An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

News | Oct. 28, 2020

Rich Puerto Rican music heritage inspires DLA Aviation band mates

By Leon Moore DLA Aviation Public Affairs

Maurice “Tito” Sanabria’s eyes light up when he talks about what it’s like playing percussion and singing backup vocals as a member of Kadencia, the Richmond, Virginia based Afro-Puerto Rican group.

“I love seeing people dance to our music while learning about Puerto Rican music, traditions, culture, and history,” Sanabria said.

Sanabria, who is the chief of Defense Logistics Agency Aviation’s Command Support Directorate’s Command Programs Office, said Kadencia's music and sounds pay homage and follows the traditions of the Afro-Puerto Rican genres of Bomba and Plena.

“I love the energy that Bomba and Plena brings,” he said. 

Sanabria said Kadencia also utilizes Bomba and Plena's long-rooted storytelling traditions to vividly capture multiple aspects of the Puerto Rican experience on the U.S. territory and on the U.S. mainland.

The group was founded by Maurice Sanabria-Ortiz in Puerto Rico back in 2007. Sanabria-Ortiz also works at DLA Aviation, where he’s the branch chief for Supplier Operations Commodities Directorates’ Contract Administration’s Customer Support Branch.

“I started composing and singing for salsa bands while in the military stationed at installations both in Germany and Texas. After I got out of the military, I joined and recorded with a salsa band in Puerto Rico and started writing songs about some of the stories that my grandfather used to tell me when I was a kid,” Sanabria-Ortiz said. “They were stories about the time when he worked as a train conductor for the American Railroad Company. He described the Bomba and Plena genres that were played by the sugar cane workers when they finish the harvest.”  

Kadencia is a 13-piece band in its full form but is broken down into a smaller ensemble comprised of six to eight musicians when they perform Bomba and Plena in its percussive and more traditional form at smaller events and workshops.

Besides Sanabria-Ortiz and Sanabria, two other members of the DLA Aviation Richmond workforce are also members of the band. Alberto Solano Rodriguez, a material planner within the Planning Process Directorate’s Material Planning Division, plays percussion and trumpeter Angel Quinones is a quality assurance specialist within the Supplier Operations Commodities Directorate’s Joint Commodities Division.

Sanabria-Ortiz said the response to the Afro-Puerto Rican rooted grooves of Kadencia in the Richmond and Northern Virginia/D.C. areas have been a lot more than they expected. Over the years, they have performed at the Richmond Folk Festival, Henrico Theater, George Washington University, the Lincoln Memorial and Smithsonian Postal Museum, as well as four virtual concerts during the pandemic.

Oh, I forgot to mention one important fact. Besides being the founder of Kadencia, Maurice Sanabria-Ortiz is also Maurice Sanabria’s father.

“It has been an amazing and rewarding experience to work with my son. Although he grew up watching me playing with different bands, it never crossed my mind he would be interested in becoming part of one,” Sanabria-Ortiz said.