Zon del Barrio (the Barrio
Is old school mixed with a little new school flava expressing
the musical soul of the barrios playing bomba, plena, classic
salsa, merengue, boogalu and Latin-jazz in the style of Puerto
Rico's most popular exponent, Cortijo y su Combo. Cortijo's
band broke through the color barrier in Puerto Rico in the
late '50s and Zon del Barrio is a tribute to those efforts
and a celebration of Afro-Puertorican music.
Parallel to Cortijo's band for diversity, Zon del Barrio
updates the folklore while mixing the music with today's urban,
bilingual and bicultural lifestyle. With Spanglish lyrics,
a touch of funky hip-hop, and boogalu, this group stands out
because of its creative, professional and distinctive arrangements,
original tunes with substantive content and diverse repertoire.
Original songs such as "Mi Bandera," are nuyorican
tributes to our roots while living in the New York present.
"Revolu” talks in Spanglish about the changing
roles of men and women and the rising tide of violence against
women with a funky back beat to the folkloric Puerto Rican
bomba rhythm. Reconciling the past with the hip new sounds
of the present, Zon del Barrio is East Harlem's hottest septet.
This group of veteran and young musicians is led by music
journalist & historian, Aurora Flores with musical direction
provided by David Fernandez, a multi-instrumentalist who defers
to his almost encyclopedic knowledge of the classics for his
With original tunes penned by Flores, Zon del Barrio introduces
the dynamic young vocals of Hector "Papote" Jimenez,
an up and coming sonero of the 21st Century who channels the
spiritual voicings and phrases of the great Latino singers
such as Benny More Ismael Rivera and Hector LaVoe.
Wear your dancing shoes!
The musical genres of bomba and plena are native to Puerto
Rico imported from Africa through the slave trade and developed
on the Island as tribal music of resistance and endurance.
The bomba is a form of communication and spiritual release
from slavery and injustice through tribal memories that play
themselves out through the movements of the dancers followed
by the beats of the drummers. It was eventually banned by
authorities because of insurrections on sugar cane plantations.
It’s nature of resistance against oppression, however,
The plena derived from this rhythmic musical form as a mobile
method of melodic communication. Played on three hand drums
of various size accompanied by the scratching of a gourd (guicharo),
this form of music became popular around the turn of the 20th
century at a time of rapid change in P.R. when the island
was transforming from agricultural to industrial.
Because many people were poor and could not read, the plena
became the musical form of communicating news of daily events
from town to town. Upbeat, witty, satirical and full of sexual
and political double entendes the plena also helped to fuel
the first protest marches owing to its mobility and catchy
choruses that were incorporated on picket lines as popular
proletariat chants for working class justice.
Salsa was born and developed on the streets of New York by
primarily Puertorican musicians. Salsa, as the name implies,
is a tasty blend of Cuban, Puerto Rican and Dominican music
influencing the new Latino of the 21st Century. During the
60s and 70s, the music, parallel to the people, developed
a distinctive style that embraced the identity of Latinos
in the U.S.
Emerging in a time of rapid change in the life-changing era
of the 60s and 70s, when the civil rights movement swept the
country with strength that only cutting through chains can
have, salsa captured the diversity of New York Latinos through
its music, poetry and song.
The musicians of this time were breast fed on the milk of
polyrhythmic beats and honed their craft with passion on the
fringes of a shifted society. A hip, Nuyorican sound that's
in your face while boiling your blood, Salsa is the soundtrack
of Latino life today. David N. Fernandéz Multi-instrumentalist,
bandleader, musical director and arranger, David Fernandéz
relies on his almost encyclopedic knowledge of the classics
for his creative arrangements. He has performed with Marc
Anthony, the Joe Cuba Sextet, Willie Villegas as well as Pedro
Guzman, Angel “Cuco” Peña, Andy Montañez,
El Topo, Ismael Miranda and Ismael Rivera, Jr. to name a few.
His arrangements can be heard over the hit children’s
show, Dora The Explorer, Willie Villegas’ “Dancer’s
Paradise” as well as on Chembo Corniel’s recent
Latin jazz recording, “Portrait in Rhythms.” Born
into a musical family in Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn New
York, David was a child prodigy who began playing bongos professionally
at the age of nine. His father was a guitarist and singer
with his own trio group, Los Bohemios while his older brother
played trombone with various salsa bands of the 60s and 70s.
David played bongos and timbales before studying piano and
jazz arranging at 15. He performed with the Youngstown State
University Jazz Ensemble under the direction of the late Anthony
Leonardi. At the Youngstown State University of Ohio he studied
jazz arranging with Sam D’Angelo. He returned to New
York to study jazz piano with the late Jaki Byard later learning
salsa piano and music production with Ricky Gonzalez.
Fernandéz redefined the "jibaro" bongo style
of playing during his time with Pedro Guzman's Jibaro Jazz
while defining the salsa style of percussion on congas and
After leading a 10-piece orchestra playing Latin music throughout
Youngstown, Ohio and Pittsburgh, PA. while also playing with
various other jazz artists including Bob Mintzer, John Faddis,
and the late Nick Brignola, David Fernandez worked in Puerto
Rico for six years before touring St. Croix as pianist with
the r&b band "Tough Enough".Fernandéz
returns to his native New York hometown where he is the musical
director of Zon del Barrio; La TromBanda and Akunbé.
Considered a 21st century Renaissance woman, Aurora Flores
is a musician, writer, producer and activist. Raised in a
musical family where her grandfather played plena and aguilnaldos
on the accordion, her father wrote songs, her mother sang
while her brother plays percussion she started as a classical
musician playing violin, guitar and bass while singing in
the school and church chorus before recording her first album
at 15 with the Manhattan Borough Wide Orchestra as head of
the bass section while studying bass privately with Frederic
Zimmerman. She went on to become the first Latina editor of
Latin New York Magazine in 1974 later becoming the first female
music correspondent for Billboard Magazine from 1976 to 1978.
During this time she sang in the bands of Cortijo & Maelo
y sus Cachimbos as well as a few local groups. She attended
the Columbia School of Journalism before breaking into mainstream
journalism writing and reporting news for television, radio
and print before starting a family and her own public relations
agency, Aurora Communications, Inc in 1987. With thousands
of articles to her name, Aurora Flores organized her own septet
in tribute to the music of Rafael Cortijo and Ismael Rivera
called Zon del Barrio featuring some of her own original compositions
while showcasing the vocal talents of "Papote" a
young sonero from the lower east side who, while living in
a hip-hop world, has embraced the polyrhythms of his Afro-Boricua
ancestry. Flores continues to write for various mainstream
newspapers and magazines while teaching a Latin music history
course and lecturing on the roots of the music. A cultural
consultant, she has written bilingual tunes for the hit children's
show, Dora, the Explorer and conducts tours of East Harlem
in a cultural, political and socio/economic content. She can
be seen singing alongside Tito Puente in the Edward James
Olmos Docudrama, Americanos, Latino Life in the U.S.; lecturing
in the Bravo documentary, Palladium: When Mambo Was King and
in the Smithsonian film accompanying the traveling exhibit:
Latin-jazz, La Combinación Perfecta. Flores is currently
working on a book based on her experiences in the Latino New