REINVENTING CALLE OCHO
A new generation of Latino artists transforms Miami’s longest-running block party
By Jose Davila, Miami New Times
It feels like any other morning at Calle Ocho’s world-famous Domino Park. Groups of elderly guayabera-clad Cuban men play dominoes amid the usual exile chatter and cigar smoke. But only a few feet away, a small crowd of city officials and camera crews breaks the monotony as the men witness a press conference for the kickoff of this year’s Calle Ocho Festival.
Tradition calls for a new king of Carnaval Miami to be announced. This year stepping up to the podium to accept the title is Miami’s resident jazz legend Arturo Sandoval, a man who once played under the tutelage of the late Dizzy Gillespie and who recently shared the stage with Alicia Keys. And though Sandoval’s honors include a series of Grammys, the boyish fiftysomething looks genuinely moved by the occasion. "For me it’s truly amazing that at this point in my life I’m still being recognized with such an important honor, and I certainly look forward to seeing all my Latin people there," says a smiling Sandoval.
But while tradition continues, a new generation of young Latinos has steadily and not-so-quietly been changing the musical flavor at Calle Ocho, where the once ubiquitous tropical sounds of salsa and merengue are slowly giving way to the now in-demand riddims of reggaeton and Latin hip-hop.
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