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By Dan Kimpel
For an Irish-American born in Detroit, Arthur Hanlon has created a notably original niche in Latin music. The songwriter/composer, pianist and arranger relocated to New York, after high school, ostensibly for courses in classical music at the Manhattan School of Music. The sizzling sounds from New York’s vibrant Latin music scene soon replaced Tchaikovsky with timbales: A studious classical musician by day, Hanlon became a dynamic tropical player by night.
Eventually the sound and culture guided him further south to Miami where he was signed to Fonovisa Records where his major label debut, El Piano Amarillo, (The Yellow Piano), introduced his artistry to the record buying public. In 2004, Hanlon created 11 Números Uno, showcasing his stunning interpretations of treasured Latin hits. But it was his next release, La Gorda Linda, and its #1 title track, that earned him honors for the 2006 Billboard Latin Music Awards for Tropical Airplay Song, New Artist, and Latin Dance Club. A melodious ode to comely women with voluptuous figures, the title song featured top Salsa star Tito Nieves on vocals while a stellar list of producers — Sergio George, Kike Santander and Arturo Sandoval — all contributed to the various tracks.
Hanlon’s most recent outing, Mecanomanía, spotlights his interpretation of the songs of the iconic 1980s Spanish pop group Mecano, as he folds shimmering hues of orchestral pop into chill-out arrangements illustrated in rich Latin colors. (In addition to the group’s well-known hits, Hanlon also penned a song in their honor.)
As evidenced by his growing audience and influence, for Arthur Hanlon — and listeners in all languages — music is a transporting force capable of floating over genres and borders as it arrives at innovative new destinations.