For over two decades, Colombian musician Dorance Lorza has made it his duty to keep alive the classic vibraphone-led salsa/mambo sound of the 1960s and 1970s. Great musicians of this genre like Tito Puente, Louie Ramirez, The Joe Cuba Sextet, Pete Terrace, Bobby Montez and Cal Tjader are amongst his musical heroes.
With his band Sexteto Cafe, he has recorded four studio albums since 1996 in both the U.K. and Colombia. All these albums are loved equally by DJs, dancers, radio show hosts and music critics alike and are regularly played worldwide. This talented musician, composer and arranger has managed to breathe new life into classic salsa songs at the same time as continuing the tradition of great salsa composition with his strong original new songs.
The line-up of the band has changed throughout the years, but the quality of music from Sexteto Cafe has never faltered. Recently Dorance and the band have finally achieved the international acclaim they so rightly deserve. These include appearances at the prestigious “Collectors Stage” and other venues at the famous “La Feria De Cali” Colombia (2013/14), plus winning LUKAS AWARDS(Latin America UK Awards) for the band as “Tropical Act Of The Year 2014” and “Musician Of The Year 2015” for Dorance. Finally, Dorance has been given a lifetime achievement award jointly from the San Buenaventura University and the Secretary Of Culture & Tourism in 2014 for his contribution to keeping alive salsa music as a cultural heritage of Cali.
In December 2014 Dorance and U.K. pianist Anna Gillespie once again travelled to Colombia to play with the Cali based musicians of Sexteto Cafe for the ‘La Feria de Cali’ salsa festival. They took this opportunity to go into recording studios in both Cali and Medellin to complete and mix their fifth album. Although a lot of the material had already been recorded in London, Cali and Medellin offered an opportunity to work with some old colleagues whom the “best salsa band” category at the 2014 Dorance felt would perfect the sound he ideally desired for Sexteto Cafe.
The result is probably Sexteto Cafe’s strongest album to date. Ten songs of swinging vibes-led small combo salsa dura, mambo, cha cha cha, salsa romantica and Latin jazz featuring some of the finest salsa musicians from London, Cali and Medellin. Dorance invited some very special guests to join him on this album including master percussionist Diego Gale of Grupo Gale, legendary Puerto Rican sonero Ismael Rivera Jnr and Colombian salsa superstars Kike Harvey and Willy Garcia. On a re-working of 2012’s “Rumbero De Corazon”, he has assembled an awesome array of salsa vocalists who each take an ‘inspiracion’ (improvisation) on the main lyrical theme of the song. Some of these vocalists have worked with artists such as the Lebron Brothers, Grupo Niche, Javier Vasquez, Grupo Gale, Sonora Carruseles, Bobby Valentin, Son De Cali and La Suprema Corte. These include Santiago Angel, Orlando Hurtado, Virgilio Hurtado, Lucho Flores, Jose Luis Sevilliano, Carlitos Romero and Julio Lopez. Real soneros with improvisational skills and not just salsa singers reading from a lyric sheet.
The tracks vary from fantastic Dorance Lorza re-workings of salsa classics such as “El Titere” and “Con Los Pobres Estoy” through to future salsa classics (and Sexteto Cafe originals) like “Rumbero De Corazon”, “Latin DNA” and the very grooving “Cha Cha Para Adela”. Dorance totally understands that the musical past must always be respected but new and original material has to be produced for salsa to continue to be a relevant force in contemporary Latin music. I think he’s got the balance just about right and I am sure that the “Latin DNA” of Dorance Lorza & Sexteto Cafe will keep on growing for a long time into the future.
Lubi Jovanovic aka DJ Lubi
UK salsa DJ/concert promoter since 1982 and CD compiler for Fania Records, Nascente Records, World Music Network and Freestyle Records.