The musical style of Alfonso Joseph (aka Alfonso El Panameno)is a unique and thus far an unclassified style; but it is simple enough to define. The music, instrumentation and genre are a combination of symphonic and Latin. The lyrics are Christian and biblically based themes. So, you can either decide for yourself or leave it to the industry pundits to categorize this musical style. Whatever you do, let it not fall away into the obscurity of 'other'. It is not deserving of such a fate. Latin Music Background So how did this unusual musical combination come about? The Latin influence comes from Alfonso's cultural roots. Alfonso was born in the Republic of Panamá, and is bilingual in English and Spanish. He migrated to America where he spent most of his life, and became an American citizen. His musical career began in the mid-nineteen fifties, learning and playing guitar with many Puerto Rican groups, 'conjuntos'. Thanks to the patience and support of the Puerto Rican community, Alfonso developed his skill on the guitar. He also acquired knowledge and experience in the diverse rhythmic variations of Puerto Rican music. At the suggestion of a friend, he replaced the guitar strings with electronic strings and used the guitar as a bass, playing only the last four strings. With this convention, he became a bass player. Soon after, a group of his Puerto Rican musician friends pitched in and bought him a Fender bass guitar and an Ampeg bass amplifier. Alfonso was one of handful of bass players at that time, who introduced and popularized the bass guitar in the Latin, Jazz, Latin/Jazz and R&B venue. In the sixties, Alfonso performed at the Palladium and in the late sixties and early seventies he performed at Roseland, two of New York City's most famous ballrooms and dance halls. In the late sixties/early seventies, he also played bass at Birdland, where all the Jazz and Latin-Jazz greats performed. As a bass player and vocalist, he accompanied, recorded and performed with some of the most popular and prominent bandleaders and musicians during the heyday of Latin music and Latin-Jazz. Historians and fans of this era as well as the older generation of Latinos, will remember most of these artists.... Arsenio Rodriguez, Candido, Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Machito, Johnny Pacheco, Yomo Toro, Cachao, Miguelito Valdez, Doc Cheetham, Alfredo 'Chocolate' Armentero, Mauricio Smith, Richie Ray and Marcelino Guerra to name a few. Arsenio Rodriguez was a tres guitarist and earned renown as a master of Afro-Cuban music and in particular is regarded by many as the originator of a Latin style called the 'son montuno'. Arsenio personally taught Alfonso the intricate techniques of Cuban bass rhythms and syncopation. Alfonso performed with Arsenio at Carnegie Hall and recorded with Arsenio on Ansonia Records ('Arsenio Rodriguez y Su Conjunto', Vol.2) and Tico Records ('Arsenio Dice... Arsenio Says'). Candido, the great Cuban Latin-Jazz percussionist, also personally coached and trained Alfonso on Cuban bass rhythms and syncopation. Alfonso recorded with Candido as vocalist, with Tito Puente conducting and playing vibes and timbales and Cachao on bass, (Tico Records, 'Candido's Latin McGuffas Dust'). Classical Music Background The symphonic influence comes from his education and experience. Alfonso has had more than 15 years of private and formal academic training on double bass, bass guitar, voice, harmony, theory, composition, orchestration and arranging. He attended Hartnett Music Studios and Lyn Oliver Studios in New York City, and studied double bass with private tutors as well as attending jazz workshops. He has performed with symphonies and chamber orchestras in New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut.... Center Symphony Orchestra, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and Connecticut Festival Orchestra, respectively, to name a few. After the death of his mentor, Arsenio Rodriguez, Alfonso partially retreated from performing and relocated to the Litchfield hills of northwestern Connecticut, dedicating most of his time to composing and orchestrating. In this undertaking, he conceived the vision of employing his knowledge, skills and technique as acquired from Latin and Classical music into one form. He spent hours, weeks and months which turned into years, diligently writing and rewriting orchestrations to produce many works, some of which are recorded on his first album, 'Divine Intervention'. Christian Music Background The Christian influence has more to do with who Alfonso is as apart from what he does. Like many of us who question and shed the religious upbringing imposed by our parents, so also did Alfonso as an adult. Disappointed with himself and his life, Alfonso turned away from his religious roots, and became an agnostic. That philosophy brought no positive change to his life, except to dull the sin consciousness. The loss of family, friends and jobs sent him on a sinful path to what appeared to be destruction. Only God knows when to intercede to rescue the desperate! Without fail and right on time, God sent believers into Alfonso's life who testified of the life changing power of Jesus Christ. Through the miraculous healing of a dying friend, Alfonso eventually experienced a spiritual awakening and recommitted himself to walk with the Lord and in His ways for the rest of his life. With this conversion, Alfonso dedicated his talents and time to composing music that brings forth the message of God's love and teachings. He also is an avid and perpetual student of the Bible and ministers the Word as the Lord leads. Footnote Alfonso is married and has a large family. Several of his children, Othoniel, Josue'-Caleb and Raquel-Maria, helped him perform the vocals to his debut album, 'Divine Intervention'. These works were composed more than thirty years ago when it was Alfonso's intention to sing them with the voice of his youth. Now his children are singing them with the voices of their youth. It is Alfonso's hope that you will be edified by his music and that the Lord will minister to you as you listen to it. God bless you! Your comments and questions are welcome. Please feel free to contact Alfonso at: Barabbas Publishing, LLC P.O. Box 1881 New Milford, CT 06776.