Friday, November 7, 2008

Osvaldo "Bembesito" Lora

(Bembesito, Photo Credit: Harold M Martinez)

A couple of years ago Willie invited me to tambor de fundamento at Julia de Burgos. It was Totico's Aña, and Willie and Jose (Rivera) met me there. Willie and Jose didn't play bata but were there to help with the ankori section. When I got there I saw a couple of people that I had been following for some time already. As I walked up from across the street I saw Jonathan Troncoso outside talking to Camilo Molina, and someone else. When I got inside the guys were just setting up and Ted "Woochie" Holiday would be playing Iya, Mikel Sotolongo was going to play itotele and Ramin Quintana would be playing okonkolo.

Then a high pitch voice brings in the oro, and it is non other than Osvaldo "Bembesito" Lora. I had heard of Bembesito through Felix previously but had never heard him sing live. Supposedly he was this great young apkwon, and let me tell you he definitely lived up to the hype. His knowledge and "Africania" as Willie calls it is off the charts. Just imagine a Dominican "Cusito" singing the hell out of a tambor. Without a doubt Bembe is not only one of the great "young" singers in the NYC, but probably one of the best "all around" singers period, and the great thing about it is that he does it so effortlessly.

(A younger Bembesito, guess which one he is?)

I reached out to Bembe and asked him for some biographical info which I will share with all of you. From what I can gather Osvaldo Lora is out of Queens, and is of Dominican descent.

RD: At what point did you decide to start playing and whom or what influenced you early on?

OL: I have been a percussionist since I was 14 and I'm now 28. I went to Boys Harbor and studied under people like Jose Madera (Tito Puente's musical director an arranger) and also Victor Rendon, etc. I played with many Latin Jazz Orquestras and big bands. I was also involved in the bachata scene

RD: I understand that early on you have played with Babaila and Felix's groups, were you singing then or just playing?

OL: I started playing folkloric later on after getting initiated into Santeria (Regla de Ocha) where I got heavy into the orisha music and started with many of the locally known musicians of that scene, including Mario Pipo Diaz, Babaila, El Moro, Frank Bell, Totico, Roman Diaz, Pedrito Martinez, and many more. I am sworn to Anya Ade wich is Awo Orunmila Oshebile's (Felix Sanabria's) fundamento.

RD: I understand that Ilu Aye came out of an earlier group called "La Yuma", how did La Yuma start and what was its purpose?

OL: Most of the Ilu Aye members are sworn to it (Anya Ade). Ilu Aye was was started by Jonathan Troncoso when he started putting all its components together so for more info I'm a give his number so you can contact him...

*Bembesito was gracious enough to respond to my inquiry via cellphone/text.

When I saw Bembesito and Ilu Aye at La Pregunta on Labor Day Weekend, they really did their thing. Bembesito sang some bomba, rumba, bembe, palo, and if you were there you know that the place was literally rocking.

Bembesito is a serious student and has really done his homework when it comes to the songs. Jose would tell me that at times Bembesito would sing something at a guiro/bembe that no one would be up on, and when asked about it, he would shrug it off like nothing. Bembe's maturation is truly something to note, as he seemed to have developed quite a repertoire in a rather short time. Although it could be that he was playing low key until it was the right time. Something about the rumba/santo scene, as they say, "Si no sabes no te metas".

Nowadays Bembe is a first call apkwon, and is currently doing things on the R&B side as well. We at Sentimiento just want to give props where due, and Bembe if you are reading this, keep doing you thing, and keep your head in those books.

(Bembesito & ?, Photo Credit: Ralph)

(Video Credits: Dennis Flores)


Eddie Harper said...

Osvaldo has always and will always be blessed with the aché of the Santos and Muertos because of his respect and love for them and all mankind. I have and am privileged to be a friend of his...may he continue to grow musically and spiritually.
Eddie Harper

Derrick Zikizela said...

Hey guys this is Bembesito and i just want to let you guys know i have littile treat coming up for all soon so stay tuned check out my website to get a preview...

Sentimiento Manana said...

what you got Bembe? Recording...don't keep us in the dark too long