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Orquestra Nova Sound brings Latin beat to Covington

Orquestra Nova Sound brings Latin beat to Covington

Jorge Alvarez, sixth from the left, will lead Orquestra Nova Sound in a concert on the Square in Covington on July 11. (Special Photo)

Jorge Alvarez, sixth from the left, will lead Orquestra Nova Sound in a concert on the Square in Covington on July 11. (Special Photo)

Jorge Alvarez doesn’t remember it, but evidently, he’s been infatuated with music since he was a baby.

“I’ve always loved music, from Day 1,” Alvarez, who leads Orquestra Nova Sound, said. “According to my parents, I loved records — records were my toys. Obviously I don’t remember this, but my parents told me I knew all the songs they played.”

Alvarez and his band will visit the downtown Square in Covington at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 11, as part of the summer concert series hosted by the Arts Association in Newton County and Main Street Covington. The veteran group will perform in a host of Latin-tinged styles, including jazz, salsa, merengue and rumba — in other words, don’t expect to stay seated for very long.

“People who come can do two things,” said Alvarez, who plays keyboards, bass and sings with the group, which prominently showcases percussion and horn instruments. “They can bring a picnic basket and a blanket and have a seat, and then, if you feel like moving, just stand up and start dancing.

“We play happy music, the up-tempo stuff. We might do a couple of slow songs, but we’ll see. We’ll test the crowd and figure out what they want to hear. We always play it by ear.”

Alvarez began performing with a small group in the early 1980s but through the years has expanded both the personnel and the sound of Orquestra Nova Sound.

“I had a small group that played weddings and private events,” Alvarez, who lives in Cherokee County, said. “And people were always telling me I needed to get a larger band, so around 1994 or 1995, I put a bigger band together and about half of those guys are still with me today. We’ve been together a long time and these guys can play every rhythm you can think of. And the horns sound great.”

Although the group numbers as many as 15 for some engagements, Alvarez — who is also a prolific composer, arranger and recording studio engineer — said he’ll bring a 12-piece Orquestra Nova Sound to the Square, where he said he’s performed many times.

The band’s set list is mixed between original compositions and traditional favorites, and Alvarez says he’s got a host of influences to call upon.

“My background is in classical and jazz,” he said. “So I like to listen to and play a little bit of everything — every different genre. And as you get more mature about music, you develop your own kind of thing.”

For more information, visit www.newtoncountyarts.org or call 770-786-8188.

Chris Starrs is a freelance writer based in Athens. To contact him, email cstarrs90@charter.net.