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Pa’lante is back on the scene after being one of Portland’s favorite bands for two decades, playing latin jazz, salsa, cumbia, merengue and timba for listening and dancing. The band features a combination of veterans from the old days along with some new faces.
Pa’lante was started in 1985 by percussionist, Nick Gefroh. It evolved from Nick’s previous band “Manteca” which in turn evolved from Portland’s 1st salsa band “Montuno”.,
Pa’lantes first gig in 1985 was opening act for the great Mongo Santamaria and it took off from there. From 1985 to 2005 Pa’lante played innumerable parties, clubs, weddings, festivals, etc. before going into hibernation.
Now the band is back with renewed energy! Many of the original members are back, and they are playing better than ever!
A typical Pa’lante set might include some cooking Latin jazz, salsa, cumbia, merengue, bolero, cha cha cha, all designed especially for dancing but listeners will be rewarded as well.
Pa’lante is proud to feature the sensational Miguel Bernal from Havana, Cuba. Portland is lucky to have this afro-cuban master!
Meet the Band!
Nick Gefroh, timbales, percussion, vocals
After many years as a jazz drummer in Portland, L.A. and New York. Nick helped start Portland’s first Latin Jazz band in the mid 70’s with a group called Montuno. After that he led a band called Manteca, which later developed into Pa’lante. He took years off to travel and study in South America and recently traveled to Cuba. In the last year, Nick has also achieved the title of “Tamborero Consagrado” (player of the sacred bata drums).
In addition to his work with his own bands, he has been a sideman in many bands throughout the years, including Bobby Torres, Thara Memory, Jim Pepper, Carl Smith and Walter Bridges.
Nick hosts KMHD’s Latin Jazz show, Thursday Night Descarga, on Portland’s jazz station KMHD, 89.1 from 7 to 9 pm every Thursday. He also hosts Jazz Lives on KBOO 90.7 fm every Wednesday from noon to 2 pm.
Miguel Bernal, congas, percussion, vocals
Miguel Bernal is a master Afro Cuban percussionist from Havana, Cuba where he was the principal percussionist for folkloric dance company “Raices Profundas” for 20 years. Before moving to Portland, Miguel trained Conjunto Folklorico Orishaoco percussionists, and played with Conjunto Folklorico of the University of Havana. He attained the highest Cuban government ranking a percussionist can be classified as. Miguel has also been a “Tamborero Consagrado” (player of the sacred bata drums) since 1990. Miguel is in great demand as a performer as well as a teacher. He taught at the International School of Arts, as well as being one of the founders of Humboldt State University’s “Afro Cuba Camp,” where he continues to instruct during the summer. Pa’lante is lucky to have him
Marty Velez, bongo, percussion, vocals
Marty plays congas and percussion. Originally from L.A., Marty is a veteran of the Portland Salsa scene. He has played for extended periods with Pa’lante, Alegre, Afincando, Agua Miel and others!
Francisco Marmolejo, saxophone, flute
Francisco is originally from Palm Springs. He is a truly invaluable player and a charter member of the band. He plays saxophone and flute. He is a talented musician, arranger and veteran of many bands including, NU SHOOZ, Walter Bridges, Felicidades and his own band, Quico.
Peter Piazza, trombone, violin
Another charter member of Pa’lante, Peter is on the trombone and violin. He has played with a variety of bands in Portland for many years, including Carl Smith and the Natural Gas, Thara Memory and is currently with the Portland Opera. He is a mainstay with the band and was dubbed Pa’lante’s “ace in the hole,” by an Oregonian reviewer. He has his own CD out called, Gut Feelings.
Eric Beam, trumpet
Eric is a dynamic, young trumpeter. He has completed a rigorous P.S.U. music program. He plays with various jazz and Latin jazz bands around Portland.
Isa Perez, lead singer
Isa is a talented Cuban transplant with a great voice and spirit. Since arriving in Portland, she led her own groups as well as being featured with Alegre and others.
Rod Wooten, piano
Rod started as a trombonist playing in bands around Portland. He was an original member of NU SHOOZ. Later, he switched to piano and he has played with virtually every salsa band in Portland. He grooves hard in the Latin vein.
Jeff Burres, percussion
Jeff is a multiple percussionist and solid as a rock. He is a serious student of Afro-Cuban and West African drumming. Along with Nick and Miguel, Jeff has also achieved the title of “Tamborero Consagrado” (player of the sacred bata drums).
Tom Kay, bass
An exciting and funky bassist, Tom has honed his craft playing with all the Afro-Cuban and salsa bands in the area, including Bobby Torres, Alegre, Aguamiel, and more.