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Alfonso "El Panameno" Joseph was born in the Republic of Panama, and immigrated to New York at 11 years of age, where he studied music and became one of the forefront bassists of Cuban legend Arsenio Rodríguez. Joseph is a featured guest in a major television production about the era of Afro-Cuban music at The Palladium in New York La Epoca.
Joseph's musical career began in the mid-1950s, learning and playing guitar with many Puerto Rican groups, "conjuntos", and playing diverse rhythmic variations of Puerto Rican music. He replaced the guitar strings with electronic strings and used the guitar as a bass, playing only the last four strings. With this convention, he became a bass player. Soon after, he graduated to Fender bass guitar and an Ampeg bass amplifier. Joseph was one of handful of bass players at that time, who introduced and popularized the bass guitar in the Latin, Jazz, Latin/Jazz and R&B venue.
Throughout the 1960s, Joseph performed at the Palladium and in the late Sixties and early Seventies, he performed at the Roseland Ballroom, two of New York City's most famous venues. During the same era, he also played bass at Birdland, a famous NYC club where all the jazz and Latin Jazz greats have performed.
As a bass player and vocalist, Joseph accompanied, recorded and performed with some of the most popular and prominent bandleaders and musicians during the heyday of Latin music and Latin Jazz. Historians and fans of this era as well as the older generation of Latinos, will remember most of these artists such as Arsenio Rodríguez, Candido, Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Machito, Johnny Pacheco, Yomo Toro, Cachao, Miguelito Valdez, Doc Cheetham, Alfredo "Chocolate" Armentero, Mauricio Smith, Richie Ray, Marcelino Guerra and many others.
Arsenio Rodríguez was a tres guitarist, a renowned master of Afro-Cuban music and in particular is regarded as the originator of a Latin style called the son montuno. Rodriguez personally taught Joseph the intricate techniques of Cuban bass rhythms and syncopation. Joseph performed with Arsenio at Carnegie Hall and recorded with Rodriguez on Ansonia Records Arsenio Rodríguez y Su Conjunto, (Vol.2) and Tico Records (Arsenio Dice... Arsenio Says).
Candido, the great Cuban Latin-Jazz percussionist, also personally coached and trained Joseph on Cuban bass rhythms and syncopation. Joseph recorded with Candido as vocalist, with Tito Puente conducting and playing vibes and timbales and he often substituted with Cachao on bass, (Tico Records, Candido's Latin McGuffas Dust).
After the death of his mentor, Arsenio Rodríguez, Joseph partially retreated from performing and relocated to the Litchfield Hills of northwestern Connecticut, dedicating most of his time to composing and orchestrating. In this undertaking, he conceived the vision of employing his knowledge, skills and technique as acquired from Latin and Classical music into one form. Joseph has since relocated to Richmond, Virginia and has been working with his son - film director, producer, and international instructor Josue Joseph on the international project called "La Epoca," which is about the Palladium-era in New York, and Afro-Cuban music and rhythms, Mambo and Salsa as dances and as music and much more.
- BAILA Society: Sophistication in Salsa. "Arsenio Rodriguez". Bailasociety.tv. Retrieved 2012-06-12.