ORIENTE creates a musical statement which is totally different from what's
been previously coined "the Miami Sound". This original-music group
is known for its raw and spicy yet very sophisticated sound, blending
authentic Afro-Cuban, Latin and tropical rhythms and styles with
melodies & flavors of World Jazz, Delta Blues, Caribbean, Brazilian,
Folk, Funk, Celtic & more, creating an exotic musical fusion.
Respected Latin and World Music journalist/critic,
David Cazares, wrote of ORIENTE: "In an era where too much of modern Latin music is repetitive and ordinary, or sugarized expressions of puppy love played with a salsa beat, it's heartwarming to listen to a band whose sound is serious, but lively."
ORIENTE's self-titled, 1997 debut CD featured heavy elements of Cuban Son
and Guaguanco long before the popular Buena Vista Social Club was discovered
and released and before the most recent Cuban music explosion rocked the world.
In 1994, when many in Balzola's hometown of Miami were unwilling to depart
from the generic "Salsa" peddled on most local radio, ORIENTE's melodic yet
percussive, clave-driven arrangements with infusions of guitar and violin found
savvy audiences in the music capital of the South, at New Orleans famed
Snug Harbor Jazz Club as well as concerts at Tulane & Loyola Universities.
The group also gained support from popular New Orlean's World Music
harpist, Patrice Fisher, along with well-known Cuban percussionist,
Hector Gallardo and WTUL D.J., Daniel Stein. Local audiences were
thrilled with ORIENTE's fresh approach and spicy Cuban flavor.
Some of the planet's finest players join forces with Balzola's
lyrical acoustic and electric guitar melodies on ORIENTE's
live performances as well as on their CDs.