Meet Arcano

Grupo Arcano

George Vélez, Jr. - Alto Sax - Director

I started my musical endeavors as a drummer at the age of 13, playing in a Hard Rock/Heavy Metal band along with Danny Diaz.  At age 17, I received my first saxophone and soon found myself in playing in my first Salsa band, 'Los Ricos del Sabor', later changing their name to 'La 4ta Dimencion.'  

In College, I majored in Music Theory and Classical Composition.  I also sat as 1st Tenor in both the Big Jazz Band and the Symphonic Orchestra.

Since then, I've have gotten married and have 5 children.  I have been arranging, transcribing for local bands in the N.Y.C. area, under COQUI JIVES MUSIC (ASCAP).

"The forming of Arcano came at the perfect time for me, and I think I can speak for the others as well.  I am truly amazed at how far we have come in such a short time.  I mean, there are some really good bands out there, but Arcano has what it takes to be Great!"


Anthony Almonte - Congas/Vocals

Anthony, a percussionist and vocalist, was born in New York City.  As a child, Anthony's parents placed him in many activities, one of those being music at the age of 6. Since then, he has studied with music greats such as Angel Rodriguez, Pequeno Johnny Rivero, and Charlie Lagond. In his young career, Anthony has incorporated the Latin percussion instruments with projects and bands of various styles and genres. His energetic performance and stage presence gives the audience more to enjoy. At a young age, he has already performed with a wide breadth of artists, including Johnny Pacheco and Dave Valentin, also toured with The Element Band and was part of HBOs "The Music In Me". Anthony studied at Manhattan School of Music Summer, Boys Harbor, and also Lagond Music for 6 years before joining them as a percussion instructor. He is currently playing for The Jonny Hirsch Band, Charlie Lagond and Friends, Renaissance Collective, Abrazos Entertainment y La Timba De Ayer, and now Grupo Arcano.  

Harold Gutierrez - Piano

Harold was born in Santa Fe de Bogota and began his musical studies at a very age at the Conservatory of National University where he studied the basics of music.  In 1998, he joined the Academia Superior de Arte de Bogota where he continued his studies, but focused on the music of the Caribbean and Latin America.

He arrived in the U.S. in 2000 to participate in the Kingsville International Young Performers Competition and in the Isabel Scionti Piano Solo Competition.  In New York, he participated in the 12th Annual Competition for the Charlie Palmieiri Memorial Piano Solo Scholarship, winning 1st Place for two consecutive years., thereby receiving a grant to study at Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts.  

Harold has studied with maestros; Sonny Bravo, Hector Martignon, Pablo Mayor, Ubaldo Diaz and MArtin Souderberg.

He received his Master's Degree from the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College.


Jacob Teichroew - Tenor Sax

Jacob is a musician, music educator and music journalist based in NYC.  A versatile performer, Jacob graduated with a degree in Classical Saxophone performance, and performs Jazz, Rock, Contemporary improvisation and Salsa in numerous ensembles.  He recently received the Jimmy Heath Excellence in Jazz scholarship from Queens College, where he is pursuing a Master's degree in Jazz performance under the tutelage of Antonio Hart and Michael Mossman.  He has received awards from Downbeat Magazine, and was one of four finalists in the 2006 NASA Young Jazz Artist national competition.

As an educator, Jacob teaches saxophone privately to students young and old.  He also teaches woodwinds and conducts a band in inner city schools through the Third Street Music Settlement.

Jacob has published articles for, works as a freelance promotional biographer, and was formerly the Jazz editor at

In 2013, his debut Jazz album, Jacob Teichroew Quintet, Tableaux was released.


Juan Gerena - Timbales

Juan Gerena was born in New York of Puerto Rican parents.  He has been greatly influenced by the traditional rhythms of Puerto Rican music including the Bomba and Plena.  He began his musical career playing bongos as a young child. He has since mastered many other percussion instruments such as timbales, congas, drum set along with many other hand percussion instruments. Juan has studied with master percussionists: Johnny Almendra, Robert Vilera, David Rovins and Tito Cepeda.

In an extremely competitive business, Juan Gerena has managed to become an active player with an excellent reputation as one of New York's most sought after Latin percussionists. During his ten years as a professional musician, Juan has performed with many notable artists including Michael Pemberton, Hector Martignon, Frankie Negron, Grupo Imagen, Broadway singer, Sarah Ramirez and Latin Grammy winner, Laura Pausini. Currently Juan plays timbales for the Christian Salsa singer Puchi Colon and Fania recording artist, Seguida. Gerena also plays drums and timbales for the Latin rock group, SOULSA.

Mike Engstrom - Trombone

A New Yorker and active freelance trombonist, Mike holds a Master of Music degree from the Mannes College of Music where he studied with Alan Baer and Per Brevig; and a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Minnesota where he studies with Tom Ashworth.  Mike has performed extensively with Latin bands throughout the NY area including, La Excelencia, Jimmy Delgado y Salsa con Dulzura, Juan Echevarria y Somos Latinos, Hector Ramos, Chollo Rivera, and others.  He has performed with the Mike Fahie Jazz Orchestra, Josh Schneider's EasyBake Orchestra, and subs regularly with the Howard Williams Jazz Orchestra.


Larry Nissman - Trumpet

Larry received his Bachelor of Music and Arts fromthe University of Michigan.  He studied trumpet with the renowned Boston Symphony principal trumpet, Armando Ghitalla.  He also holds a Masters Degree in Environmental science.

After college, Larry played on the local NYC scene with small Jazz ensembles and big bands.  He toured with the National Broadway production of Starlight Express and recorded music for TV jingles.  Larry took some time off to pursue other interests in Fort Lauderdale, Fl., but continued to perform.  While in florida, he performed with the legendary founder of Ska music, Carlos Malcolm and with local Salsa band, Sabor Latino.

Now that he is back in the NYC area, he is thrilled to be part of Grupo Arcano.


Nadav Nirenberg - Trombone

Nadav is quickly establishing himself as a trombonist/bandleader in New York City.  In addition to co-leading "Ikebe Shakedown", a Brooklyn-based instrumental Afro-Funk group, he's in high demand as a session player/sideman in the NYC area, having shared the stage/recorded with The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Wyclef Jean, Seun Kuti, Adam Deitch, Jose Conde, James Andrews, Brother Josephus, Bonerama, Zozo Afrobeat, The New Groove Orchestra and many more artists.


Antonio Rodriguez - Bongos

Abraham Saenz - Bass

Amarilys Velez - Back Vocals

George Vélez, Sr. - Vocals

George has been involved in music for over 40 years.  A long time Trombonist, he has now stepped up to the front line as one of Arcano's vocalists.  He is the father of Arcano's Musical Director.