Eddie and his story
Latin talent has expanded all over the world to the point that there is a significant presence of these groups in Hawaii. Today we have talked to Eddie Ortiz, one of its leaders, who tells us his interesting story.
Eddie Ortiz, a New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent, began his journey through music when still a child, which led him to become the musical director of one of the main Latin orchestras in Honolulu.
The following are the most salient aspects of his life and musical career.
The Armed Forces and moving to Hawaii
Eddie’s first contact with music was in school, when he began taking trumpet lessons for a few years until he moved with his family to Tampa, Florida, where his life would change radically.
While there, he joined the Navy and served for more than 20 years, time in which the artist took the opportunity to join the Marine band and hone his skills as a musician.
It was in those years he served as a trumpet player and played for several military bands being in the armed forces.
During his military career, he was forced to visit many countries and Hawaii was his last stop. About three years before retiring, he decided to create Eddie Ortiz & Son Caribe, a group he still plays with today.
As for Hawaii, he liked the place, the weather and the people so much that he did not want to return to the United States. That was over 27 years in total. He still thinks it was the best decision he could have made personally and professionally.
Eddie Ortiz & Son Caribe
Something very interesting about Eddie Ortiz & Son Caribe is that they play Latin music, but most of the members are not Latino. The group has people from Japan, China, Portugal and Hawaii. In fact, some of them were with Eddie in the navy and, today, support him in this great project.
A very particular case is that of Cynthia Romero, the band’s vocalist, who was born in Manila, Philippines, and speaks six languages, but Spanish is not one of them. However, she is perfectly capable of singing in that language without any problem, since she practices a lot the songs at the phonic level to avoid mistakes.
Whenever there are original songs, Cynthia usually asks Eddie what a song is about and he explains it to her in detail so she can perform it and live out it properly. She also takes the trouble to translate all the content and learn it to avoid any failure in the studio or on stage.
In the case of the genres, a different level of preparation for each one is always required, so Eddie and Cynthia always rehearse alone at first, while the musicians prepare themselves separately. It is then that they all join together to see how the band sounds as a whole.
Learning from other artists on stage
The members of Eddie Ortiz & Son Caribe have had the opportunity to share the stage with Ismael Miranda, Celia Cruz, Johnny Polanco, Tito Puente Jr, Luisito Rosario, and many more. When asked what he and his musicians have learned from these great artists, Eddie replied that the opportunity to accompany these personalities and open their shows have been a blessing and an immense honor.
”Each one of these artists has a very unique style and, whenever we accompany one of them, there are always new things to learn in order to be able to interpret those styles in the future. All of these things that we see in others are incorporated into our own music as we see fit” said Eddie.
The media’s role in his career
With respect to the media, Eddie Ortiz & Son Caribe has had a presence in various magazines and channels such as Honolulu Magazine, KS TV, 88 Tee, University of Hawaii Sports Television, among others.
Eddie said they did not expect this media exposure, but it has been very well received. They have been asked to make music for one or two radio stations or channels, which has given them the opportunity to demonstrate their talent and be known among a wider audience.
The best thing is that this gave them the opportunity to explore other genres, as the aforementioned media have asked for pop, traditional Hawaiian music and other genres requested at that time.
Original music and covers
Eddie also told us that his band usually performs live on various entertainment places about four times a week, so they should try to have a repertoire as different as possible every night so as not to bore the audience.
Regarding covers, there are always certain songs that people usually ask for, so the band always takes them into account to satisfy those attending.
They also try to make a balance of all the genres they play such as salsa, bachata, merengue, cha cha chá, cumbia, Latin pop and many more.
Although the band’s strength is in Hawaii, their audience is not centred on the island and they have also managed to tour Asian countries such as Japan, Korea and the Philippines. In those places, the reception of the public towards Eddie Ortiz & Son Caribe has been phenomenal because there are many lovers of Latin music and culture in general there.
Because of this, these countries usually have relatively large salsa events and festivals where they always take this band and other groups of this kind into account. Of course, they are also supported by dancers and DJs in order to liven up the atmosphere even more.
Eddie remembers attending an event called ”Isla De Salsa”, which featured El Gran Combo De Puerto Rico, Juan Luis Guerra, Havana De Cuba and many others. This shows how much Latin music is valued in those places and the large number of followers it gathered.
To end the conversation, Eddie pointed out that they have a large audience in Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico, so they also have plans and are making the appropriate arrangements to go there soon and meet their fans. They will also perform an anniversary concert to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the orchestra and will have Luisito Rosario as a guest.