MUSICIAN'S BIOS
ORQUESTA RITMO AT THE EAST LANSING SOLSTICE JAZZ FEST

 

 

 


 

Michael A. Eyia-

Director

guitar, percussion, lead vocals, arranger, composer  

Born in Havana, Cuba, Michael (Mike) Eyia started classical guitar lessons at the age of 10 under the tutelage of world renowned Cuban guitarist and composer Dr. Leo Brower. After leaving Cuba due to the unstable political climate, Mike came to the U.S. and settled in Lansing, Mi. Mike studied music at Michigan State University and Lansing Community College. Later he became an instructor at LCC and taught various music courses over a period of about 10 years. Over time, his passion for Cuban style music persisted. In the late 70’s and in preparation for the U.S. Bicentennial Celebration, Mike formed RITMO to introduce and educate people in a different style of Latin music. The group at the time consisted of a six piece band, as well as a 24 piece dance troupe. Mike choreographed a number of Cuban pieces including a danzon, a guaracha, cha cha cha and a conga and backed the dance troupe with his live band. The troupe traveled around the Mid West and performed for venues all over Michigan and as far south as Dayton, Ohio. The group earned a number of accolades along the way including a Tribute from the Michigan State Legislature. In 1984, the group grew to it’s current 11 piece Orchestra. Throughout the years, the group has shared the stage with a number of recording artists such as Los Lobos, Salsa great Oscar D’Leon, and The Bangles among others. Mike Eyia is the director and sole active member from the original 6 piece group. 

The versatility and ability of the current Salsa band is such that Mike can break it up into a smaller group to fit the occasion.  Under the name of BRASS & ELECTRIC, the smaller band can cover a wide range of music which encompasses Top 40, Blues, Funk, Old Standards, Country and Jazz.  Mike is also the President of MMALAC,(Mid-Michigan Association of Latin American Culture, which promotes Caribbean Style Latin music and culture) and a founding member of Jazz Jamm, a local organization founded to promote Jazz venues in the Mid-Michigan area.

 

 James Rodriguez,

timbales, congas, latin percussion

James Rodriguez has had an aspiring musical career from a young age. Originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, James is of Puerto Rican descent. James’ astounding talents include being a full percussionist, music director, vocalist and composer. In 2006, he won the Detroit Music Award for “Outstanding World Percussionist” and has been nominated for “Outstanding World Artist/Group” as part of the band Orquesta Sensacional. James has opened up for many notable artists such as Aventura, Monchi y Alexandra, and Earth, Wind and Fire. He also opened up for El Gran Combo and was featured in one of their performances. In addition, James has had the privilege to perform with Tito Puente Jr. Most recently, he opened for Pete Escovido this summer at the Flint Jazz Festival with a smaller version of Mike Eyia’s Orquesta RITMO.   

 

 

PEPE ESPINOSA

Drummer, Percussionist, Educator

Born in Havana (Cuba) in 1974 I began my musical studies at age 4 years with my father “Pepin Drum,” one of the best Drummers in Cuba in that era, and then moved on to study at the Conservatory of Music in Havana called Adolfo Guzmán.  At the age of 12 years, I began my first musical experience as the bongo player for the famed Cuban group “Conjunto Saratoga”.  This opportunity gave me the strength and understanding to launch my career. In Pepe's own words, "I am an admirer of music and all of its extensions. Thanks to that I have played with many internationally renowned orchestras encompassing many different musical genres such as Latin, Pop, Reggae, Rock and World Music."

Tours

-1995-Grupo “Los Dada”, Italy

-1996-Grupo "Bamboleo"-- Participated in many important festivals in Europe and United States.

Grupo Cubanismo–Berlin, at the Midsummer Jazz Lincoln Center Festival in New York.

-2000-Frank Emilio Flynn & “Los Amigos" Jazz Festival in Charleston (South Carolina) United States, plus numerous concerts throughout much of Germany.

Afro Cuban All Stars- -European Tour

-2001-Azucar Negra—at the Lincoln Center (New York) Copacabana Club (Manhattan) USA

-2002-"Grupo”Klimax” (Giraldo Piloto) Pop Corn" Munich. (European Tournée)

-2004-"Afro Cuban All Stars"-- Participating in numerous jazz festivals in many cities in Europe, Central America & United States of America.

-2005-"Cubanismo" (Jesus Alemañi) Many toured several cities in Asia and United States.

BB King -- at the Blue Note (New York) S.O.B’s (New York)

-2006-Jerry Gonzalez & “Los Piratas Del Flamenco" performing in many cities in

Spain.

 I have also worked with many of the great Salsa (singers) from around the world such as Tito Nieves, Henry Fiol, Tony Vega, Roberto Blades, Pedro Brull and " La Mulense" Cano Estremera, (El Albino) Eddye Santiago, Paquito Guzmán, Adalberto Santiago, Luisito Carrión, Rey Ruiz, Roberto Blades, Grupo Niche de Colombia, among others.

-2007-Performed numerous concerts in Stockholm (Sweden) with Latin Groove” and (Hernan Lugano)

HovedoenSocial Club, with (Sverre Indris Joner)

-2008-I performed several tours with Jari Sillanpaa, one of the greatest Pop singers in Scandinavia, around most of Finland, and on TV Helsinki.

-2009-Afro Cuban All Stars USA Tournée around the USA, and at the Singapore Sun Festival at Esplanade

- 2009 for the Theatre Canadian Tour.- With Cuban great Trumpet player Arturo Sandoval on his European Tour-Matosinhos

Jazz Festival (Portugal) Den Atelier Jazz Club (Luxemburg)Sibiu Jazz Festival(Rumania)among others.

-2010-2011-Afro Cuban All Stars USA tour around Asia, Oceania, and the USA

This summer Pepe has been performing around Michigan with Orquesta RITMO.  As part of the band, he opened for Pete Escovido at the Flint Jazz Festival, and performed with Wycliff Gordon at the East Lansing Summer Solstice Jazz Festival.

 

 Dennis Therrien,

pianist, arranger and composer

 

 

Dennis Therrian, a classically-trained pianist, is the consummate professional musician and performer who is the driving technical/creative force behind audio/music/video composition and editing here at The Red, White and Blue Proyect.

For more than 30 years Dennis has been a mainstay on the legendary Michigan (and Motown) musical scene, having performed with bands entertaining audiences with a full range of styles, from rock n' roll, salsa and big band, to contemporary/acoustic jazz and blues. Performing has also taken Dennis around the world and blessed him with the opportunity to play with some of the music industry's giants.

For the past 15 years, Dennis' original scores have graced more than a dozen feature films, in genres ranging from horror, fantasy and drama, to Biblical, murder mystery, and comedy“The Red, White and Blue Project,” a recently completed documentary and flagship film for the critically-acclaimed “Outside the Wire: The Forgotten Children of Afghanistan”, is Dennis’ latest accomplishment.  Dennis also served as musical director and sound designer in a recent commercial video for JBL which included The Who and Carlos Santana as featured artists.

Dennis' career and talents only begin as a musical performer and composer.  In addition to supervising all aspects of studio post-production for“Red, White and Blue Project” - from editing and sound design, to composing original music and scores – Dennis has added “Producer” to his portfolio and career responsibilities.

     Dennis, who has worked as post-production supervisor, composer, editor and sound designer for several film companies across the U.S., has also served and continues in his capacity as “Supervising Sound Editor” on film locations wherever it takes him around the globe.

     A native of Grand Ledge, Michigan, Dennis works out of his state-of-the-art recording studio and editing suite.  A driven and self-professed “Perfectionist” who is a stickler for detail, Dennis also serves as an “Adjunct Professor” in Music Technology at Lansing Community College, an institution well-known for its prowess in theater, music and audio/visual arts.  Dennis says that extending his experience, expertise and creativity to young people in the classroom has been, “a joy, very fulfilling.” He also is a key member of the group Layers/ LCC Faculty Jazz Quartet, whose first album, No Vacancy, was recorded and mixed at Dennis' studio.

Dennis has been performing with Orquesta RITMO for most of the last 8 years, and this summer as part of the band, opened for Pete Escovido at the Flint Jazz Fest, and also performed with trombonist Wycliff Gordon at the East Lansing Solstice Jazz Fest

     For samples of Dennis' movie scores, movie trailers, contemporary and acoustic jazz work, a tour of the studio and much more, please visit:

www.dennistherrian@comcast.net

 

 Carmelo Sanchez, percussionist , percussionist 

Percussionist

 

 Carmelo was born in Maunabo, Puerto Rico.  The sounds of congas and bongos fill his earliest memories. It was at the hands of his older brother, Osvaldo, that he received his first instructions on these instruments. He heard and began to play Rumba Caliente y Callejera on street corners and on the beach.  

Carmelo began to play and while still in high school was sought out by musical director Eddie Delgado. His musical career was launched when he was accepted into Jerry Lopez’ band Orquesta Campesina. He was 16 years old. He played with them for six years.  Carmelo moved to the USA in 1984. He lived in Connecticut and there played with local salsa bands. He arrived in Lansing, without any drums, and was invited by Edgar Leon to sit in on a bomba number with Ritmo. He played with Ritmo for a couple of years. Edgar formed his own group, Orquesta Tradicion Latina, and Carmelo became the group’s percussionist. He stayed with the group for five years. In 1994 they recorded “Vamos a Empezar” the first Salsa CD produced in Michigan. The group played extensively at festivals and opened for Jerry Rivera, Ismael Miranda, and others.  Carmelo also played in the bandOrquesta Cache with musical director Diego Melendez from Detroit, Michigan.Sanchez has also recorded with Fernando Ramirez and Luis Jose Silva. Their CD “Estilos” offers homage to Bobby Capo and features many different styles. Carmelo has also performed with Orquesta Sabrosa under the direction of Rob Killips. He played with Rob for three years.

Throughout his musical career in Lansing, Carmelo has played with Mike Eyia and Orquesta Ritmo. Throughout his forays in and out of other groups, Carmelo has remained with Ritmo where he currently performs on an on-going basis. He is featured on congas, bongos, cow-bell and background vocals. 

 

 

And many more.