salsa & latin-jazz orchestra

The Ocho Rios orchestra was active for over twenty years in the field of Afro-Caribbean music in Italy, always keeping in track with the innovations of this music style, which is rapidly evolving in spite of being attached to its popular roots.

The orchestra featured musicians with different cultural backgrounds (from traditional music to jazz and pop) and different origins (Italy, Slovenia, Venezuela, Colombia, Tunisia). Some of them did attend specialized music courses in New York and Cuba. The orchestra itself acted, in practice, as a preparatory school in salsa and Latin jazz at an epoch in which this music was virtually unknown in Europe. Some of the musicians of the band, such as Davide Giovannini, Maurizio Ravalico, Stefano Muscovi, Aljoša Jerič and Giovanni Toffoloni are presently working as members of international bands.

Components of the Ocho Rios orchestra in the year 2000. From left to right (top): Pedro Fajardo, Nevio Zaninotto, Juan Vladilo, Sergio Bernetti, Flavio Davanzo, Stefano Muscovi; (bottom): Aljoša Jeric, Jacques Centonze, Leo Curri, and Giovanni Toffoloni.

Cover of the Ocho Rios disc recorded at Ljubljana

short history of the orchestra

In 1987 Ocho Rios produced their own record in Ljubljana for the recording company Yugoton with the participation of international level jazz musicians, such as the vibrafonist Boško Petrovic and the trumpetist Peter Ugrin. Each composition of this work is original and characterized by 5-voices arrangements for the brass section written by the violinist of the band, Vlado Batista.

The orchestra took part in several recording sessions in radio and TV stations, often playing live. In 1998 Ocho Rios produced an original version of Luigi Tenco's song "Vedrai" for the recording company IRMA records. During the long period of its activity the orchestra played in a large number of concerts in Italy and abroad. We list below the most important ones.

  • Concert for the 70th birthday of Dizzy GILLESPIE, at the presence of Dizzy himself and of his most famous jazz musician friends from the States and from Europe (Bassano della Grappa, September 1987).

    Jacques Centonze with Dizzy Gillespie just before the concert at Bassano del Grappa (1987)

  • IX Zagreb Jazz Festival, in collaboration with the vibrafonist Boško PETROVIC (October 1987).

  • Evening at the Palatrussardi concert hall with Mory KANTE's african band (Milano, April 1988).

  • Concert for AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL with the legendary group OSIBISA and the reggae band STEEL PULSE (Padova, December 1988).

  • Series of concerts at the hotel KHEOPS in the framework of Italian-Tunisian cultural exchange events (Hamamet, Tunisia, August 1989).

  • New Year's eve at the famous Grand Hotel in Rimini (New Year's eve 1990).

  • Series of concerts at the prestigious jazz musiclub Atlantis in Basel (Switzerland, January 1990).

  • Opening ceremony of the International Festival of Latin-American Films (Trieste, September 1990).

  • Presentation of the book "Fidel" by italian reporter Gianni MINÁ at the presence of the author (Terni, July 1991).

  • Series of 4 shows at the "Paradiso" in Rimini with italian TV stars Milly Carlucci, Alba Parietti, Amanda Lear, Dalila di Lazzaro (June 1992).

  • Support music band for Miriam MAKEBA in Piazza Duomo (Milano, February 1993).

  • National Salsa Festival organized by "Swing Latino" (Florence, December 1995).

  • Jazz Festival "Meridiani" (Viterbo, February 1997).

  • Lignano Jazz Festival (August 1997).

  • Concert "Salsa con clase" at the University of Munich (Germany, October 1997).

  • Partecipation to a live TV show produced by RAI 3 during the regional elections in Friuli-Venezia-Giulia (June 1998).

  • Concert at the auditorium of Gorizia, in the framework of the music Festival "Squarci" (December 1998).

  • National Salsa Festival «Mirada Cubana» (Florence, May 2000).

  • International Film Festival at Venice (Lido di Venezia, September 2000).

  • Concert for the ceremony of the awards of best theater actors in Slovenia (Maribor, October 2001).

  • National Salsa Festival «Mirada Cubana» (Florence, May 2002).

  • International Lent Festival of Jazz and popular music (Maribor, June 2002).