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History of music by Enrique 'Bebito' Carbia

Enrique 'Bebito' Carbia and his brother Eddie Carbia of The Carbia Trio featuring Leo Rosa were pioneers in the latin music scene in New York, Miami and Puerto Rico in the 1950's and 1960's. Tocamos Mas is heavily influenced by this music and maintains a great respect for the sound of this era.

2014 Interview with Florida folk music historian Jim Robertson questioning Chuck Carbia about the music of Enrique 'Bebito' Carbia and the influence of his music on Tocamos Mas...

 

What is your father's history with playing music professionally?
My father, Enrique 'Bebito' Carbia was a lead singer and bass player in many accomplished latin jazz bands during the 50's and 60's in Miami, New York, Bermuda and Puerto Rico. His most accomplished group was The Carbia Trio with his brother, Eddie Carbia, who was on percussion and backing vocals, and Ken 'Leo' Rosa on piano. The Carbia brothers were self taught musicians that started playing as teenagers in small venues in San Juan, PR. They then moved to New York City where the were soon playing the top clubs and venues of that time. This lead to being contracted in venues like the Fountainbleu Hotel in Miami, FL and the Chateau Madrid in NYC.

Who are some known people he might have played with?
Enrique Carbia played music with all the great well known latin musicians of the era including Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Ray Barretto, Perez Prado, Joe Blanco and Charlie and Eddie Palmieri. For a short time Jose Feliciano was the guitar player for The Carbia Trio. For one year my Uncle Eddie toured as the percussionist for Noro Morales. The Carbia Brothers backed Tony Bennett for two shows in New York. They often played shows with guests in attendance such as Dezi Arnez, Harry Belafonte, Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra - which they strongly influenced with there unique style of vocal arrangements and latin jazz. While contracted at The Fountainbleu, the Carbia Trio were the house band during a week long birthday party for Sammy Davis Jr. The entire 'Rat Pack' was there and musicians like Dean Martin randomly took to the stage to sing a song throughout the week.

Are there any well known clubs or Latin music venues he might have played?
The Carbia Trio was contracted at many of the biggest venues of the 50's and 60's. They were contracted for many years at The Chateau-Madrid and the Almeda Room in NYC. In Miami, they were contracted at the famous 'Gi-Gi Room'  located in The Fountainbleu Hotel. The Carbia Brothers were contracted at the Hotel La Concha in San Juan, PR and they also opened their own club in San Juan called The Bongo Beat.

How has he and his experience influenced your music?
It's hard to explain how much he has influenced me as a musician. I actually have spent most of my life playing rock, pop, punk and country music - and until two years ago, I have never attempted to play the latin jazz music he played. But, since my first live performance in the third grade of 'Home on the Range', he has taught me the art of playing music for an audience - the importance of delivery, confidence, communicating with the band and knowing your song. Now that I am in a band playing the same music he played, he is our biggest influence and source for direction. We are trying to bring his specific New York/Miami 'hard salsa' style back to audiences. So we are constantly questioning him about song selections, rhythms and arrangements.

I was told there was some connection between your father and Carlos Santana.  Can you provide any information on that?
My father's band was contracted in NYC at the Chateau Madrid in the late 60's during the planning of the Woodstock Festival. Carlos Santana's band was playing at a venue down the road at that time and ocassionally my father and uncle would stop in to see them play. My father was approached to have his band play the Woodstock festival, but because of his contract, he had to decline the offer. But, he suggested they contact Carlos Santana for the show. Santana's performance at Woodstock was his breakout moment, which lead to the modern influence of latin music in rock n roll.