We are honored to have been featured in the August 1, 2006 issue of Latin Beat
magazine in an article written by the master Bay Area music historian, Jesse "Chuy" Varela. Below is an excerpt from his
monthly Desde La Bahia article.
"ORQUESTA UNIVERSAL: It was a perfect day in mid-June for a visit to The Ramp, a small restaurant/bar with a large
patio, along the waterfront of San Francisco, that hosts salsa bands on Saturday afternoons. The sun was shining and the
temperature was hot, complimenting the sounds of Orquesta Universal, an excellent band led by Roger 'Danilo' Páiz.
The dance floor was packed upon our arrival and Danilo, who sat behind a combined timbal/trap set in front of the band, was
jamming on a danceable version of Manteca, the Dizzy Gillespie/Chano Pozo composition. As a percussionist, Páiz
is a first-call musician who has played with Dizzy Gillespie, Ruben Blades, Benny Velarde and many others. As a bandleader,
he has always led ensembles made up of high-caliber musicians assigned to perform his compositions and covers. This gig was
Set up on a small stage covered with vines and flowers, the group went into a suave 'salsa romantica' titled Necesito Un
Amor. Páiz (who is also a talented vocalist with a smooth tenor voice) delivered the lovelorn theme with clarity
and strength. On this occasion, however, he was joined by Olga Vinnik, a newcomer to the salsa scene from Latvia (a former
republic of the Soviet Union). She added harmonies and duet parts that gave the songs an added polish.
Sabrosa Cumbia threw the crowd into a spin with a Central American style cumbia. Danilo, who hails from Nicaragua,
understands the importance of playing for the people. He provides a varied menu that makes it hard to get bored given the
musical surprises he offers, with diverse beats and textures.
Amor Sin Control and Seduceme (which featured Olga on vocals), served to conclude the first set. The band was
hot and consisted of Alex Ocon (bongo), Carlos Araiza (congas), Jamie Duberry (trombone), Chris Marquis (trumpet), Rolf
Johnson (piano), Carlitos Ramirez (bass) and Edgar Aguilar (coro).
Boats sailed by and ships docked on the bay, casting shadows on the water, as cool breezes and drinks kept the vibe happy
and friendly. The DJ sounds provided by Arturo Diamond, a veteran salsero from NYC, kept the floor spinning.
The second set included several Danilo originals, from his albums Vivencias: www.CDBaby.com/Paiz and Avanzando: www.CDBaby.com/Paiz2. These songs have evolved in arrangement since he recorded them
in the 1990s for Trinica Records. Philadelphia Mambo was a favorite for me because it gave space to the
percussionists solos. Carlos Araiza is a seasoned musician who leads his own band (The Mambo Cats), a rumbero who wailed
with authority and confidence on congas. Alex Ocon also delivered a blistering bongo solo on the tune. Nevertheless, it was
Páiz who brought it home with a timbal tour-de-force that elicited a rousing response from the crowd.
As the group went into La Vida Es Un Carnaval, the crowd was in a tizzy, talking, laughing, and dancing in their
seats or in open spaces, sweating from the heat and the perpetual motion of the dance. Danilo Páiz delivered salsa
sobaqueada that left everybody smiling!"
--Hasta la proxima! firstname.lastname@example.org