Mike Arroyo 40/20 The Concert (The past July 19, 2021, San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Using Jazz to praise God, guitarist Mike Arroyo performed yesterday, Sunday, July 18, 2021 at the René Marqués Hall of the Centro de Bellas Artes in Santurce. As Mike himself said in front of a packed hall, yesterday’s concert became a dream come true.
At 4:50 p.m. the first call was heard over the loudspeaker. Seven minutes later, the second call was heard at full volume, which interrupted the public’s excitement as they began to settle into their seats. Five minutes after the scheduled time, the third and last call was heard; which immediately gave way to the greeting of the moderator already on stage, but not before opening the show with the usual invocation. It became clear that although the concert honored Mike Arroyo’s career, during that time the guitarist has dedicated himself body and soul to praise God.
The title 40/20 originates from the 40 years since Mike Arroyo acquired his first electric guitar, an Ovation Thunderhead® that had belonged to the tres player Nelson Gonzalez.
The acquisition of the guitar is still an enigma difficult to explain in earthly terms. Thus life, this shocking story, which in 1981 transformed the lives of Mike Arroyo and Nelson Gonzalez paved a path that 20 years later would see Mike’s first Jazz album, Straigth To Heaven (2001) see the light of day. It would be good to bring up the guitar transaction for discussion, but not before exposing the provenance of the guitar.
Shortly before the transaction described here, Nelson Gonzalez lost his house with all the belongings in it due to a fire. To Nelson’s surprise, the guitar, which later passed into Mike’s hands, was not only the only item to survive the fire, but remained intact. That fact alone is incredible, but in the face of a structure that was totally destroyed it looks even more dramatic. Nelson took the surviving item – his guitar – into storage. However, the custodian of the guitar decided to dispose of it as payment in exchange for a service. That third person who received the guitar as payment for that service, must have understood that the guitar had not been acquired in a lawful manner, so he sold it for $140.00 to a young Mike; who had to commit himself to pay small amounts until the agreed amount was paid off.
Shortly thereafter, already in the process of normalizing his life after that same fire that had spared the guitar, Nelson returned to reclaim the guitar from whoever had deposited it. Since the custodian of the guitar no longer had it with him, Nelson set about the task of locating it. Nelson received information about the whereabouts of the guitar itself, which at that moment became – unsuspectingly – the link between the two musicians. Nelson went to Mike Arroyo’s home where he saw with his own eyes the effort the young man had made to get his hands on that guitar.
The respectable Arroyo family explained, the young musician pleaded and Nelson Gonzalez decided to part with the guitar, the only material object that had survived the destruction of the Gonzalez home, to give it to Mike. At that moment, Nelson became Mike’s musical godfather and the guitar became the divine plan that made Mike a pioneer in Sacred Jazz, a Latin rhythm of light and spiritual tonalities. The surprise of the night was the presentation of Nelson Gonzalez with Mike Arroyo, eternally united by the musical instrument that was also the instrument of that divine plan that remains intact.
Mike is recognized in the music scene as a pioneer and precursor of “Christian Jazz” with 6 record productions and two video DVD productions. In 2017 he innovated the stages by performing a concert in the traditional format of “Jazz Organ Trio” being Brian Charette and Vince Ector the international guest musicians of that event that took place at the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico.
Aware of the need to strengthen us as a people, through his “Jazz with a spiritual touch”; just as 40 years ago Nelson gave Mike that magical instrument, yesterday Mike gave the public a masterful concert, presented by BCC (Breñas Community Church). It should be noted that BCC is the church where Mike has been pastor for 15 years.
The select group of accompanying musicians included the piano of Puerto Rico: Luis Marín, Gabriel Rodríguez, Jimmy Rivera, Héctor Matos on drums, José Nelson Ramírez, Tommy Lee on tumbadoras and Giovanny Rodríguez in his first performance with his former teacher -Luis Marín-. I imagine that no one will be surprised if it is stated that Luis Marín’s chords were gravitating towards salsa, while Tommy Lee prophesied in correspondence on the leather of the tumbadoras. Also singing were: Yanira Torres, Gilda González, Janet Hernández, Alma Galarza and Vanessa Rosado.
Photos: Miguel Rojas Candelario ©.
During these 40 years Mike has stood out musically with Christian groups and singers such as Renovación Cristiana, Abba Padre, Manuel Román among others and several recordings. He has participated with the Symphony Orchestra of PR, a Symphony Orchestra in the Dominican Republic, The Quique Talavera Orchestra in the Chucho Avellanet Show accompanying other singers such as Ismael Miranda, Braulio, Tito Rojas among others, The Pijuán Orchestra, where besides the Sextet, he also accompanied Danny Rivera and Wilkins. Mike also had the joy of dedicating a piece with his guitar to his favorite artist Jose Feliciano when he came to celebrate his 50th artistic anniversary in Puerto Rico. With his guitar he has participated in International Jazz Concerts and Festivals (PR, NY, Chicago, Curacao, among others) and has also performed in Germany.
Mike is also a musician/pastor of the Breñas Community Church (BCC) IDDPM.I. in Vega Alta for 15 years and Chaplain of the Police of PR. He is also a Music Teacher in his academy “Mike Arroyo Music” in his hometown of Vega Baja and is a Biomedical Engineer in Clinical Laboratories and Hospitals.
“Mike Arroyo 40/20 El Concierto” was dedicated to his graduating class of Lino Padrón Rivera High School of Vega Baja 1983 and to his “Padrino Musical” Nelson González.
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