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Orquesta Broadway Celebrates 60 Years

ORQUESTA BROADWAY is a Charanga band made up of flute, violins, rhythm section, and voices. It was co-founded in 1962 by Eddy Zervigón and Roberto Torres and has proved to be one of New York’s longest-surviving Charanga bands. Eddy’s twin brother, Ruddy, a violinist, was also a founder member, and his youngest brother, Kelvin, initially played güiro (gourd scraper) and later the piano.
In 1958, Eddy and Ruddy co-led the band La Ideal. In 1960, when José Fajardo left Cuba for the USA, Eddy filled his place in his former group, renamed the Estrellas Cubanas. Eddy left Cuba in April 1962, did a four-month stint in Miami with his band, Ritmo De Estrellas, and moved to New York, where he worked with Johnny Pacheco, Arsenio Rodríguez, Joe Valle, Lou Pérez, Félix ‘Pupi’ Legarreta, Alfredito Valdés and others. Eddy and Torres lived in the same East Harlem building, rehearsing in Eddy’s apartment with accompanists drawn from neighboring blocks. After some disagreement over a name for the charanga, they eventually settled for the suggestion of a promoter, who dubbed them Orquesta Broadway because most of the band members lived in close proximity to the avenue.
Broadway debuted with Dengue (1964) on the Gema label, which contained the hit ‘Como Camina Maria.’ It released four albums between 1965 and 1968, which helped to consolidate its popularity as one of New York’s top ten bands. Broadway’s 1972 album, Como Me Gusta, contained the hit ‘Pa’ Africa‘. They visited the Ivory Coast and Paris in 1973 and Senegal in 1974.
A violent robbery prompted Eddy, accompanied by four other band members, to relocate to Miami in 1974. In their absence, the charanga Típica Ideal, led by ex-Broadway pianist Gil Suarez, helped to fill the void. Ideal released two notable albums, Vamonos Pa’Senegal Para Bailar Y Gozar (1976), featuring some fine soloing by tenor saxophonist/violinist José ‘Chombo’ Silva (b. Baracoa, Oriente Province, Cuba), and Fuera Del Mundo/Out Of This World (1978), produced by Luis ‘Perico’ Ortiz. Típica Ideal’s vocalist and co-leader, Victor Velázquez, has an impressive pedigree that includes stints with Vicentico Valdés’ band, Orlando Marín, Charlie Palmieri, Joe Quijano, Louie Ramírez, Machito’s band and recording with the Alegre All-Stars. Ideal’s flutist was ex-Eddie Palmieri’s La Perfecta accompanist, George Castro.
Broadway returned to New York in 1975 because of a lack of work in Miami. Signed to Coco Records, they released four albums between 1975 and 1981. Pasaporte (1976), produced by revered trombonist Barry Rogers, enhanced their popularity. In 1977, they were the city’s busiest band, playing fifteen dances a week. Their 1978 New York City Salsa added the trumpet of Cuban Roberto Rodríguez to the line-up. A tantalizing glimpse of Rodríguez with Broadway at the Corso Ballroom was shown in Jeremy Marre’s television film Salsa (1979). During 1980/1, Eddy, Ruddy, Kelvin, and other band members appeared on several albums produced by Roberto Torres for his SAR and allied Guajiro and Neon labels, including Roberto Torres Presenta: Ritmo De Estrellas (1980), Charanga Colonial (1981) and SAR All Stars Recorded Live In Club Ochentas (two volumes, 1981). In 1982 they released Orquesta Broadway Loves New York on their own B’way Records label and were the winning band at the Festival de Orquestas in Cali, Colombia. Before their 1987 album, Broadway made regular radio broadcasts on Al Angeloro’s WBAI show Montuno and Max Salazar’s WKCR program The Latin Musicians Show.
The band continues touring abroad, bringing the exciting sounds of Afro-Cuban music to discriminating dancers worldwide. Most recently, on November 12, 2011, Orquesta Broadway performed at the annual World Athletics Gala of The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) at the Salle des Etoiles of the Sporting Club d’Eté in the Principality of Monaco–thus becoming the second Latin band, after Cuba’s Orquesta Aragón in 2007, to be chosen to play at such prestigious affair. Broadway received the coveted “Congo de Oro ” award in Barranquilla, Colombia, on February 2013.
On Wednesday August 2, 2023, Lincoln Center and the Caribbean Cultural Center Adrian Diaspora Institute will present Orquesta Broadway Celebrates 60 Years as part of Lincoln Center’s Summer for the City series, which runs from June 14 to August 12, 2023. The event is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Dancing shoes strongly suggested! For details about the performance and upcoming events click HERE.


A graduate of Empire State College with a dual major in journalism and Latin American studies, Editor-in-Chief Tomas Peña has spent years applying his knowledge and writing skills to the promotion of great musicians. A specialist in the crossroads between jazz and Latin music, Peña has written extensively on the subject. His writing appears on Latin Jazz Network; Chamber Music America magazine and numerous other publications.


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