About seven years ago what arrived in Wisconsin was everything that the community was waiting for. A band that conserves the melodies from the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, with a very North American touch, the language.
Music is life, it crosses borders, its capable of transporting any person to the most recondite place in the world and to the oldest, fondest memory. Music is love, happiness, sadness, unity, peace, serenity, country, culture, and art.
Between trumpets, drums, saxophones, timbales, bells, congas, and bongos, is the life of Alfredo Rodriguez; although a large part of his family is in Puerto Rico, he was born in Chicago. Latino blood runs through his veins and the musical melodies trace his body and heart in an unexplainable form.
Rodriguez tells that on usual participating on the radio program La Junta, he received a call from someone who “ensured the love for the music that was on the air and longed to understand the lyrics.” That was the day he decided that Madison needed music that included people of all types of origin, age, and culture.
Inspired by that voice over the phone, Alfredo changed the direction at the helm and started a new project: the creation of an orchestra Salsoul. To this day, it is made up of people from all over the world.
Puerto Ricans, Italians, Dominicans, Germans, Mexicans, Americans, and Indians practice weekly in preparation for their shows that they have slowly grown in Wisconsin. The focus of the band is the interpretation of songs for anyone to listen to, regardless of age, gender, religion, or race. Because of that, classics like Lionel Richie, All Night Long; Ed Sheeran, Thinking Out Loud; Santana, Black Magic Woman, and Hello by Adele cannot be left out of his repertoire, fused with what makes Salsoul, Latino rhythm.
Not in a hurry, but without any breaks, Salsoul has grown and has obtained major recognition. The conditions to be part of this marvelous musical group, aside from talent, is having a positive atmosphere because it outweighs adversity. Alfredo manifests that respect, discipline, and compromise are fundamental to the group.
“No one gets in easily,” he ensures, but adds that the values are the fundamental condition and he is slowly working to reach success. He states, “this is not simple work, but harmony should prevail. We don’t tolerate negativity.”
It is common to hear that it is a good to find a job, but even better to find a job that you love and music is no exception. Alfredo reveals that the secret to music is to love it, to feel it, and to give it your all. “Doesn’t matter if it’s a small audience or large, every type of audience deserves the same respect and care,” the musician adds.
During the four years of his musical career, he has faced many ups and downs but continues to believe it is gratifying. Week after week they practice, preparing for their presentations and engages with new challenges. Along this journey, the members have realized that that the situation is not easy and the only thing they must do is to resist, stay persistent, and to not give up.
It is not simple because with musical talent is born, love for the art is maintained, but many do not value or grow gratitude for the melodies that fill out hearts with joy.
Salsoul is characterized as one of the most hardworking bands, their most important achievement is being a finalist for the MAMA awards and continue persisting to achieve their objectives. Every element of this band is characterized because it shines its own light and merging together results in a magical set of melodies that touch every heart. Some of them are:
Carmelo Saez III: Studied Mathematics at Herbert H. Lehman College and at Cardinal Hayes High School, lives in Middleton, born in New York and is the musical director of the Orchestra Salsoul Del Mad; transcribes tons of songs and on occasions plays the first trumpet.
Daniel Dharam: He is a first line guitarist in the orchestra, data analyst in Nordic Consulting Partners, Inc. and studied at the University of Wisconsin- Madison.
Catherine Harris: Interprets the bass and is also a scientist investigator in the Department of Natural Resources of Wisconsin; worked in IPM Institute of North America, and studied Musical Performance at the University of Wisconsin- Madison.
Matt Gruett: Piano player and directs when Carmelo is not available, but he is also an expert in the sound of the band.
Miguel Fred Almonte: From Catano, Puerto Rico, interprets the timbales, studied at Fransicos
Oller, and was a drummer in the fall II Rise, among many others.
Zak Larson: Studied Music at the University of Wisconsin, interprets the saxophone in Salsoul, and was born and raised in Madison.
Kevin Castro: Works at The Little Potato Company, a singer and composer in Making Music, studied at North Miami Senor High, lives in Madison, and is from San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
Alongside them is Flaviano Estrella and Alexander Bauer, on the trombone; Michael Geurts, on the trumpet; Graham Thorbroger, on the congas; Jose Madera, on the bongos and singing; Francisco Martinez, Kevin Castro y Lo Marie.
In the same manner, there is Alfredo who plays the drums and highlights the work of Pedro Rios, Ben Farris, Timothy James, Paul Muench, Mitch Monson, Jamie Kemper, Henry Boman, Willie Garcia, Yenzel Rivera among others, allowing them to always have sound and the perfection that they are constantly in search of. That is certified by their followers on online social media platforms, who ensures that the Orchestra is transcending to important levels.
“In a city like Madison, with a growing Latino population, it has no sense of providing sufficient funding a source of music, dance, writing and all forms of art. The Latino community in Madison has a lot to offer in art and is only waiting for the right platform to do it. Like Latino artists, this neglect has definitely affected us because now that we have self-financed every little step in our process,” reclaimed Rodriguez.
He insists that, “if Madison wants their music to reflect their diverse population, then they should stop treating musicians of color in this way and simply fund and show it with the same enthusiasm and frequency for the current music. This will ensure that the public who listens is more representative of the real Madison community and exposes us to potential fans.”
The idealism is one and the reality is another and that is why if you are interested in an Orchestra that wants to make you dance but is also in English, contact Alfredo Rodriguez at his cellphone 608-669-5579; on Facebook as Orquesta SalSoul Del Mad; via email at: Salsouldelmad@gmail.com or Alfred_rod@charter.net. Visit their website salsouldelmad.wix.com/salsa
Photo Credits Jeff Alexander