Elias Lopes was a member of the Symphony Orchestra of the Conservatory of Music. (Elijah Lopés Collection)
Elias‘s name Lopés Garcia is written in the list of most productive musicians and directors in our cultural history, with a life path that lies printed in more than 1,600 musical productions, mostly salsa.
Natural village of Guayama, where he was born on February 7, 1945, became fascinated with folk music reveling child with the work of the orchestra César Concepción, which played on the radio and he still remembers his attraction to sound of trumpets.
However, it was not until I had the experience of being in front of a trumpet, watching him manipulate his instrument in warm-ups, who cracked his desire to become a musician.
“Once the Panamericana Orchestra was playing at Guayama and was surprised when I saw” Coamito “(Carlos Luis Martinez) trumpeting. That day was shocking, because it was the first time I saw a musician before me. Since my family realized my dream and an aunt gave me a trumpet, “narrates.
He was barely nine years old when Elijah Lopes moved to San Juan with his family, who used to inquirirles time his parents about his desire to study at the Free School of Music. There he began to become familiar with the techniques and musical forms that soon they were becoming a teenage prodigy, earning the endorsement of the leading conductors of orchestras of the time.
His first professional experience
It was in 1958 that the enthusiastic trumpeter had his first professional experience, who managed the group Chacón y su Combo, so then recognized between Santurce musical environment.
Soon after, when he was 14 years old, was recruited to participate in the orchestra of Luis Morales, who used to be in the famous restaurant El Esquife located in the area of Villa Palmeras in Santurce.
Months later he was invited to join the orchestra Charles Miner, a band noted for his participation in the famous dances casino that developed in all villages of the island, to which the prosperity of the holiday were added the private clubs.
This experience nurtured the young and seasoned performer, who by then was 15 years old, in methods and musical techniques, while polished allowed in practice and execution of the instrument.
No I started at a young age, Elijah Lopés had amassed an artistic experience that presaged the presence of a promising figure in the development of our popular music, so the job never failed him.
During his adolescence he appeared for a year on grouping Usera Moncho, prominent musician and arranger, and one of the most distinguished personalities of the national rhythmic pentagram 50s.
With Moncho Usera worked about a year in San Juan hotel, where he shared the stage with the orchestra of Charlie Fisk during the celebration of the “shows business” that used to occur on the island. Thus had the opportunity to accompany figures of American song as Nat King Cole, Marlene Dietrich, Nancy Wilson, Tom Jones and Sammy Davis, Jr. and others.
Your passport to the “big leagues”
At 16 years old I had the opportunity to measure their talent in one of the main bands in the country, Mario Ortiz Orchestra, which he considers his most important experience.
“Mario Ortiz was a musician unbelievable, with extraordinary capabilities, a self-taught man, amazing musical talent. He had everything of course, knew what and how music was made. Was the musician struck me most in my life” he says.
It is precisely with the orchestra of Mario Ortiz Elijah Lopés managed his first musical arrangements and worked his first musical productions: “On the Road” (1963) and “The Swingest Mario Ortiz” (1964), with which began the registration of his career.
At the same time, he entered the Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Professor Christopher Leuba and excelled as first trumpet of the Symphony Orchestra of the Conservatory Stu–dents. Also, and sporadically, usually presented as Sonora Boricua musician, accompanying Myrta Silva in their presentations WAPA Television.
The musical experience with Mario Ortiz concluded shortly after his second recording, when the young artist accepted the offer of experienced pianist Rafael Ithier to be part of El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico.
Before that, the singer Andy Montañez and Pellin Rodriguez had tried to seduce his parents telling musical work was developing the group and their need to have the talent of its stem.
The approaches were unsuccessful because, Lopés tells Elijah, “my dad was opposed because I was young, I was studying and he was prejudiced by the headlines that read the adventures of (Rafael) Cortijo and Ismael (Rivera). Moreover, Mario Ortiz was very important in my life and my career that no thought for anything else. “
In the end, Elijah Lopés accepted the offer.
NEARLY half a century of musical work, Elijah Lopés has maintained a solid consistency as a member of the select group of salseros who have managed to imbue her work with a sound identity and distinction.
Beyond his outstanding contribution in the orchestras of Moncho Usera, Mario Ortiz, El Gran Combo and Apollo Sound, his long career has also been marked in the work by the La Grande Orchestra, Johnny Bravo, and the Sonora Boricua special projects that has carved with figures such as Celia Cruz and Sonora Ponceña (“La ceiba” 1977), Andy Montañez (“An unknown dimension“: 1978) and the Puerto Rico All Stars.
One of his most important appearances were by the Fania All Stars in “Havana Jam” project, in Havana, Cuba, in March 1979, by which the best talent in the Caribbean music joined in and outside the greater Antilles.
In that same cultural encounter, Elijah Lopés worked as a member of American musicians gather CBS All Stars, which brought together a conclave of the most prominent figures of Anglo-Saxon and jazz sound.
Among its assets its contribution to the internationalization of the sauce is also highlighted, especially with the project developed in the early 80s in Chile, with which the step between gender raid opened the South American population.
On that occasion, trumpeter veteran worked for two years leading the band program major varieties of the country, “Don Francisco” hosted by Mario Kreutzberger, and for which they paraded salseros as Lefti Perez, Adalberto Santiago, Ismael Quintana , Ismael Miranda and Tito Allen.
Defined as a conservative in the musical, Elijah has always sought to establish Lopés a hallmark in their work without resorting to phrases and daring harmonies and saving the difference in timbres, tessitura and musicality of the instruments.
It has also been innovative sounds and rhythms, as happened with the incursion of the trombone in the harmonic pattern of the sauce in the late 60s and the introduction of the strings on a topic salsa, as with the song “Progress “recorded by the Apollo Sound.
His recent work highlights the direction of gather “Viva la salsa” which recently brought together a select group of vocalists and musicians to recreate the greatest hits of the golden age of the genre.
He had an outstanding participation in El Gran Combo and contributed to the group‘s rhythmic innovations achieved with boogaloo. (Elijah Lopés Collection)
It was THE day April 5, 1964 when Elijah Lopés, 19 years old, entered the artillery El Gran Combo of Puerto Rico, then a young musical group predicted placed as the most portentous band of the decade, only comparable with his predecessor Rafael Cortijo‘s Combo.
By then, the group had managed to haul a decent space in the music and had several record productions that supported the presence of the orchestra, noted for the musicality and vocal work of Andy Montañez and Pellin Rodriguez.
Elias Lopez, who brought with him an impressive resume for his short professional experience, the orchestra came to replace Quito Vélez, who served as first trumpet and arranger.
Instead, the main performance would be like young instrumentalist, an opportunity that allowed him to measure his talent once again, alongside musicians of proven experience and seniority.
Along with El Gran Combo also scored his first international experience, which allowed him to become familiar with musical trends, which soon lead him to explore new rhythmic forms that would test in the group.
After working in nearly seven albums with El Gran Combo, Elijah Lopés launched to try their first innovation: the introduction of the boogaloo. This time, says the trumpeter, tried to emulate the work that Pete Rodriguez had cleverly developed in New York, taking the musical phrases in the Anglo fashion and music scene fusing them with the Latin rhythm, a formula that had caught on among the youth of the time.
“We had to try these trends and managed the first number in that line was led Guajira Pellin Rodriguez and he added the vocals and harmonize it so that it may highlight the improvisations. Initially Rafa (Ithier) did not want experience, but when he heard continued working them and recorded two full albums that pace, “says the trumpeter, who was responsible for the hits” Shake it Baby “and” Gran Combo‘s Boogaloo “.
Before the era of the boogaloo, Elijah Lopés music was included in the list of the various subjects mambo orchestra instrumental jazz while also adding a distinct touch to the repertoire, allowed a rest area for vocalists Andy Montañez and Pellin Rodriguez because says, “we worked every day on the radio and had to give an oxygen group and the boys.”
The experiment Megatons
Eager to sonic experimentation and innovation, Elijah rested Lopés not seek and absorb new musical that could nurture the artistic project that developed on the island.
So, one night in 1964, visiting New York with El Gran Combo, saw a show at the famed club The Palledium where trombonists Barry Rogers and Jose Rodriguez “made a mess with the trombone.”
“I was shocked with the work of these musicians and I wondered why that instrument (trombone) he was not-ranked in the country and is only used in the municipal bands, beyond what he had managed to Mon Rivera to accompany your twister” he says.
Thus arises the initiative of Roberto Roena in binding Fania Orchestra The Megatons, which used to be in the club that night Miramar El Gran Combo not working.
We gather Camilo Azuquita sang with Andy Montañez and Pellin Rodriguez on vocals. The harmonic part overpowered the presence of two trombones, by Sepulveda and Cuchón Tito Nuñez, in combination with two trumpets and two saxophones.
Although this musical project did not extend, he served for Elijah Lopés be organizing more solidly the idea of their sound proposal, which, he says, was in tune with the hit musical experience that had developed in the United States avant-garde groups such as Blood Sweat and Tears and Chicago, who included in their rhythmic patterns combining the trombones, trumpets and saxophone.
The highlight of innovation led to the creation of the group Apollo Sound together with his colleague Roberto Roena, having abandoned the El Gran Combo September 9, 1969, attributing his departure to their aspirations to develop as arranger and musical director.
IN 1969 an ambitious and enthusiastic Lopés Elijah decided to start a new stage in his career articulating a sound project that he gave a modern twist to the sauce, qualifying musical styles to the dominant harmonic time with a different format.
The idea, initiative colleague Roberto Roena, was to highlight the strength of the trombone in the harmonic basis of gender, in combination with two trumpets and tenor saxophone, and enlarging the sound of the group to four voices in open euphony.
This proposal, which was the sequel to The Megatons experience, became a reality in the creation of the Apollo Sound.
“With the Apollo Sound sought to impose a new combination in the sauce. Far musical structures were sound, style trumpet and saxophones and big bands like the Pan, which had four trumpets, four saxophones, insisted that while trombone needed to have their own space, “he says.
At its inception, the group attended Reynaldo Jorge, Al Abreu, Mario Cora, Lin Torres, Fredy Miranda, Ray Coen, Celso Clemente, Quique Talavera, Gole Fernandez and Piro Mantilla.
The explosion at the Apollo Sound music market had a dramatic effect that arrived to cause some collapse in the bands in force until then, but not for long.
His first scenario is found in the Siboney Lounge Hotel Ponce de Leon (now Plaza County), where they remained working on an intense season of more than three months, every night.
Elijah Lopés spent three years as a member of the orchestra, though never entirely departed the group’s work.
“I have always maintained linked to Roberto, with whom I share a great friendship. Moreover, I appreciate all the life that it was he who recommended me strongly to recruit me in El Gran Combo” he says.
When he left the Apollo Sound, the musician went to work with the newly formed orchestra Quique Talavera, with Ray Coen, in a project that enlivened the evenings in the most prestigious hotels in the country and which remained near 20 years, but in the meantime made musical works for Tommy Olivencia, Bobby Valentine and even created his own orchestra, the November 1, 1979.
The debut of his band did it in “The show noon” WAPA TV, and was accompanied by a battery of musicians of the first order, the style big band, and which passed vocalists Keny Cruz, Ramon Saldana, Gini Cruz , Lefti Perez and Junior Toledo.
With his orchestra made the albums “The most delicious delicacy” (1979), “Elijah Lopés and Co.” (1980), “Tribute to the soneros” (1982) and “Dance and varied” (1983).
In 1982 he was sent to the address of reunion of old members of El Gran Combo El Combo del Ayer, an idea of Johnny Bravo that recalled the musical history of the early adventures of the group.
At the same time, he formed a musical project that traveled around the country making presentations universities in the style of famous American band Chase Bill. This project used to be accompanied by the voices of Gilberto Santa Rosa, Piro Mantilla, Norman Casiano and Ramón Saldaña.
The veteran musician returned to innovate with the draft Trumpets with Minstrels, founded in 1986, and resulted in a different harmonization in the interpretation of our folk music, with the incursion of trumpets without altering the presence of four distinct sound….
|2001||Las Paginas de Mi Vida||Tito Gomez||Trumpet|
|1999||Clase Aparte||Tito Nieves||Trumpet|
|1998||La Verdadera Navidad||Domingo Quiñones||Seguidor, Timbales|
|1998||Salsa Sinfónica: En Vivo Teresa Carreños Caracas||Gilberto Santa Rosa||Trumpet|
|1998||Una Vez Mas||Anthony Cruz||Trumpet|
|1997||Sexto Sentido||Sexto Sentido||Trumpet|
|1996||Destino||Rey Ruiz||Mixing, Producer, Timbales, Trumpet|
|1996||Isidro Infante Y La Elite II||Isidro Infante||Trumpet|
|1996||Quien Diria||David Benus||Trumpet|
|1995||Siempre Te Amare||Orlando||Trumpet|
|1994||A Mi Estilo||Tito Rojas||Trumpet|
|1993||De Menor a Mayor||De Menor a Mayor||Trumpet|
|1992||A Dos Tiempos de un Tiempo||Gilberto Santa Rosa||Trumpet|
Source: Internal and http://www.descarga.com/cgi-bin/db/archives/Interview51?QvfkjKc4;;58