directly from La Isla De Margarita, Venezuela
The Venezuelan band ARENA is the hybrid configuration of Afro-Caribbean sounds, Iberian odours and Latin-American colours expressed trough six musicians with a shared passion for warm and contagious music styles such as Salsa, Flamenco, Cuban Son, Timba, Rumba Española and Latino-jazz.
The band was formed eight years ago by the inseparable duo of Leonardo Gil Beroes and Román Gerdel Esculpi; lead and second voices, rhythm and solo-guitarists and responsible for the songs. Although the musicians are from the mainland they settled at the beautiful Venezuelan "Isla de Margarita", situated in the south of the Caribbean close to Trinidad.
ARENA chooses to make a band which music would not fit in the easy category of salsa. They wanted to make music that embraces more influences and is very accessible for the untrained listener of tropical music. Within the band they unite the incredible solo- skills of guitar player Román, the authenticity of songwriter Leonardo, the contagious bass of Juan-Pablo and the percussive freshness and precision of Argentinean drummer Hugo Iozzolino and percussionists Harry and Bartolo.
In La Isla Margarita and the mainland of Venezuela they participated in big music festivals and shared stage with world-famous Oscar DLeon and Guaco. In 1995 they toured through The Netherlands and Belgium and recorded their first CD "Guayamurí". Now they are back in Europe and preparing a new CD and are engaging tours through Switzerland and Israel.
Leonardo "Leo" Gil Beroes: Born in Caracas, Venezuela on the 7th of January 1950. He studied singing and solfege at el Tecnologico de Música" in Valencia, Venezuela. He started in 1968 as Singer/writer" in the rock n roll group los Monjes", later with Grupo Latidos" in England in 1974, "Grupo Yarex" in 1984. Later he entered Venezuela Cuerda y Bongó" were he started to direct the band. In 1990 he formed his own group ARENA were he is lead-vocalist-guitar player and director.
Román Romy" Gerdel: Was born in Caracas, Venezuela on the 11th of December, 1965. He was a self-taught musician until he studied at the conservatory of Caracas for three years. He has a vast knowledge of composition and arranging and has played with various Rock and Roll bands and in the group Los Sandungueros" playing Venezuelan Gaita. In ARENA he plays lead/solo-guitar, handles the guitar- synthesizer which adds incredible possibilities to the groups sound, sings second voice and is musical-director from the start in 1990.
Harry "Estreining" Buckl: Born in Munich, Germany on the 19th of March 1953. He started to play percussion in the 70-ies, with jazz-rock groups in Germany; such as Oktagon". He went to Venezuela in 1980 in order to explore new musical horizons and to profound himself more in Latin and Afro-Caribbean rhythms, and stayed. He studied a.o. whith Orlando Poleo in Caracas and played with different latin-formations such as La Primera Clase" and folk-protest singer Lilia Vera". Playing with a Flamenco-group he comes to Isla Margarita in 1992 and joins later the group ARENA.
Hugo Iozzolino: Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina on the 14th of October of 1966. He studied primarily jazz-drumming and played in BigBands and for National Television. He comes to Europe through Spain and later moved up North to settle down in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. It is in Holland were he develops his skills in Latin-drumming with countless national and Local bands covering all styles such as salsa with Rumbatá and Cachito Vaz, and Brazilian with Lilian Vieira. He played extensively Latin music and toured through countries like Indonesia, Korea, Japan and the Caribbean. He recently replaced the former drummer of ARENA.
Bartolo "Simpson" Pype: Born in cosmopolitan Amsterdam, Holland on the 24th of August of 1970 joined the group recently to play percussion in all its aspects and to be ARENAs band-manager for Europe. Had his musical education in the jam-sessions and local-bands and specialized in latin-percussion living extensively in countries like Cuba, Spain and Venezuela. Toured through countries like Singapore, Israel, Surinam and Spain and is a freelance-musician in Amsterdam.
Juan-Pablo Chamo Candela" Penton: Born in Valencia, Venezuela on the 3rd of September 1978. At the age of 11 he started to study drums and switched later to electric bass. Right now he is studying electric-bass at the Alkmaar Conservatory in the Netherlands. Pablo is a routined rookie and played in various local bands both in Valencia as in Holland. Unless his very young age he is considered to be the perfect bridge between the melody of the guitars and the rhythm of the percussion He recently joined ARENA for Europe.
Copyright Klaus Reiter (email@example.com). Last update: 14.11.99.