The Tropic Orchestra joins forces with DJ Salsa Mike this Friday for the "Fifth Friday" party at Carmen's Cuban Cafe. This newest ensemble playing salsa in the Triangle debuted on Valentine's Day. I was there and will publish more details shortly.
Vocalist/leader Ricardo Diquez says they have added a couple of new charts, and will play two sets, at approximately 11:00 pm and [corrected] 1:00 am.
Billy Marrero, the man with the golden güiro, will be joining Tropic Orchestra tonight. Billy joined Charanga Carolina (currently on hiatus) last fall and is pictured here, far left:
Other members of Tropic Orchestra include Jessie Rivera, bongocero, Sherry Damon and Christine Thompson, trombones, Abdala Villegas, timbales, Andrew Munger, congas, and vocalists Ricardo Diquez and Ivan Ramirez.
At their debut 2/14, these guys and gals had good, heavy flavor and charts selected from salsa dura classics that bode well for their aesthetic direction: Oscar D'Leon, El Gran Combo, Cortijo with El Sonero Mayor, Willie Colon with Hector Lavoe. There was a nice, mixed-generational crowd in attendance too, hearkening back to Montas and even Salsa Carolina days. So the vibe was right. It's nice to hear Ivan Ramirez, who I know only as a heavy metal bassist, singing lead. A nice counterpoint to the bright fire of Ricardo, who we knew as "TNT" in the early days of Samecumba. The band is still getting its sea legs on some of the arrangements and odd rhythm breaks, but with some rehearsal and communication they have the potential to work these things out. Sherry Damon, who teaches trombone at Mt. Olive College, already brings a formidable "dirty" sound to the Willie Colon moñas. The band does need to tune up secondary vocals on the coros, and keep that vital rhythm section together. My advice for the bandstand: Don't have too much fun yet. Always remember that playing salsa well is hard work. The best admonition comes from trombonist and ethnomusicologist Chris Washburne in his new book Sounding Salsa, echoing a famous Willie Colon album cover: "Play like there's a gun to your head!"
No doubt a demanding audience of salsa dancers will be there tonight to check it out.
WHAT: Tropic Orchestra
WHEN: live music 11pm-2am Friday (2/27)
WHERE: Carmen's Cuban Cafe
COST: $15 (student and military ID: $10)
The Tropic Orchestra's myspace page
Carolina Latin Social has made this a Meetup event.
Post-gig Playback (added 2/28):
Billy Marrero was a replacement for Jessie Rivera for this gig. A new pianist played also, Venezuelan Andres Leon. He played a couple of solos which provoked interest, the first in "Todo Tiene Su Final" started off abstract, held its own and developed into a decent, long solo. Nice to know another pianist in the area who can play a long solo. Tropic wrapped up its second set with a slow, dark cha cha in which Christine Thompson laid out a bluesy trombone solo. Leon again showed nice colors in a second solo that was the richest of the night.