Finally! I was at the right place at the right time to catch Pako Santiago in a bongo solo. Pako plays timbales often in Carnavalito, and will take up congas in the new incarnation of Charanga Carolina, but I especially like his sabor boricua on the bongó.
Here he is with Sajaso on Saturday, working a pretty hefty chart at the Cary Caribbean Festival: a 1967 Eddie Palmieri descarga on the Tito Puente composition "Picadillo."
Ramon Ortiz follows him on timbales, then Rafael Duque (keeper of the great blog Sentimiento Mañana) on congas.
Sound equipment was not adequate at this event. This is the first year for the all-volunteer Cary Caribbean Festival, and it was a healthy beginning, but the event would benefit next time from a stage manager and sound crew.
The best way to appreciate the music was to stand next to the bandstand, at the back of the speakers, so the sound could travel naturally to your ears. A drum has natural amplification, after all, that is the essence of a drum. Despite the audio challenges, this event was really enjoyable because of hot moments like these--another Eddie Palmieri classic, from the 1964 album Lo Que Traigo Es Sabroso:
Frank Vila tears up the piano, then Rafael Duque solos again (more audible than in the last clip), Serena Wiley on saxophone, and then guest rumberos Cesar Cordero and Rick Radian dialogue on congas and cajon.
Along with the aforementioned, Jade-Lin Chue played bass, Andy Kleindienst trombone, Guillo Carias subbed on flugelhorn, and leader Ramon "Chino" Casiano performed vocals. Dominican singer Nelson [last name?], formerly of son band La Sexta Clave, played hand percussion.