"Since its inception in 2013, Somos El Son has made a solid impression on the San Francisco Salsa scene.
The ten-piece ensemble led by Grammy Winner Braulio Barrera has given Bay Area dancers exactly what they want: Sassiness and Swing. Their delivery of Cuban Classics from the Beny More and Celia Cruz eras leave audiences craving for more. Known for their ability to keep dancers moving incessantly, Somos El Son occasionally ventures into areas that are avoided by other Salsa bands. Their Cha Cha interpretation of John Legend’s “All of Me” is a perfect example of the band’s willingness to experiment successfully with other possibilities. Nonetheless, it’s their unique sense of rhythm and timing that makes this group popular, placing them in high demand at Salsa venues throughout Northern California. With vocals from Barrera and Alejandra Guillen at the helm, Somos El Son enjoys slinging their audiences into overdrive as they approach six years together. Their current CD features selections from the past and present that make for a delightful dancing and listening experience. Being one of San Francisco's busiest bands, Somos El Son is definitely on a trajectory for continuing success in the coming year. "
- Alberto Miguel Aponte -
Copyright 2013. Somos El Son - salsa band. All rights reserved.
YOU CAN’T HELP BUT DANCE by Arturo Riera MisterLatinJazz
I first saw Braulio Barrera perform at the opening of a Peruvian Restaurant, Fresca, in San Francisco’s sleepy Inner Sunset. He was playing bongo with a small combo led by SFJAZZ education director, Rebeca Mauleon, for the special event. After 25 years in artist relations for Latin Percussion, I thought I knew all the Bay Area percussionists. I was impressed by Barrera’s bongo playing and even more by his singing. I could hear the tambor and vocal quality of the famous Cuban bandleader, Machito, in his voice and an “old school” authenticity to his playing which was tasty ear candy. From that moment I knew he was someone special and was on my radar.
Braulio Barrera is from Peru and has been a professional musician since age 19, ultimately gaining a cherished slot backing Peruvian diva, Cecilia Barraza. As a studio musician, his cajon playing can be heard in movie soundtracks for Motorcycle Diaries and Cane. He really became a name on the local scene as founding member of the Grammy winning, Pacific Mambo Orchestra. This Latin big band is comprised of local bandleaders and top Bay Area musicians. The rhythm section featuring Santana’s, Karl Perazzo, showed Barrera had the chops to hang and shine in this hard-working band. His vocals really added to the old school Latin big band sound they were trying to recreate.
Braulio Barrera decided to break out on his own and formed a 10-piece band, Somos el son. Like any big city in America, the local music scene is usually made up of bands who share many of the same players. That is why it is no surprise members of Pacific Mambo Orchestra, such as PMO co-founder and director, trumpeter Steffen Kuhen and conguero, Javier Cabanillas, are also part of Somos el Son. PMO alums and band-leader Jamie Dubberly and Mara Foxare the Bones in the band and veteran salsero, Bill Ortega Jr., on trumpet fill out this seasoned band.
Braulio Barrera’s first album as a bandleader released in 2017 is titled, Como Te Sone (How I did I sound?). The first tune, Somos El Son De La Salsa, proclaims the mission of the band, to play salsa and make you dance! Braulio is a master of the genre but also brings in Cuban dance influences and love tunes just to take advantage of powerhouse Cuban vocalist, Alexis Guillen. He experiments with salsa in English, not my bag at all, but does a great job with John Legend’s, All Of Me. A fun arrangement and a nod to the video game, Mario Bros, has the iconic character dancing salsa. Erick Peralta on keys, Kevin Silveira on bass and Martin Villamizar on timbales swing really hard through all through nine tracks of the CD.
In today’s “What Music Business?” environment that has forced the evolution of the self-published artist, Latin musicians struggle to create a body of work. Somos El Son is a world-class effort and achieves it’s goal of keeping the dancers on their feet. Barrera’s Latin American take on salsa is totally authentic and hard-driving and heavily influenced by Fania, Celia, Benny Moré, Machito y mas. If you are a fan of old school salsa, a great rhythm section and tight vocal and horn arrangements, do not miss Somos el Son in concert or their Como Te Sone release available on ©CD Baby, ©Itunes and ©Amazon. www.somoselson.com
Arturo Riera - Mister Latin Jazz