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Eddy Zervigon

Eddy Zervigon arrived in the United States from Cuba in 1962. That year he performed with Lou Perez's band and subbed for Pacheco when Johnny had to have a throat operation, and founded the charanga band, Orquesta Broadway. A charanga band is a Latin band that consists of flute, violin, bass, piano, timbale, guiro player/singer, and of course the lead vocalist. It was around this same year that I began to build bongos and sell them on consignment to a store on 48th Street in New York City by the name of Frank Wolf's Drummer's Supplies.

This was the beginning of the pachanga dance craze and bongos weren't used for this music and I would have to develop other items to build my future business with. Nonetheless, I was hooked on this music. There was something extraordinary about hearing a great charanga band. As Eddy explained, when the band was really cooking, it had a relaxed swing going on. With the relaxed swing, Orquesta Broadway was able to move the dancer like no other band. While I was not a dancer, I followed them around from one venue to the next.

At age 15, Eddy's parents gave him 200 Cuban pesos for his birthday. Eddy had a brief passion for gambling at pool and he lost 185 of the 200 on the game. With the remaining, 15 pesos, he bought a flute. Thus Eddy's career began as a musician and, he assured me, he never gambled again.

Eddy remembers seeing two guys enthusiastically applaud his performance at The Paladium ballroom in New York City. They introduced themselves and returned to their next performance at Club Cubano Interamericano. There, Ira Hersher, the younger of the two, sat in with the band. Eddy loved the way Ira played.David Hersher was also a piano player so Eddy sent him to a music teacher to learn the bass. Within 4 months David was playing the instrument. It has always fascinated me that Jewish guys like these and Barry Rogers could play this special music with such authenticity. One reason might be that the Hersher boys were involved with the running of the Raleigh Hotel in the Catskill Mountains, less than two hours away from Manhattan. Some of the best of Latin bands have appeared at the hotels in the Catskills including Orquesta Aragon from Cuba, who appeared there in 1959. Eddy said it was also Ira's sitting in with The La Playa Sextet that helped shape his playing in the direction of Latin music. Ira has since moved to New Zealand and now calls himself Hershal. David is pursuing other talents. He had worked in the management area of the recording business and he is now the manager of the Raleigh Hotel in the Catskill Mountains.

Matthew, myself, Eddy, Karl and Raul pose for the camera as Matthew and Raul practice winking.

Africans have always been fond of the slow son montunos of the typical donzon of Cuban music. Orquesta Broadway went to Africa three times. The first time they went to Abidjan on the Ivory Coast. There they played for the President's daughter's wedding. The second time they went to Monrovia. The third time they went to Senegal. They also performed for this same audience in Paris.

Eddy plays a French-made, wooden flute with 5 or 6 keys which hasn't been manufactured for over 100 years. He is secretive about his collection of old flutes. Being protective of this rare tool of his trade, is quite understandable.

During the years of Broadway's greatest popularity, the band was working 16 gigs a week. Eddy found that carrying the band alone with his flute was too demanding. He then hired trumpet player, Roberto Rodriguez. The charanga band is no longer as popular as it once was, possibly because it is expensive to get a record played on the air and none of the major labels specializing in Afro-Carribean music (I have a difficult time using "Salsa Music") have a charanga band as part of its roster. In addition, small labels won't take on the challenge of producing a recording of this great of band since there is little or no chance of getting air play. An older crowd attends the dances where Broadway plays. These fans remember the time when many Latin bands played at this high level. Broadway always swept dancers off their feet and influenced music lovers from all walks of life. I hope I see the revival of this great music.




Eddy Zervigon, Raul Rekow and Karl Perazzo with the Santana Band.

Eddy Zervigon at New York City's La Magannete. May 5, 1999.

Rolando Ramos expressed to me how much he loves his LP® Galaxy fiberglass congas for their beautiful tone and the fact that they are the loudest and strongest congas ever made. Rolando is a great conga drummer with an incredible tone. He has the slap that only a handful of players have. It was a joy to hear him play.

Mike Amitin has played bass with Orqesta Broadway since David Hersher left the band. He is one of those rhythm players working in Latin music that comes from outside the culture. Eddy Zervigon says he has a very special touch in his playing.