Salsa Sin Fronteras

Japan's Orquesta de la Luz to perform at Salsa Congress, May 30

By Dena Burroughs
Published on LatinoLA: May 26, 2004

Salsa Sin Fronteras

Orquesta De La Luz was formed by singer Nora Shoji and percussionist Gen Ogimi twenty years ago in 1984, and became the only other Salsa band in Japan at the time, next to Orquesta del Sol.

Nora and Gen, originally funk musicians, looked carefully into the work of Cuban artists such as Los Van Van, Alberto Alvarez, Chucho Valdez, and singers like Isaac Delgado and Celia Cruz [both of whom Nora would eventually sing along with] for inspiration and guidance.

Nora studied Spanish, and the band created a repertoire of songs with Spanish, Japanese and English lyrics. Then in 1987 Nora traveled to New York carrying a demo tape, a video and some pictures of Orquesta De La Luz, and set to find an agent.

Richie Bonilla responded to her call and was impressed by what he saw. He promised Nora that if her band managed to make it to New York, he would arrange some club bookings for it. Good on his word, two years later Orquesta De La Luz performed six times during their two-week stay in the city. After their last performance, Ralph Mercado, the leading Salsa promoter, discussed with them the possibility of a contract, and eventually became the band?s distributor in the U.S.

Such was the beginning of ten years of prolific performance and recording work that resulted in many original songs and five albums.

In 1997 the group dissolved so that its members? could work on their solo careers.

Four years later, in 2001, the thought of a reunion came up as a result of the unfortunate events of 9/11. Nora, who felt a special attachment to the city of New York, was devastated by the news of the terrorist attacks and felt the need to do something to help the affected and to encourage peace.

She believed it would be especially symbolic if Orquesta De La Luz could get together for the cause, since back in 1993 the band had received a Metal of Peace from the United Nations.

Her wish materialized when, on October 21st, 2002, ?The One Day Reunion of Orquesta De La Luz for World Peace? concert was held in Tokyo, Japan. The festival gathered funds that were later donated to the UNICEF.

This Sunday, May 30th, Orquesta De La Luz will perform at the Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood, as part of the West Coast Salsa Congress, sharing the stage with a band that needs no introduction, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico. The $40 tickets can be purchased by calling 310/445 9705, logging to http://www.atpevents, or at the door.

Consider the opportunity to see Orquesta De La Luz prove Nora?s song lyrics true, that ?Salsa no tiene fronteras, la m?sica no tiene fronteras?.

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