A major Afro-Cuban jazz group, Oriente was formed in 1993 by guitarist Egidio Balzola. Oriente is named after one of Cuba’s six provinces that existed until 1976. The colorful band mixes together Afro-Cuban music with the influences of straightahead jazz, blues, Brazilian, Caribbean and New Orleans jazz. The group first caught on in 1994 when it played at the Snug Harbor Jazz Club and at concerts at Loyola and Tulane Universities, and it has been popular ever since. The versatile group consists of Balzola, trumpeter Stuart King, trombonist William Paredes, bassist Pepe Aparicio, drummer Orlando Machado and percussionist Yoel Del Sol, most of whom also sing. The members of Oriente have played and recorded with such notables as Mongo Santamaria, Cachao, Willie Nelson, Jaco Pastorius, Celia Cruz, Candido, Babatunde Olatunji and even Yma Sumac. Oriente has recorded three CDs so far (most recent is Ten Spaces in Time). They have performed at such festivals as the St. Lucia Jazz Festival, TwiRoPa and Jeff Fest, MOJA Pan-African and Piccolo Spoleto Festivals, the Caribbean Soul Celebration and the South Florida Jazz & Heritage Festival. They have also toured England, Germany and Iceland. Oriente’s repertoire ranges from Charles Mingus and Jaco Pastorius to Bob Marley, with many stops in between.
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