Performer of the tres, composer, arranger, music and radio producer, director and founder of Combo Ninguno since 1983.
He studied at the Faculty of Music of the UV, in JAZZUV, in Musinetwork in Boston MA and with teachers Luis Martinez, Carlos Tercero and Edgar Dorantes, he is a teacher of Musical Education in the Ministry of Education of Veracruz and since January 2019 participates in the direction of the Papakilistli Orchestra of the same Secretariat.
He has collaborated in television as musical director of the program “Cómo suena la clave” in TV Más. He is currently producer and host of the program “Cadencia Caribe”.
Since 1983 in Xalapa, the members of Combo perform dance music from the Antilles, integrating a repertoire with their own creations and original arrangements to themes of other authors in different musical genres such as son, guaracha, mambo, merengue, danzón, bolero, etc, achieving in their thematic diversity, a unique sound full of references to their native state of Veracruz.
He has taught workshops of appreciation and execution of Caribbean music and has participated as a lecturer and speaker on this subject in countless events, have been presented in Spain, Cuba, United States and Canada.
Accessing different forums from the small and improvised street space to large venues with capacity for tens of thousands of spectators such as the Azteca stadium or the Salsa Fest in Boca del Rio.
He has performed at prestigious cultural festivals such as the Cervantino, the Quimera, the Afro-Caribbean of Veracruz, the Vancouver Folk Festival and the International of Houston, at Fairs such as the San Marcos and the Expo Sevilla, Carnivals such as the one of Veracruz, Havana and the Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Galveston Texas.
Maestro Leo, how can you define yourself in the music scene?
I see myself as someone captivated by this music since I heard it for the first time, thanks to it I have been able to enjoy unforgettable moments and for many years I have not had a day in my life without doing something related to music. Be it as a performer, manager, broadcaster, props man, audio manager, producer, etc.
I understand that you have had many presentations abroad?
For me there have been many and I would like to have more. I think I have been fortunate to take advantage of the opportunities that have presented themselves with Combo Ninguno. I must say that personally I would never have been able to be in the places where music has taken me.
As part of your presentations you toured the U.S. How pleasant was the experience?
At one time we participated in a project to promote tourism in the State of Veracruz and we continually visited the State of Texas and then extended to Louisiana and Colorado, thanks to this an American promoter invited us to tour from coast to coast presenting a show of music and dance that began in New Hampshire and continued in New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois and other states to conclude in California after performing in New Mexico and Arizona. The program of the presentations was with original repertoire and Mexican authors.
What did it mean to you to perform for the first time in such a musical country where many great exponents of the island of Cuba came from?tional in 1989 at the Na Theater of Cuba
For me this was one of the memorable moments that I thank to music, the fact of participating with Combo Ninguno in a Gala dedicated to Mexico, in such an important place in Cuba, the country where this music was born.
I tell you that my emotion was so great that at the beginning of our performance, I could not complete the first verse of the song with which we opened, it was El jarocho by Lino Carrillo, I had to sing: Jarocho yo soy señores and I only said Jarocho, the rest was a sort of incomprehensible sounds that I could emit with a lump in my throat.
Have you had an endless number of participations in Cultural Festivals, which is the one that leaves a mark on you in your own country?
I can’t say one in particular, I remember presentations at anti-nuclear rallies where there were children, young people, adults and elderly people that were not festivals strictly speaking, a Cervantino festival where in the middle of a downpour people danced in the Alhóndiga de Granaditas under an impressive downpour, the Festival de la Nueva Canción Mexicana where we performed for the first time in 1983. And I could go on mentioning many more.
How did the Como Suena La Clave Festival come about?
This festival arises with the intention of being a showcase where to make visible and position the Mexican orchestras with original proposal. Trying to promote, preserve and spread salsa music made in Mexico.
At first the orchestras were invited to play original arrangements of songs by other composers, then they were asked to play music by national composers and nowadays they are asked to play original music complemented of course with songs by national composers.
You don’t stop, you continue harvesting and now the project Coloquio Musical Afroantillano is born, why make this new proposal?
I think that in Mexico little is reflected and little is written about this genre. It seems that when we take the music out of the dance floor, we lose the rhythm and also the step.
For some time now, most of the debates on this subject have taken place backstage and in the places where musicians and some dancers gather to refresh themselves after the events. Recently, social networks have continued with this exercise, I must point out that for decades the main topic to be discussed has been: Does salsa exist or not? Should it be called salsa or son? And I believe that among other issues, we have left aside fundamental matters such as the creative part, the economic aspect and the diffusion.
Based on this consideration and thanks to the support of Rafael Figueroa, the Festival Como suena la clave, the Centro de Estudios de la Cultura y la Comunicación of the Universidad Veracruzana and the Red de estudios de la Música Afroantillana en México convened the Colloquium La música afroantillana en México: confluencias y divergencias where the participants in a framework of cordiality and respect have made valuable contributions that will be included in a report that will be released as a digital multimedia document for free distribution.
Do you think that the music called salsa is evolving worldwide?
I don’t have the slightest doubt about it, just as I don’t hesitate to mention that due to diffusion factors we only know a small part of the new salsa music that is being made in many places and that perhaps most of the music that is more accessible to us on digital platforms is not the best.
Have you experienced the best times in music today, and what do you think is missing?
Among other things, today and always it will be necessary to contribute new music that increases the cultural heritage of this genre. We need to talk about our present without forgetting the past, about our environment and our daily life in a globalized world. We need to speak our own language and disseminate these productions in the best possible way, trying to overcome the reluctance of many towards what is new and what does not come from the places where this music has traditionally been produced.
Already with seventeen record productions, now that you have worked on them, which is the production that has marked the history of Combo Ninguno? What has been the one that has left the greatest mark on you?
Undoubtedly the most significant record production is the first one, in it, as in each of the subsequent ones, our desires and also our possibilities and limitations are recorded musically. The most present record you have now is the one you are making or that you intend to make. Each record becomes a part of your musical history and your own life.
Have I heard salsa with the jalapeño touch mentioned because of that phrase?
In our case it is an advertising phrase that alludes to the hot sauce. Salsa with jalapeño flavor. Initially it was used for our presentations in the United States where the chili peppers are called jalapeños. Today we use it by writing jalapeños with an x.
Combo None other cultural heritage that we have while we are still alive that you feel after 39 years in the music industry?
I’m looking forward to at least as many more. Looking back I realize that Combo Ninguno became a life project that has filled my days with music, so there will always be little I can do for music.
What do you expect from Leonardo Ortiz Combo Ninguno?
I have two record productions pending with Combo Ninguno, one of them is already quite advanced and I hope to finish both this year. I hope to give continuity to the Festival Como suena la clave and continue participating and enjoying everything that has to do with salsa made in Mexico.
Maestro, what would you like to say goodbye with and what message would you like to leave to the new generations?
I would invite them, besides the musical study, to try to make their contribution and leave their name in the salsa made in Mexico, to document their creativity in our reality and then communicate it in their creations, I would also ask them to debate and collaborate with their colleagues.
In their discographic work we can see a style that can be projected without problems towards the universal, but that does not cease to feed on their own Veracruz identity by offering us a combination of traditional and original pieces that exude Veracruz and Afro-Hispanic Caribbean flavor.
To date they have made seventeen recordings, seven exclusively of combo none:
– Tumba Verde (1987)
– Traigo este son (1990)
– Son de amor (1994)
– Carnaval Veracruzano (2001)
– Con Sabor a Veracruz (2005)
– La Bruja recorded at the 17th Afro-Caribbean Festival Veracruz 2011 (2012)
– Inventario- Combo Ninguno, of which the singles Descarga de las flores, Calaveritas de Azúcar and Alambre, cuero y madera have been presented.
And ten productions in which they intervene with other groups:
– Son 13 rolas antinucleares (1989).
– Somos indios (1995)
– Homenaje a Luis Martínez, recorded live at Barlovento de Xalapa in the 1st.
Festival Como Suena la Clave 1997 (1998)
– Tribute to Carlos Pitalúa, recorded live at Barlovento de Xalapa in the 2nd Festival Como Suena la Clave 1998 (1998).
Festival Como Suena la Clave 1998 (1999)
– From Son to Danzón (2000)
– Tribute to Emilio Domínguez, recorded live at Barlovento de Xalapa in the 3rd Festival Como Suena la Clave 1998 (2000)
3rd Festival Como Suena la Clave 2004 (2010)
– Con sabor a Veracruz-RTV music (2012)
– Tribute to Toña la Negra, a recording that records the V Festival Como Suena la Clave
Clave Festival held in Veracruz, Veracruz, Ver (2013)
– Salsa a la veracruzana, recording of the VI Festival Como Suena la Clave held in Veracruz, Veracruz, Veracruz, Veracruz (2015).
Veracruz, Ver (2015)
– Al Son del Covid, record of the VII Festival Como Suena la Clave held in Veracruz, Veracruz, Veracruz (2015).
virtual way in December 2020.
Erika Muñoz (La Mulata Rumbera)
Article of Interest: Maestro Jorge Anselmo Barrientos Silva, conductor, arranger and composer
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