Oscar Hernandez & the Spanish Harlem Orchestra

Monterey Encounter (A Latin Jazz Suite for Flute)
With special guest Hubert Laws
2018 MJF Commission

Three-time Grammy Award Winner Oscar Hernández has long been considered one of the most gifted and prominent pianist/arrangers on the contemporary Latin, Latin Jazz and Salsa music scene.

Oscar Hernandez is the leader of the world renowned Spanish Harlem Orchestra. With their five CDs to date, Oscar and SHO (as they are commonly known), were nominated for a Grammy on their first CD Un Gran Dia En El Barrio; won a Grammy for their second CD release, Across 110th Street; nominated for their third CD United We Swing; and won their second Grammy with their fourth CD, Viva La Tradicion.

Their latest is self-titled Spanish Harlem Orchestra, and features jazz greats Chick Corea and Joe Lovano as special guests. Oscar is the leader, music producer as well as pianist/arranger on all CDs. Since the band’s inception in the year 2001, SHO have garnered numerous awards and world acclaim as one of the finest exponents of Salsa and Latin/jazz music. Spanish Harlem Orchestra is generally considered one of the best Salsa orchestras today and one of the finest music ensembles in the world.

Oscar’s career as a professional began in the 70s performing and recording with such seminal artists as Ismael Miranda, Ray Barreto, Celia Cruz, Conjunto Libre, Pete “El Conde” Rodriguez, and Grupo Folklorico.  Oscar was responsible for charting the musical course of the Rubén Blades with Seis Del Solar. Increasingly in demand as a pianist, arranger and producer, the Bronx native has produced such artists as Ruben Blades, Paul Simon, Willie Colón “Carabali”, Daniel Ponce, Rafael Dejesus, Eddie Torres, Phil Hernandez, Steve Kroon, Juan Luis Guerra, and others. He then made a more personal statement with the debut CDs Decision and Alternate Roots by his band Seis Del Solar (the Rubén Blades Band sans Rubén) and now with his two-time Grammy Award-winning band, the Spanish Harlem Orchestra.

In addition to being Rubén Blades’ pianist, arranger and musical director, Oscar Hernández has enjoyed a prolific musical career recording and performing with such world renown artists as Latin music king Tito Puente, the Queen of Salsa Music Celia Cruz, Latin pop star Julio Iglesias, Juan Luis Guerra, Ray Barreto, Earl Klugh, Dave Valentin, Johnny Pacheco, Ismael Miranda, Pete ”Conde” Rodríquez, Oscar D’Leon, Luis “Perico” Ortiz, Libre Grupo Folkorico Experimental, Willie Colón, Kirsty MacColl, and many others. Oscar’s musical exploits include working as musical director/conductor, arranging and producing the music for The Capeman, pop-rock icon Paul Simon’s Broadway musical. In addition, Oscar is also the music producer of The Capeman cast recording. Oscar was musical director/arranger for the hit shows Quien Mato A Hector Lavoe and La Lupe at the 47th Street Theatre. He was also music supervisor and arranger for the show Four Guys named Jose & Una Mujer named Maria.

In addition to having firmly established his reputation as an excellent musician and producer/arranger, Oscar has composed music for film having scored the music for the film documentaries If The Mango Tree Could Speak by Pat Goudvis and Angela Tiene Un Bebé by Paula Heredia, HBO’s Ring of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story and Cuban Roots/Bronx Stories by Pam Sporn.

In addition to leading New York’s Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Oscar also leads an all-star Salsa orchestra in Los Angeles and performs with his Latin Jazz Quintet, Alma Libre. His new quintet CD, The Art of Latin Jazz, was released on Origin Records in March 2017. As a musical director/arranger, he is in demand by many of today’s top Latino artists. Most recently, Oscar is responsible for the orchestrations and arrangements of the new hit Broadway Musical by Gloria Estefan, On Your Feet.

About Hubert Laws

Internationally-renowned flutist Hubert Laws is one of the few classical artists who has also mastered jazz, pop, and rhythm and blues genres, moving effortlessly from one repertory to another. He has appeared as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta, with the orchestras of Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Cleveland, Amsterdam, Japan, and Detroit; and with the Stanford String Quartet. He has given annual performances at Carnegie Hall and has performed sold-out performances at the Hollywood Bowl with fellow flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal and was a member of the New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera Orchestras. In addition, he has appeared at the Montreux, Playboy, and Kool Jazz festivals; he performed with the Modern Jazz Quartet at the Hollywood Bowl in 1982 and with the Detroit Symphony in 1994. His recordings have won three Grammy nominations.

Mr. Laws has been involved in unique projects such as collaborations with Quincy Jones, Bob James, and Claude Bolling for Neil Simon’s comedy California Suite, a collaboration with Earl Klugh and Pat Williams on the music for How to Beat the High Cost of Living and film scores for The Wiz, The Color Purple, A Hero Ain’t Nothing but a Sandwich, and Spot Marks the X.

There are 23 albums in Mr. Laws’ discography for such record companies as Atlantic, CBS, and CTI, including My Time Will Come and Storm Then the Calm” for the Music Masters record label.

Session work also remains a staple of Hubert Laws’ schedule and includes collaborations and recordings with such artists as Quincy Jones, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Freddie Hubbard, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Aretha Franklin, Lena Horne, Sergio Mendes, Bob James, Carly Simon, Clark Terry, Leonard Bernstein, and the New York Philharmonic.

In addition, Mr. Laws maintains his own publishing companies, Hulaws Music and Golden Flute Music, and he founded Spirit Productions in 1976 to produce his own albums and those of promising new artists. He was selected the #1 Flutist for 24 years in DownBeat readers polls (including 10 years in a row) and was their #1 Critic’s Choice as #1 Flutist in 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Hubert received the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Fellowship Award in 2011.