Thursday, September 17, 2009

Guillo, el Maravillo

Guillo Carias Trio
Guillo Carias Trio @ Sullivan's every Wednesday night, 8 pm - 12 midnight.

Guillo Carias' primary instrument is trumpet/flugelhorn, but for the trio he leads from the piano. Also a master piano tuner and rebuilder, Guillo and his wife Maria moved to the Triangle about a year ago, but his career in music traces back to his youth in Santo Domingo, when his father taught him every instrument in the marching band. Today, he is a well-known figure in Dominican jazz, still returning to the island every year to play their jazz festival, and has released 10 albums under his own name.

This genial trio combines just the right mix of experience and insoucience, with fellow Dominicano Ramon Ortiz on percussion and Andy Kleindienst on jazz bass. Salseros know Andy as the elephant trombone of Orquesta GarDel, but listen and hear what a fine bass player he is. Likewise Ramon, often the timbalero or bongocero in dance bands, is a sophisticated and playful trapset drummer bringing his special knowledge of hand drums to the party.

Ramon and Andy

The suave, muscular dance rhythm of Dominican merengue gives the Carias Trio its unique pulse, energizing standards such as "Speak Low" and "Besame Mucho" like waves breaking the surface of an endless sea of smooth. Guillo, who led hotel bands in Santo Domingo for years, is thoroughly at ease in the cocktail lounge setting, smiling at guests while multitasking on guira, vocals or melodica to keep the voyage percolating.

Here's a characteristic peek at the crew wearing its many hats:

Venue details:
No cover for Wednesday jazz. Sullivan's serves high-end martinis and a surf-and-turf menu at the bar, which has comfortable seating in which to park and listen for hours. ESPN runs on the silent big screens, and the female waits in fishnets are attentive to small parties and high rollers alike.

Downsides: no draft beer, and drink prices are restaurant style, so tax-added totals run into the pennies and dimes. The occasional cigar puffer may get to you if you are sensitive to smoke.

The upside: World class Latin jazz a lo dominicano like you won't hear anywhere else. And Guillo personally tunes the piano every week. If you love live music in the Triangle, check this out at least once.

Guillo Carias' contact page (bio, photos, video clips)

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