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Benitez and Nebula Nightlife / Essence Of Life
  • Nightlife / Essence Of Life  (cd)-1
    CD VAMPI CD 075
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Eddie Benitez's story is full of contrasts: a classical trained child prodigy turned Latin Rock superstar while hanging out in his teen years with the likes of Charlie Palmieri (his guardian angel, as he still names him), Louie Ramirez, Tito Puente and pretty much all the crew from the Fania All-Stars... and making a name for himself while at it. His debut album on Fania, “Night Life," brought him to the spotlight in 1976, earning his band Nebula rave reviews and the props of many of his peers, including names like George Benson, Al DiMeola and Carlos Santana. He also has the distinction of being the first Latino act ever to be featured at the mythical CBGB's. His career, not to mention his life, was screech halted twice, first with cancer and most recently this past November when a massive heart attack almost swept him from us. But here he is back,on his own, back with his band Nebula and, sooner than you may expect, back with a brand new project.

1973 marks the year when the first incarnation of Eddie’s band, Benitez & Nebula, comes to surface. At 13 years old back then, Eddie’s first band consisted of Gregory Hernandez on congas, Louis Castro on timbales, Jimmy Cruz on drums and vocals, Bob Farian on keyboards and Victor Rodriguez on bass and lead vocals.

With a few additions to the band’s original core, most significantly the presence of the late Nancy O’Neill on lead vocals and, for studio purposes, the then up-and-coming Ruben Blades on background vocals and the virtuoso team of Nicky Marrero (a key member of the Fania All-Stars and one of the most influential percussionists of all times) and the late Frankie Malabe (a revered conga stylist and innovator as well as a stalwart of the essential Alegre All-Stars in the 60’s and early 70’s), Benitez & Nebula record their debut album “Night Life” in 1976. Produced by late studio wizard Louie Ramirez, one of Latin music’s most creative and complete gentlemen, this June ‘76 release left an impressive mark, especially on the West Coast’s Latin rock circuit, where Nebula claims their slice of the cake in a market headed by the likes of Carlos Santana himself.

Between “Night Life” and Nebula’s second release, “Essence of Life” lays a three-year hiatus, yet the band never stopped touring and playing the rock circuits. By the time “Essence of Life” is recorded, Nebula had already undergone a critical lineup change. Because of disciplinary problems, the original band was dismissed, only remaining Greg Hernandez and Nancy O’Neill from the original band. The remaining band would now consist of keyboard/trombone player Johnny Caro, Nancy’s brother Dino Cedeno on vocals, drummer Joe DiCarlo, Tommy Hebb on bass, Jose Morales on timbales and additional keyboard player Larry Dvoskin. Former band member Jimmy Cruz doubles on background vocals for this album as well.

Currently, Eddie Benitez is closely associated with George Benson’s productions and is currently, by the time these lines are written, pre-producing an upcoming new project to be released soon with projected guest performances by pop icon Prince and Benson.

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