Electric violinist Susie Hansen is an exhilarating artist in Latin Jazz. Hansen and her talented musicians have created an invigorating and appealing sound that brings audiences to their feet, dancing in the aisles. With her powerful electric violin in the forefront and an accompanying crew of some of Los Angeles' finest Latin musicians, Hansen's approach to Latin Jazz and Salsa is captivating.
Susie Hansen is a long time favorite in Los Angeles, where she has led her band since 1990. Recently she was featured as a soloist with Orquesta Los Van Van, Cuba's premier dance orchestra, both in Los Angeles on their 1997 debut U.S. concert tour, as well as in Havana, Cuba, for the opening night of Carnaval in February 1997.
The Chicago native has developed her own unique and exciting style by drawing on various forms of jazz and Latin music. She has combined her own interpretation of traditional Cuban charanga, a predecessor of Salsa, which features both violin and flute, along with the ever-potent fire of Afro-Cuban rhythms and the compelling harmonies of straight-ahead jazz. Her all-star band features Ruben Esteva on lead vocals, Joe Rotondi on keyboards, Tiki Pasillas on drums and Joe DeLeon on Congas.
Hansen has been heard at the Playboy Jazz Festival, Fiesta Broadway, Fresno Latin Jazz Fest, Newport Beach Jazz Fest, and various community concerts throughout Southern California. She plays regularly at such clubs as the Baked Potato, La Bamba, the Jazz Bakery and the Whittier Hilton Hotel. She has appeared as a guest artist with Tito Puente, Orquesta Aragon, Giovani Hidalgo, Paquito d'Rivera, Orquesta Broadway, Rachel Z, El Gran Combo, and Sonora Ponceña.
Susie Hansen is a recording artist on Jazz Caliente Records. Her album "Solo Flight" is available on CD and cassette. Susie's music can be heard on radio throughout Southern California and nationwide. She is currently working on a second recording. Susie plays the electric 5-string Zeta violin.
Joe Rotondi--Joe Rotondi is the pianist in the Susie Hansen Band, and was one of Susie's strongest influences in her Latin music development when they first performed regularly together in early 1989 as members of Candi Sosa's band. He began studying piano with his father, Joe Rotondi, Sr., and continued his musical studies at Los Angeles Community College. He joined Susie's band in early 1996. Joe has performed with many Latin Jazz greats in his musical career, including Herb Alpert, Vikki Carr, Linda Ronstadt, Arturo Sandoval, Alex Acuna, Justo Almario, the Estrada Brothers, Rudy Regalado and Chevere, Bongo Logic, John Pisano and Candi Sosa. Joe has recently recorded a new Latin Jazz CD with Herb Alpert, and is featured on the current Milestone release of the Estrada Brothers. He was the regular pianist in Marcos Loya's band on the Paul Rodriguez TV show, and played on the "Dirty Dancing" and "Mambo Kings" soundtracks.
Ricardo "Tiki" Pasillas--Tiki Pasillas is a drummer and multi-percussionist who joined the Susie Hansen band in the 1990, and after leaving for two years to play with the band Son Mayor, returned as drummer/timbalero for Susie in 1994. He plays with Susie's band whenever he is not on the road with acclaimed Salsa sensation, Mark Anthony. As a teenager in Oakland, California, Tiki won a Berkelee College of Music scholarship, and later he received the Latin Stylist Award at Musician's Institute in Los Angeles. He has performed or recorded with many jazz and Salsa greats, including Alex Acuna, Tito Nieves, Sheila E, Kenny Kirkland, Hiroshima, Peter Erskine, Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Horace Silver, Cachao, Giovanni Hidalgo, Juan Pablo Torres, Poncho Sanches, Nestor Torres, Paquito D'Rivera, and Kazu & Keiko Matsui. Tiki teaches at Musician's Institute in Hollywood, and does regular studio work in jingles, records, and films.
Joey De Leon, Jr.--Percussionist Joey De Leon, Jr., born in New York City of Puerto Rican heritage, joined the Susie Hansen Band in 1995. He was introduced to music at the age of 3 by his father who is also a percussionist, but did not begin serious training until the age of 15. He graduated from the Manhattan School of Music, where he received a B.M. in classical percussion. Upon graduation in May of 1990, he received the George Shick Award for outstanding musicianship. He then returned to his musical roots, continuing further studies of Afro-Cuban folkloric music.
Joey has performed with a variety of artists, including Dave Valentin, Tito Puente, Sheila E., Orquesta Broadway, Roland Vazquez, Francisco Aguabella, Tupac Shakur, Giovanni Hidalgo, Jose Luis "Changuito" Quintana, Raphael, Luis Conte, Rudy Regalado, Marcos Loya, the Estrada Brothers, Jose Mangual, Jr., and Vicki Sue Robinson. He may be seen performing in the highly acclaimed T.V. show "The First Commandment" on HBO.
Rene Camacho--Rene Camacho, the bass play in the Susie Hansen Band, moved to Los Angeles in 1997 from Tucson Arizona, and immediately earned a strong reputation as a talented bassist and a versatile musician not only in Latin music but in all jazz and pop styles. In 1992, Rene earned his Bachelor's of Music in Jazz Studies and Composition from the University of Arizona. He has many production and arranging credits, and has performed for musical theater and television. He has worked with many of outstanding national acts and local artists, including The Pointer Sisters, Celia Cruz, Dizzy Gillespie, Francisco Aguabella, Poncho Sanchez, Luis Conte, Buddy Collette, Bobby Matos, Conte Condoli, Bob Mintzer, Warren Vache, Lew Tabacken, Marylin McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr., Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Sepulveda, the Tucson Latin Jazz Orchestra and the Tucson Symphony.
George Balmaseda--Vocalist with Susie on and off for many years, George Balmaseda has played with Tito Puente, Poncho Sanchez, La Palabra, Johnny Polanco and many more. Born in CUba, George is an accomplished "sonero," the singer who improvises the vocal responses to the repeated chorus, the "coro," sung by the backup singers.
Ruben Esteva--One of the band's lead singers, Ruben Esteva joined Susie's group in May of 1999. He was born in Puerto Rico, and began his career in Los Angeles singing with Latin Fusion, one the top Salsa bands in LA. He has written music for the band as well.
David Stout, trombonist, composer and arranger, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He received his B.A. in music from Eastman School of Music where he studied trombone with Emory Remington. A member of the Susie Hansen Band since 1992, David is the primary arranger for the band. Just this past season, his third piece for trombone and orchestra was premiered by the Los Angeles Solo Repertory Orchestra. In addition to being busy as an arranger and composer, he has recorded jingles, soundtracks and albums with Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Jose Jose, Juan Gabriel and Linda Ronstadt. In addition to playing trombone on Susie's first CD, David Stout is co-producer of "Solo Flight". He and Susie co-authored three compositions on the CD, plus he wrote three of his own songs and arranged seven selections.
Steve Marsh joined the Susie Hansen Band in 1998, and has been playing great sax and flute solos at the Whittier Hilton for the past two summers. He has played with many well known artists in Los Angeles since moving here from New Mexico, including Lyle Lovett and Brian Setzer. Although his specialty has been jazz and pop music, he has an natural feel for Latin rhythms and style, and he has a particularly impressive ability on the Charanga flute, a difficult and challenging instrument to play in Latin music. There will be more information about his background soon.