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SA Music Awards

2012 Latin Orchestra: Colao'

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo


San Antonians love to dance to Afro-Cuban music, but those who dance to Colao' every Friday night at Rosario's seem to enjoy it a little bit more than the rest.

While salsa itself is a danceable mix of Latin rhythms, Colao' (Puerto Rican slang for "strained," as in putting lots of ingredients through a strainer) is a lot more than just a salsa band. Led by Ray "Colao'" Rodríguez, the band isn't afraid to experiment with elements seldom used in traditional salsa bands.

"I'm Puerto Rican but I grew up in Boston, so as I learned more about stuff like jazz. I try to incorporate that into my music," said Rodríguez. "And I have such a great team of well-versed musicians that they do Latin very well, but they're just nasty when it comes to jazz."

Colao' plays several originals, but it's mostly a crowd-pleasing cover band that can brew cha cha, mambo, salsa, guaracha, son, and bachata in imaginative ways.

"We meet them half way," Rodríguez says. "We give them stuff they're familiar with but we do it our way. Hell, we even do Bruno Mars or Drake in salsa."

The orchestra always has at least seven musicians in the group, including a guitarist (Robert García) who also plays the son montuno piano parts on his instrument. But the band can grow as large as a 14-piece, including not one but two bass players. Judging by the dancers who crowd Rosario's dance floor (especially on First Friday), no one seemed to notice (or mind) that Colao' has no piano, a strange thing in a Latin orchestra.

"We're an engaging, unique, passionate orchestra," says Rodríguez. "We put on a full show and don't hold anything back."

2. Tropi Jazz
3. Henry Brun & The Latin Playerz

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