Tregar Otton (Violin, Director, Composer, Arranger), born in the Marshall Islands and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas. Otton began his classical music training at the age of four. At 16 he was the youngest member to join the Berkeley Symphony under Maestro Kent Nagano. At 15, Nagano asked Tregar to compose a Symphonic Suite, which was performed by the Oakland Youth Symphony (under Nagano's baton).
Tregar has been a part of the Bay Area Latin music scene since 1990, working primarily with Orq. La Moderna Tradición, Los Cenzontles, and Potaje. While living in New York in the 90's, he played as a regular member of Virgilo Martí y sus Majaderos — other members of this group included Cuban legends Chocolate Armenteros and Patato Valdez, as well as Joe Santiago. While in New York, he also worked closely with Juan Carlos Formell, and worked with the celebrated New York Charanga groups Orquesta Broadway and La Típica Novel.
Tregar founded Orquesta La Moderna Tradición with Roberto Borrell in 1995.
Michael Spiro (Co-Director, Tumbadoras (Congas)), is an internationally recognized percussionist, recording artist, and educator, known specifically for his work in the Latin music field. He has performed on hundreds of records, co-produced several instructional videos for Warner Bros. Publications (featuring such renowned artists as David Garibaldi, Changuito, Giovanni Hidalgo, and Ignacio Berroa), and produced seminal recordings in the Latin music genre, including Orquesta Batachanga, Grupo Bata-Ketu, and Grupo Ilu-Aña.
Spiro's formal education includes a Bachelor's Degree with Honors in Latin American Studies from the University of California, and three and a half years of graduate work in ethnomusicology at the University of Washington. His practical education consists of a seven year apprenticeship with Francisco Aguabella, and extensive study throughout Latin America. He has studied annually in Cuba since 1984 with musicians such as Jose Luis Quintana ("Changuito"), Esteban Vega Bacallao ("Cha-Cha"), Daniel Diaz and Juan "Claro" Blanco of Orquesta Ritmo Oriental, Regino Jimenez, Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, and Grupo Afro-Cuba de Matanzas. In addition, in 1986 he spent two months training at G.R.E.S. Portela, the famous Escola de Samba in Rio de Janeiro.
Michael is a Professor of Music at Indiana University, and has been a faculty member or artist in residence at the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford University, Mt. Holyoke, University of Massachusetts, University of Missouri, BYU, Smith College, Wichita State University, Banff Center of the Arts, California State University at San Diego, University of North Carolina, Winthrop College in South Carolina and The Cornish Institute of the Arts, and has conducted clinics and master classes at numerous universities throughout North America and Europe, as well as several national and statewide conventions of P.A.S. (The Percussive Arts Society) and the I.A.J.E. (International Association of Jazz Educators).
Mr. Spiro's recording and performing credits include such diverse artists as David Byrne, Dori Caymmi, Changuito, Richard Egues, Frank Emilio Flynn, Ella Fitzgerald, David Garibaldi, Gilberto Gil, Giovanni Hidalgo, Ray Holman, Toninho Horta, Bobby Hutcherson, Dr. John, Mark Levine, Machete Ensemble, Bobby McFerrin, Andy Narell, Ray Obiedo, Chico O'Farrill, Eddie Palmieri, Lazaro Ros, David Rudder, Carlos Santana, Grace Slick, Omar Sosa, Clark Terry, McCoy Tyner and Charlie Watts.
Mike is a founding member of Orq. la Moderna Tradición.
Visit Michael's website to learn more about his recordings.
Jesus "Chus" Alonso (Flute) was born in Spain where he received an eclectic musical education. During his childhood he played guitar, Spanish lute, piano, and sang in folkloric groups. At age 18 he moved to Madrid to study flute and percussion in the Conservatory. Looking for an alternative education he studied with Pedro Iturralde, the first Spanish musician who explored the fusion between flamenco and jazz. Later, in Barcelona, Alonso continued his education with jazz composers such as That Jones and Chuck Israels. He also began to play Latin music guided by Chilean composer and pianist, Mario Lecaros. In 1981-82 he studied flute technique with Ellen Toettcher in Berlin, Germany.
Alonso moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1984 where he has been active in both the flamenco and Latin artistic communities. He has played with numerous flamenco companies and Latin music ensembles including Theatre Flamenco (Spanish dance and flamenco company), Conjunto Cespedes (Cuban music), Fuego Vivo (flamenco company), Orquesta Ritmo y Armonía (Cuban music), La Tania Music and Dance (flamenco company), Guillermo Rios' Soul of Spain (flamenco music), Aidavú (Latin music) and Rosa Montoya Flamenco Company.
Since 1992, Alonso is the composer and leader of Potaje, an ensemble that creates new music rooted in flamenco, Latin music and jazz.
Teaching has been an important part of Alonso's professional activities. He has given hundreds of workshops on flamenco and Latin music in universities, music schools, conservatories, and elementary, middle and high schools. Since 1994 Alonso teaches at the Community Music Center in San Francisco. He is also the Program Director of the Community Music Center since 2002.
Chus is a founding member of Orq. la Moderna Tradición.
You can read more about him on his website.E-Mail
Sage Baggott (Güiro, Bongó, Coro (background vocals)) is a third-generation drummer who was raised in Berkeley, California and Austin, Texas. With a father in the music business, he grew up in honky-tonks and nightclubs listening to a variety of music, ranging from Western Swing and country, to rockabilly, R&B, Tex-Mex and jazz.
He has a diverse musical education. Having studied classical percussion from an early age, today he plays many different styles, including Afro-Cuban, Flamenco, traditional Mexican music and jazz.
He currently performs with many different Bay Area groups, ranging from the Cuban dance music of Orquesta La Moderna Tradición to a cappella versions of Leonard Cohen songs with Conspiracy of Beards.
Sage is a founding member or Orq. la Moderna Tradición
Carlos Caro (Pailas (Timbales)). Carlos M. Caro was born in Havana, Cuba in 1967. He studied at the Alejandro Garcia Caturla Conservatory in Havana and also attended The National School of Art Instructors (ENIA) Upon graduation from ENIA, he began his professional musical career with the group Clave. Among the note-worthy musicians who played with him in Clave were “Puly” Hernandez, the current lead singer of Dan Den, as well as the sons of the revered Cuban trombonist, Juan Pablo Torres. 1990 saw him begin a new stage in his career as the first bongocero for Opus 13, a band which eventually metamorphosed into Paulo y su Elite. During his two and a half year involvement with the band, he recorded two albums.
In late 1993, he emigrated to Mexico. Taking up residence in Mexico City, he played with 40 Grados, La Ley, La Rumbantela and with other Cuban ensembles. In Mexico City, he was honored to be asked to record and perform a work in Danzón style with the Mexico City Philharmonic. The work was performed at the Palace of Fine Arts in 1996, shortly before moving to the San Francisco area.
Carlos was recently voted the “Best Bongocero of All Time” by Timba.com. He released a CD, "Vision Latina", self-produced along with Marco Diaz and Saul Sierra. Carlos is currently putting the finishing touches on his next Vision Latina CD.
You can get more information about the CD and his other projects at CarlosCaro.net.
Don Gardner (Clarinet), born in Oakland, California, began his musical education with the clarinet and plays the flute and saxophone as well. He has great appreciation of jazz, blues, and Latin music from various countries-especially from Cuba and Venezuela.
Don is a founding member of La Moderna Tradición.
Eduardo Herrera (Lead Vocals, Coro) was raised on a diet of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Venezuelan music in Caracas, Venezuela. He sang opera de camara with the Venezuelan Chamber choir before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1985. He has worked with, as lead vocalist, in several Bay Area ensembles including Charanson, QBA, La Moderna Tradición, Benny Velarde's Super Combo, and La Internacional de Tito Garcia among others. Eduardo has also shared stages with Los Van Van, Larry Harlow, Fajardo, Yomo Toro, Afro Cuban All Stars, Bamboleo and many others.
Marco Diaz (Piano) was born and raised in San Francisco and was introduced to the trumpet in the fourth grade at E.R. Taylor Elementary School. His formal training in both piano and trumpet began at the age of 14. He earned a scholarship from the Community Music Center in San Francisco, and began playing professionally at the age of 17 throughout the Bay Area with various Latin Jazz, Salsa, Reggae, and R&B bands. Upon graduating from high school, he continued his studies at San Francisco State University pursing a Bachelors of Arts in Popular Music and a minor in Economics.
In addition to his studies Marco has been influenced by Afro-Cuban music through world renowned musicians, such as, Jesus Diaz, who he played and recorded with for eight years, John Santos, Orestes Vilato, Edgardo Cambon, and Carlos Caro.
Today, Marco is an accomplished recording musician who has shared the stage with Grammy Award winning artist, Israel "Cachao" Lopez, Jimmy Bosch, Pete "El Conde" Rodriguez, Ska Cubano (Europe), Tito Rojas, Nino Segarra, Anthony Cruz, Anthony Blea, Jovino Santos Neto, Joe Santiago, and is an integral member of the John Santos sextet, Bobi Cespedes group, and Doug Beavers' Orquesta Rovida. Marco has participated in the San Francisco Symphony AIM program since 2000 and currently produces records and performs music throughout the country while also co-leading Vission Latina, an Afro-Caribbean dance band.
In 2011, Marco Diaz was part of the faculty at Jazz Camp West. He toured the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington State with Bobi Cespedes, teaching children and adults the roots of Afro-Cuban music. Marco also performed at the San Francisco, Tanglewood, and Monterey Jazz Festivals, and the Smithsonian Museum with world renowned ethno-musicologist, John Santos and his Sextet. In the Fall, Marco began his ninth season with the San Francisco Symphony's AIM (adventures in music) program.
Sandy Poindexter (Violin), from Oakland, California, has played violin since a very young age. She is a versatile musician who plays jazz and classical music as well as other genres. Sandy has toured the U.S. and abroad with John Handy playing concerts and festivals.
Sandy is a founding member of La Moderna Tradición.
Felix Samuel (lead vocals, coro, hand percussion), from Havana, Cuba, was born into a musical family - his father was the legendary "Sammy" Samuel, lead singer of Ritmo Oriental, one of the most revered and popular Charanga groups Cuba has produced. Felix began his professional career at the age of 19 in Havana performing in Cabaret Paresien at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba in Havana. Felix then works in many Cuban productions as a lead performer touring Cuba, Mexico and South America extensively. These productions include Salseando, Cabaret Paresien, Asi Somos.
In 1999, Felix was invited to perform in the Roma Capanele salsa festival in Rome, leading to a seven year stay in Lisbon, Portugal. While in Lisbon, Felix collaborated with Cubanissimo, founded his own group, Felix y su Ache, and performed in some of the most prestigious venues and festivals in Portugal including Parque Palmela, Casino da Figueira da Figueira da Foz, Casino Estoril, outdoor city festivals (Paço De Arcos, Alentejo-Redondo), Festival do Teatro de Almada, Casa de America Latina (Lisboa).
While settling in Mozambique in 2007, Felix founded and directed a Mozambique/Cuban music and dance group producing two shows "Evolution (Evoluçao)" and Metamorphosis (Metamorfoses) presented in the Franco-Mozambican Centre and the University Cultural Centre. In Mozambique, Felix made numerous television appearances as a performer and Jurist.
Felix has been in San Francisco Bay since 2008 performing with Tito y Su Son de Cuba, Jesus Diaz y su QBA, Pellejo Seco and Vision Latina. He has been performing with Orq. la Moderna Tradición since mid-2009.
Steve Senft-Herrera (Bass), born in Sacramento, California, began his musical studies at age fourteen with the piano. Since changing to bass as his instrument, he has dedicated himself to the study and performance of Cuban music and jazz.
Steve is a founding member of La Moderna Tradición.E-Mail