Something more than a “Charanga”

 Something more than a “Charanga”

It was one of those nights of meeting with friends, those friends with whom you share the same musical preferences among other things, you know, of those gatherings where only you and your friends can spend hours discussing the best songs of Héctor Lavoe or remembering the best hits of the Fania, and in which there is no other way to end the evening than with the deities that bring the good Salsa music from a live band to close the night with a flourish.

And so that was when with the hours passed we came across one of these charming Latin clubs that fill the streets and every day prevail more in the city of New York, where, of course, they offered Live Salsa. Eureka! If you allow me to say it … It was the perfect place to “Echarnos un Pie” (a colloquial term that we usually give in some Latin countries when we refer to dance). Upon entering, the characteristic sound of the band wrapped up the entire venue, no doubt, captivated us. It was the harmony of an orchestra that played the typical Cuban music: “La Charanga, which had its maximum exposure in the 20th century. We were all enthralled or if you want to say “delighted”, it was the mixture of wind instruments with percussion instruments but especially with the string instrument that most caught our attention, the Violin. When we asked for the name of the orchestra, they told us: “Son del Monte”. It’s the ideal name for an orchestra of 12 Latin musicians who project their virtuosity before an audience eager for Caribbean Music that bathes the senses and awakens the joy of living.

Son Del Monte is a band based in New York City that presents unique tunes from various artists. This orchestra was born from the musical director and timbalero, Manny Rivera whose aspiration was to create a Charanga band with a hard New York sound that paid homage to the orchestras of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. “Our music is captivating for the listeners and dancers. Fans from all over the world have come to love Son Del Monte: Una Charanga Con Algo Más and our incredible musical swing”, said Manny Rivera.

This band that combines the typical sound of Cuba with the mixture of flute, violins and trombones with three singers that create a distinctive harmony of three parts, have performed in so popular Salsa venues, such as: Maryland Live Casino, the Baltimore´s Latino Festival, the boardwalk of Coney Island, SOB’s, Empire City Casino in Yonkers, Gonzalez y Gonzalez, La Marqueta, the Latina Hats Society, Industry City, Harlem Mist, among other recognized Salsa venues.

The members of this Charanga orchestra with “Sabor” and electrifying sound are: Mauricio Smith Jr. (Flute), Eric Roberto Salazar and David Rimelis (Violins), Michael Pallas, Juanga Lakunza and Charlie Garcia (Trombones), Eli Rivera (Piano), Bert Castro (Bass), Joe Gonzalez (Conga), Manuel Rivera (Timbales / Musical Director / Leader) and Luis Ayala, Armando Jiménez Sonji and Luis Soto (Singers).

Since the beginning of this year (2019), Son del Monte has been working on their record proposal for the Latin market with unpublished themes, rhythmic and unique sound – contemporary. To date, they already have two singles: “Rumba Omelenko” and “Vengo de Nueva York” availables in CD Baby, Deezer, iTunes, Apple Music, and Spotify. Likewise, the song “Herman” is in the process of recording. So, get ready because this Charanga orchestra promises their CD ended with great compositions for the public later this year.


Undeniable, the acceptance of Son del Monte has been so extensive on the part of New Yorkers and all who are Salsa lovers that they were recently awarded with the TANAE Digital Media Award for Band of the Year 2018, giving recognition to an arduous musical performance, but above all of great cultural value that keeps alive our Latin idiosyncrasy.

Manuel Rivera (Musical Director / Manager/  Timbales):

Manuel Rivera, have been a professional musician for more than 40 years and now Son Del Monte’s Leader/ Musical Director.  His musical career started playing Bongo in a Latin Workshop band which eventually became Orchestra Yambu.  Yambu was known for its Latin Jazz style and Disco Hit “Sunny”, his first recording.  Subsequently, I joined the original Charanga Orchestra Sublime of New York City, doubling up on Bongo and Timbales. He recorded on Sublime’s first two albums in 1977 and 1979.  In 2001, he rejoined Orchestra Sublime now known as “Sonsublime”. Manuel recorded on Sonsublime’s Gran Reserva and Bailando Con Sonsublime, their latest CDs. He studied various folkloric rhythms, Bata drums, and sight-reading at the Harbor’s Conservatory of Music in El Barrio in New York City under the guidance of the Master Louie Bauzo. Manuel Rivera has performed with the Bassist: William Millan, of the original Conjunto Saoco, singers: Henry Fiol, Ray Ramos, and Luis Ayala.  Also, he performed with Yerason and the MTG All-Stars Orchestra under the direction of Hector Leguillow, Joe Quijano at Lincoln Center and other various artists throughout his musical career.

Ismael Castro (CEO of Tanio Nation Entertainment LLC), Luis Ayala (Son del Monte’s Singer), Armando Jiménez (Son del Monte’s Singer), Luis Soto (Son del Monte’s Singer), Manuel Rivera (Son Del Monte’s Leader/Musical Director)

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