Chico Alvarez is a native New Yorker specializing in Cuban dance music. He was born in Brooklyn, grew up in Cuba and has been performing as a singer throughout the greater New York City area for the last four decades. He has recorded various albums and fronted several small bands and orchestras including the well known ten piece conjunto "Mafímba" and the highly explosive and ambitious concert big band known as "Palomonte". Whenever he is not performing, he dedicates his time to writing and documenting Afro-Cuban and Latin American music and is the host of "New World Gallery", a weekly music show which airs on Sunday afternoons on WBAI Pacifica Radio (99.5 FM). During the "salsa boom" of the seventies he was instrumental in designing hundreds of attractive album covers, logos and posters for various record labels. Ultimately, he moved on to pursue his first love, writing. Chico was a featured staff writer for Latin Beat magazine and many of his written works can be found online, via
Mauricio Smith, Jr., was born in Panama and currently resides in New York City. At age 15 he was already a sensational flutist. He studied music at the National Conservatory of Panama, and in addition, he studied with several great musicians/composers like: Professor Eduardo Charpentier, Roberto Pitre, Mauricio Smith Sr. and many others. His main influence in music (and flute) was his mentor and father, who gave him his guidance, but Mauricio's passion and energy is his own, which is evident in his personal style and his performances. Mauricio is also a member of the popular charanga Orquesta Novel, a traditional Cuban dance band. He is also quite proficient at playing straight ahead jazz.
Chico and Mauricio share the same tastes in music and have been working together in various types of aggregations since 2000, and have recently teamed up to create the ultimate dance band - RAN KAN KAN. They often work as a quartet, quintet and sextet - for smaller venues - and their sound is quite unique in that it blends the very Cuban flute/violin charanga sound with the more brassy New York conjunto sound. The core members of the group always remain the same, but the instrumentation changes according to the needs of the public. Sometimes it's trumpet, trombone and sax and others times it's violin, trumpet and flute. They even have a specific set-up and repertoire for a 16 piece orchestra that performs in concert settings. The large orchestra has performed at NYU's Skirball Center, Lincoln Center Out-Of-Doors and Midsummer Night's Swing, Summer Stage at Central Park and Celebrate Brooklyn, as well as at various outdoor concerts outside the tri-state area.
The core group is very versatile, and each musician is able to interpret a broad range of genres and styles, such as jazz, latin jazz, salsa, charanga, mambo - even music for listening, and of course private dinner parties.
SERGIO RIVERA (PIANO),
MARIO RODRIGUEZ (BASS),
JOE AYALA (CONGA DRUMS),
HECTOR TORRES (TIMBALES),
JAHN CARLOS LAMPREA (BONGOES & PERCUSSION),
JOSE LUIS (TRUMPET),
RAFY MALKIEL (TROMBONE),
MAURICIO SMITH JR. (SAX & FLUTE),
CHICO ALVAREZ (VOCAL & PERCUSSION),
ROBERT RODRIGUEZ (TRUMPET)