Armando Peralta Bio
When singer/songwriter Armando Peralta released his first album Este Fuego (This Fire) in 1996—working with a white hot and stellar assembly of musicians out of the pop, Latin and Jazz worlds—Quincy Jones called Armando's song "Maria" a masterpiece. Bruce Swedien—Grammy-winning producer for Quincy Jones and most recently Jennifer Lopez—was so impressed with Armando's album that the two became close friends in 1999. Swedien is very keen to work with Armando's future album projects. He came very close to producing Armando's new album "Silence"—due out September, 2006, but the timing didn't gel.
Armando Peralta was 30 years old when Este Fuego hit the charts in Puerto Rico and other Latin-style markets. It took five years to compose, arrange and pre-produce in San Juan, Puerto Rico-Armando's home at that time for eleven years. Armando was good friends with the sizzling drummer Omar Hakim—they hung out at Armando's rain forest home exchanging stories and riffs. Hakim appeared as a driving force for the uniquely-crafted rhythms on the album. Giovanni Hidalgo, the number one conga player in the world, joined in as friend and performer. Steve Porcaro from Toto—one of Armando's favorites bands as a singer/guitarist in high school rock bands—played on the cd.
***Armando: who else played on Este Fuego that would be good to list?
Jump to fall, 2005, in a recording studio in Manhattan, one of two that Armando owns under his label: WorldPulse Music. Armando is remixing the tracks from his first album and adding in new compositions to create a full compliment of twelve tracks. He is releasing the new production under the title, "Volver a Sentir," meaning "to feel again." Armando defines it as an album that speaks to a healing process of learning to deeply feel, both as individuals and as communities. He is back with all his old friends and musician demigods from the first incarnation of the sound that generated a wave of critical acclaim and fans in the pop and Latin crossover markets.
"To me," Armando—who is articulate in five languages—says in an interview, "the Este Fuego album created a new genre of music. As with many pop, Latin and Jazz musicians, Flamenco was a major influence on me. I studied it while I was a student at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood. And I was immersed in it with my musician friends. I was living and playing right in the most cutting edge music of Puerto Rico for a decade. So I wedded together the "Rumba Flamenco" sound with the "Bomba" Puerto Rican sound. It was fresh and rich and created this amazing mix of rhythms. Listeners loved it, and loved the melodic romance and soul I put into the songs with my voice."
It was a breakout, polyrhythmic sound. Nobody had conceived of this hybrid before. A year later Ricky Martin came out with a similar sound on his La Vita Loca album. Ricky Martin's manager was asked on a Puerto Rican radio show if Ricky had come up with the new hybrid sound, which was enormously popular, and Ricky's manager said, "No, it wasn't Ricky. It was Armando Peralta."
"This new remixing and adding more songs really captures my passion and soul fire so to speak," he says. "It was a fire consuming me—to bring messages of deep love and spiritual connection," says Armando, now 39. He is also producing a small stable of new gifted artists for the WorldPulse label. In his other entrepreneurial pursuits, Armando is a successful consultant in hotel real estate deals.
Sonny Fortune, the stratospheric saxophonist, who is playing on Armando's "Silence" album, pays homage to Armando's skills: "Everyone asks me to make the magic in their music. But your music has the magic."
"For 'Volver a Sentir' I'm bringing in all the original talent from the first recording plus several more greats. And they're joining me as my group for live performances next spring. I've been incredibly fortunate to have been brought into this amazing circle of cross-cultural virtuosos since I was in my early twenties as a runner for Puerto Rico's top concert producer. We socialize together, have philanthropic interests together, and drive down this incredible road of cutting edge music together."
Armando is releasing "Volver a Sentir" in early 2006 under his own label, and is already booked with his group into several Manhattan hot spots for the spring and early summer season. Like his fusion of pop, Latin and jazz music, Armando carries a remarkable heritage that blends his father's Argentine (grandfather was from Spain) blood and his mother's aristocratic Russian blood from the Carpathian mountain region of Russia. "There is a Russian prince somewhere in my family tree, "Armando comments. "And I know all the Russian princes who are established in the US, and we're working together on several philanthropic projects for orphans."
But the most pronounced, and famous, musical heritage in Armando's background comes out of the coal-mining mountains of Pennsylvania. "My favorite uncle was always very supportive of my music interest. He told me we had a very well known songwriter in our family—a cousin. He actually worked in the coalmines in Broad Top, Pennsylvania, where my mom and all my uncles where raised," recalls Armando. The cousin's name was Vaughn Horton, country western legend out of Broad Top—elected to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1971. Horton died in 1988, after a long and lauded career of writing country western and popular song hits, recording with his brother Roy, and producing records for RCA, Columbia and Decca. Armando comments, "I wished I would have met him actually. As far as his songs, I feel a lot of the same energy and depth and romanticism in his musical concepts as mine."
Armando's heritage has given him the smoldering Mediterranean, dark longish hair and gentle cherubic looks that appeal across many audiences. "People often ask me if I am actually as kind as I look," he says with some modesty, as he recognizes that looks are helpful in the entertainment world, but are third to talent and hard work. "Well, actually I am a kind person. Or always try to be." For performing, Armando is reaching back to the style of his Argentinian roots ("My father was raised there with the Spanish bandoleer legends."), Flamenco inspiration and the Russian style of stitched embellishment. The result is Flamenco-style black pants with silver embellishment over Flamenco boots, long and short black jackets over white billowy shirts. "It's a neo-classical style, and it speaks to my reaching to an audience where a man and woman share a deep, feeling love. I want my music to rekindle the romantic heart in listeners."
Armando feels he reaches an international audience who appreciates singers who personally know the realities of love, are intelligent and articulate, and are also very caring. "A lot of really bright artists, who are intellectually aware, have told me I have this gift for creating a caring mood in women. It's also because I care about them through my music."
Relaxing at his mixing console, Armando is putting some finishing touches on a pre-production track for his entirely new, and he hopes groundbreaking, album "Silence." "I moved to Manhattan in 1999 and met a wonderful girl, fell in love and spent a year and a half with her. She moved on after a period of psychological difficulty. I reached out to her with self-sacrificing love and care over a long period of time—really trying to help her. I still love her deeply. I put all of my pathos over this time into a new collection of songs for "Silence" that blend my Russian and Latin roots." The result is a spine-tingling, candle-moody and danceable collection that sometimes features string arrangements out of the beautiful polyphonic traditions of Russia underneath Latin and pop music structures and rhythms. "I express the deep melancholy romantic sadness the great Russian composers felt. I feel in some way I can bring that out in my own way through this music."
Joining Armando on the "Silence" recording is another constellation of hot luminaries: Steve Luthaker, guitarist from Toto; Toto keyboardist Steve Porcrao; Spanish-style virtuoso guitarist Paco De Lucia; Gorje Pardo, Flamenco flute player; Café deSilva (worked with Sergio Mendes and Steve Winwood); bass player Fernando Saunders (formerly with John McLaughlin's jazz fusion groups, now with Lou Reed); Will Lee, David Letterman Show bassist; Omar Hakim and Giovanni Hidalgo on percussion; Rick Wakeman, keyboardist from Yes.
***Armando, is there anybody I missed here?
"'Silence' is coming out in September, 2006, and we'll be playing as a concert band in 2007. It should be phenomenal," says Armando. He sees "Silence" as being very international—all tracks sung in English—with special language editions for foreign market countries.
Armando is also bringing five new singing talents into production under his label WorldPulse Artists. "Basically, what I am doing is helping some really wonderful people that I've met along the way and giving them a boost to audiences that should really enjoy their talent and qualities. I am currently developing relationships with various distributors." Among Armando's artists is Sibira, a Russian singer with very dance-oriented pop music; Candice Pell, a rock crossing-over—into Americana singer; John Weston, with the honest song-writing skills of a young Bob Dylan in an Americana/rock genre; Israeli singer Sharoni, a power pop artist-like Italian rock; Krina Miquelin, a former top model from Brazil with an amazing deep soul for writing and a stunning voice—combining bossa nova and pop wth electronica; Demitri Razinsky, Estonian top pianist with a voice like Josh Grobin; Erena—Italian—sings like Jewel and writes for the Latin market with production values similar to Cold Play.
Outside of music, Armando's most philosophic interest is his philanthropic projects to help the orphans of Russia. "I am working with various Russian relief agencies, a UN connection, two archbishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, and several of the Russian aristocracy living in the US to raise funds for Russian orphans. I am establishing a record label specifically to raise money for these orphans." Armando also has a cherished long-range plan to build a community in upper state New York for retired Russian Orthodox priests (married) who would adopt Russian orphans and raise them in the US. He is also the custodian and agent for Russian composer Rachmaninoff's piano. Armando has permission to use the piano for benefit concerts to raise funds for orphan programs.