A New York Story...in LA

Orquestra Guayao plays that hard salsa sound

By Jose Morales
Published on LatinoLA: February 3, 2003

A New York Story...in LA

I'm very proud to see young Latino men in Los Angeles in the move and in the search for a better future. The story of how Orquesta Guayao was formed is very intriguing and encouraging.

In 1988, Armando Vasquez Jr. and Luis Vasquez departed from their native country Nicaragua and arrived in Los Angeles due the political conflicts that Nicaragua was facing in the 80's. With them, they brought a very good knowledge of music.

Of course, why wouldn't they? They were taught by their father, Armando Vasquez (1933-1998) who was the best Nicaraguan trumpetist in the country. They attended Montebello High School in the city of Montebello where they were members of the school band and won consecutive parade awards until their graduation in 1992.

When their father died in 1998, Armando Vasquez (lead singer, trombone)and Luis Vasquez (timbalero, vocalist) promised him to put together a band to honor him. In early 2000, they put together an Latin orchestra named "Sonora Caribe?a." They recruited Los Angeles musicians and that summer, they won an award at the annual Puerto Rican Parade in the city of Montebello.

Later on that year, they asked their cousin, Jose Morales, to join their band. Jose Morales is also a Nicaraguan guitarrist, percussionist and vocalist who also arrived in Los Angeles in 1989 and has been here since. They put together old 70's heavy salsa music and have captured the ears of many who have seen them play.

In early 2001, the band needed a catchier name and came up with a Mayan word which is "GUAYAO" and means HOT... or in spanish, CALIENTE. They thought it would reflect them very well since they're young, energetic and create a very heavy sounds that dancers can appreciate.

In the two and a half years that Orquesta Guayao has been together, they have performed at clubs where older bands have not been able, to such as the Century Club, Rumba Room, Cafe Sevilla (both Riverside and San Diego), Copa Cabana (Pomona), BabyRock (Club SoHo), and have intrigued the crowd at the Puerto Rican Festivals and Universities such as Universiy of Southern California (USC), Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State Northridge and others.

L.A. musicians who have had the pleasure to perform with Orquesta Guayao are Hector Reyes (Piano), Juan Ortega (Congas), Bobby D (Bongos), Paul (Bongos), Scott Sacurai (Saxophone), Carlos (bass), Brenda (trumpet), Henry (trumpet), and Mateo (trumpet), just to name a few and of course, the two brothers and cousin Armando Vasquez Jr., Luis "Guicho" Vasquez, and Jose "Chavo" Morales. Orquesta Guayao also had the pleasure to perform with the son of "El Rey del Timbal" Tito Puente Jr. in December 2001.

With all this hard work, Orquesta Guayao is going places and will soon be known everywhere.

So why do I call it "A New York Story in LA?" Because Orquesta Guayao reminds me of those great musicians who migrated to New York in the 1970's and became the mambo kings and salsa kings, and "rey del timbal," and "caballero de la salsa," who worked hard and studied hard to become what they were and still are.

Orquesta Guayao will be one of those stories twenty years from now. How do I know that? Because I, Jose "Chavo" Morales, together with my cousins Armando Vasquez Jr. and Luis "Guicho" Vasquez will continue our hard work, our dedication, our dream, and our vocation to please not just our listeners, but also ourselves as musicians and entertainers.

So if you have a dream, follow and catch up to it; don't let it leave you behind.

About Jose Morales:
Jose Morales was born in Nicaraga in 1978. San Fernando High School graduate with honor, he is a member of LA's band Orquesta Guayao. A youth basketball coach, he is in his last year at Cal State Northridge where he will receive a degree in Mathematics.

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