Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tiempo Libre TV

Tiempo Libre was on Dancing with the Stars last night. The musical performance starts at minute 4:30 in:

Tiempo Libre is from Havana by way of Miami, and manager Elizabeth Sobol-Gomez (married to keyboard/leader Jorge Gomez) is a good old girl from Greensboro. Elizabeth has tremendous business savvy, and has charted a bold, unconventional marketing path for this young timba band, whose singer, Joachin "El Kid" Diaz, once sang back up for NG La Banda. They've achieved two Grammy nominations, and have steered toward classical music and mainstream audiences by collaborating with classical orchestras and musicians. I mean seriously, who would have thought it intuitive to pair a timba band with James Galway, and most recently, Joshua Bell?

I don't mean to suggest that the classical/Cuban close embrace is in any way illegitimate; on the contrary. Gomez' father was a classical pianist, so he literally heard Bach while still in the cradle (the German composer's themes are the subject of TL's latest album, Bach in Havana). All these guys had intense classical training at conservatories in Cuba, which is commonplace for the island's expat timba--and jazz--musicians.

One could go further and point out that the fusion of European and non-European modes is the very essence of la música cubana, and fusion is habit-forming. I can't think of a more prolific, syncretic popular music tradition than Cuba's, which according to Juan de Marcos has over 150 different genres. Add to that the Cuban habit of survival through innovation, and consider the fact that many commercial avenues in the US music industry are currently blocked to Cuban styles (in favor of other regional styles of salsa or other genres such as pop and reggaeton), and the move is downright brilliant. Rather than trying to coax American consumers of Latin music into accepting timba, they're storming the barricades of mainstream taste via the jazz and classical music establishments.

But, how does it sound? For hardcore timba fans, there is definitely something there, even if Bach in Havana isn't as full of wall-to-wall, sexy bombast as, say, their Shanachie debut Arroz con Mango. Yosvany Terry and Paquito D'Rivera, representing two generations of great Cuban jazzmen, build the bridge from Miami to New York, with its incumbent artistic seriousness. There is a great deal of pleasure to be had in Bach in Havana, although it is at least as much an intellectual listening experience as a dance spree.

In one my favorite marketing moves in history (perhaps aimed at winning over Cubanophiles who might be soft on the classical hybrid?), TL got their image on Cafe Bustelo espresso cans earlier this year. A few weeks ago, they were on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien playing their track with Joshua Bell from his new duets album, At Home With Friends. Now, Dancing with the Stars...I'm not a fan or follower of the show but I recognize its vast impact on the culture at large, and on the public perception of ballroom dancing.

I think it's fair to describe that kind of rise in mainstream exposure for a US-formed timba band as meteoric, and unprecedented. Whether the strategy will result in CD sales and "brand recogition" in the long term, I can't say, but my hat is off to an industrious and creative team behind a very energetic and authentic band. I've seen Tiempo Libre in NC numerous times and have never been disappointed.

In fact, the first live timba I ever heard in NC was Tiempo Libre, an unexpected find at the outdoor after party to a Poncho Sanchez show at Davidson College several years back. I walked across the campus quad, and walked faster as strains of "El Cuarto de Tula" in an energized timba arrangement reached my ears. What miracle is this? How did Los Van Van meet Buena Vista Social Club on the outskirts of Charlotte?

I don't know if anyone watching Dancing with the Stars had a similar epiphany last night, but anything that puts Cuban rhythms back into the daily diet of American television viewers (tip of the hat, Lucy and Desi) can't be a bad thing. Can't wait to see where Tiempo Libre turns up next.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sajaso Llego

Some pictures from Salsa4U's annual anniversary party, with live music by Sajaso:

Nelson with Sajaso

Nelson Delgado (above) is so well known now as a sonero with Orquesta GarDel and Charanga Carolina, that I almost forgot what a great percussionist he is. He first made his name in Triangle bands as a conguero with Carnavalito, and some other bygone bands.

Jade-Lin with Sajaso

Frank Vila

The sound was great at this show, and the party was by all accounts a big success. Not charging extra for a live band, and featuring a lot of door prizes and cash awards for best costumes, Salsa4U really gave back to its customers. Their monthly social runs throughout the year on third Saturdays at Fred Astaire Studio on Garrett Road in Durham.

Sajaso takes various incarnations and can be pretty loose at times, but they sounded extra good. Something exciting happened during "Oye Como Va": the rhythm section locked in to Pako Santiago's bell pattern, like an excelerant, and took the salsa bridge extra hot and fast. I guess this is what you get when a band can actually hear themselves play.

Now you see him: Frank Vila rocking at the keyboard.

Sajaso's first studio album, Autumn Leaves, is out; review to follow soon.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Cubans are coming?

Omara Portuondo, legendary Cuban singer who came to U.S. audiences' attention in 1996 as an original member of the Buena Vista Social Club, just performed two concerts in California on her first U.S. tour since 2004:

Link: Omara visa story on

I'm not breaking news on this one, but I'm still in shock I think. Does this mean that the doors have finally, definitively, been reopened to Cuban artists? For the past 5-6 years they have been systematically denied visas and FBI clearances.

I had also heard that Pablo Milanés and chamber orchestra of Zenaida Romeu (who performed at Duke before the halt on visas) both received visas around the same time. Is Omara the first to touch down? I'm not sure, but it would be a nice way to reopen the gates.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Plenero Soul

On my radio show this week, one of the tunes I played to advertise Los Pleneros de la 21 was "Chiviriquiton," a plena/rap fusion from the 2005 album Para Todos Ustedes. Little did I know, I would be singing coro to that very song at last night's workshop, as Jose Rivera spit rhymes:

alma de un plenero

I learned a lot of things from the workshop, like that oldtimers used to recycle banjos and drums into panderetas, the hand-held frame-drums of plena. When a drum dies, it goes to plena heaven.

The origin of the term "plena" is undetermined, but various stories circulate; one says it derives from newspaper terminology (plena is known as "the newspaper of the streets"); another that it is related to a woman's name; a third, that it comes from the phrase "plena luna" (full moon).

A lot of the coros are "standards" and the bodies of songs are changed and added on to, depending on the occasion and the performer. This makes it difficult, however, for modern pleneros to establish songwriting credit on their improvisations, a fact Jose mentioned. Jose carries on the plena tradition from his father, Ramon Rivera.

LP21 Workshop


I also learned that bomba, of Kongo origin and found around the coasts of Puerto Rico, has many different styles, some of them regional, and including: bomba yubá, bomba sicá, bomba holandés. Mayagüez has some of the oldest bomba, and is known as a birthplace of sorts, whereas Loíza Aldea is a hotspot for bomba, with some of the fastest varieties.

LP21 Workshop

I was absolutely struck by the confluence of Julia's bomba dancing and Afro-Cuban rumba as it is danced by men. Clearly the importance of Kongo culture and the connections between all these diaspora art forms in the Caribbean has yet to be fully grasped (by me, at least--I'm sure we need more books about it). We were told there is no easy-to-find song book or written resource for plena songs, and none at all for bomba songs.

Julia Gutierrez dances bomba in this video from the workshop.

There seems to be a certain deep, ancestral, spiritual remembrance embedded in these traditions, even if they are not tied to a clear religious practice such as one finds with Santería. Bomba musicians have different schools of thought on the spirituality of bomba, apparently, which was outlawed on parts of the island until very recently (how recently? I have to find out).

There's a lot more in my notes and videos, I will post more when I have time to go over them. In the meantime, Julia Gutierrez gave the dopest dance lessons in plena and bomba! No lectures, no stopping of music, just non-stop action.

On hand for the workshop: LP21 founder and leader Juan Gutierrez, Jose Rivera, Camilo Molina, Alex Lasalle and Julia Gutierrez. A fuller complement arrive for the concert TONIGHT at 7pm in UNC Memorial, slated to include: Nellie Tanco (lead vocals/dance), Sammy Tanco (lead vocals), Desmar Guevara (piano), Pete Nater (trumpet), Waldo Chavez (bass) and Nelson Gonzalez (dance/percussion).

This FREE event remains sold out, but I recommend going early to see if seats are available at the door. There will be SOME seats but how many, is anyone's guess. Also, bear in mind it's football night so parking and traffic may be affected.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Under Oakwood: Raleigh's ELM Collective

Here's some video of ELM Collective's encore at Burning Coal Music Series (Meymandi Theatre in the Murphey School) last Sunday. I arrived late because of a start-time mixup, but still caught about 3 cool songs. Great venue for music. Hm, how about holding a dance in here?

ELM Collective is a world jazz fusion band I wish I could hear more often. They feel their way into some unique territory, based on the talents of 7 international musicians. Middle Eastern, Eastern European and Latin American styles and meters mingle unpredictably. Oud, accordion and funk bass? You betcha. Plus jazz guitar, flute, drumset and world percussion. They share a common love of Chick Corea, but beyond that, don't try to pigeonhole these guys. Loud, soft, classical, dance-oriented...their wide range of original repertoire can work in a lot of different settings.

New Feature: Chartgawking

Snooping through sheet music, snagging set lists that are left on stage--rarely viewed by non-musicians, these tools and detritus of performance fascinate me. Here's what I scoped out at ELM's show, and interpreted with guitarist Alex Gorodezky's help:

Samba 65
Songs change over time; handwritten notes in ELM Collective's sheet music (on the left side) illustrate the evolution of "Samba 65" from the way it was originally written, right down to the provisional title (right side). Click on the photo to see a larger version.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Los Pleneros de la 21 ARRIVE THURSDAY (10/15)

Here's a brief update on Los Pleneros de la 21's two-day residency at UNC-Chapel Hill this week. The premier bombiplena group from New York, performing Puerto Rican folkloric music and dance, will be arriving Thursday (10/15).

The free concert in UNC Memorial Hall on Friday (10/16) at 7 pm is already "SOLD OUT." This means all the advance tickets have been distributed. I don't know if any tickets have been held in reserve. In other words, I DON'T have any insider info, but if you feel you need to be there, and you don't mind taking a chance on not getting in, I'd advise going early to see if any more tickets or open seats become available at the door.

Havana Grill in Cary has been distributing some of the tickets for Friday night's Memorial Hall concert; I just called over there (3 pm Wed) and apparently they still have about 40 tickets left. Another distribution point is Caribbean Cafe in Raleigh; as of 5 pm Wed they have 3 tickets left, call ahead: 919-872-4858.

Non-ticket-holders should also consider attending the free Community Bomba y Plena Workshop which LP 21 will hold Thursday (10/15) at 7 pm in the Sonya Hanes Stone Center for Black Culture on UNC campus.

It will be a smaller group (not all of the musicians will have arrived yet), but the event will be informal and participatory, so you will get to interact with the musicians and dancers up close. It is open to anyone, adults or children, no experience is required. On Wednesday noon I was told there were about 50 spaces left in the workshop. Reservations are recommended; to do so, call or email Ursula Littlejohn, or 962-9001.

More developing...

RADIO ALERT: Interview with THE BEAST Wed @ 6 PM

Today in the first hour of Azucar y Candela, I'll be interviewing some members of The Beast (guests TBA, but most likely Pierce Freelon and Eric Hirsh) about their new album and recent collaboration with Orquesta GarDel.

WHAT: Interview with THE BEAST
WHEN: 6 pm (First hour), Wednesday (10/14)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Back to School


A high school was the last place I thought I'd be dancing to a live charanga band on Friday night. But that was precisely the scene at Durham Academy's Fiesta Latina last week: Young friends and old going back to Salsa Carolina days, moving and grooving to the sounds of Orquesta Broadway and Los Van Van...I had to pinch myself.

This is what happens when you get one Puerto Rican from El Barrio on your board.

That thought makes Bela Kusin smile. Member and former head of the DA Board of Trustees' Diversity Committee, Kusin started out as just another parent whose son attended Durham Academy. But when the Trustees asked her to join, she was eager add her energy and commitment to the school's diversity initiatives.

"It was because the school was so committed to doing something about diversity that I said yes," Bela recalls.

Charanga Carolina plays a tune dedicated to Puerto Rican youth, as bomba dancers approach the drums.

That "something" turned out to be the Fiesta Latina, a community celebration during Hispanic Heritage Month, now in its fourth year.

"It's our gift to the community," Bela says.

Local talent at the free, public event included Colombian trova singer Juan Carlos Echeverri, folkloric dance groups representing Colombia and Puerto Rico, the UNC Charanga Carolina and members of Mambo Dinamico dance company.

Juan Carlos Echeverri dedicated this song celebrating the vital role of singers in every culture to Argentinean folk icon Mercedes Sosa.

But the sensation of the evening had to be Pavelíd Castañeda, just back from France where he performed a dual harp concert together with his son, Edmar Castaneda.

"I've never heard so much music from a harp," opined one listener from Hillsborough.

Pavelíd's harp became an orchestra for dance standards such as "Moliendo Cafe," earning him a standing ovation. One teacher sitting near me closed her eyes and drifted in the rhythm of "Oye Como Va," a faraway smile on her face.

With the Fiesta Latina growing in participation and success each year, Bela is already thinking ahead to make next year's bigger and better.

"I'm not satisfied. I want to pack the house," she says.

Brava. If education takes a village, count me in.

Ed. Note: Bela Kusin was misquoted in an earlier version of this story. Onda Carolina regrets the error.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

CORRECTION: WUNC-TV and UNC-ED showtimes for "Latin Music USA"

UPDATE / CORRECTION: Yes, the show will air!
For digital cable package customers, UNC-ED airs Latin Music USA on 11/17 and 11/24 in two 2-hour segments.

WUNC-TV will air Latin Music USA on four Fridays in November beginning 11/6.

My apologies, UNC-TV! Your website is very hard to search, however, when I enter "Latin Music USA" on a general search I get no records. On the calendar search I had to pre-select the correct day (thanks, Georg) in order to locate these.

New Link Added:
New York Times review of Latin Music USA episode 1

****original post below*****
I just realized that Durham Time-Warner Cable PBS station WUNC-TV is not showing Latin Music USA, a new 4-hour documentary series scheduled to start airing across the country Monday, Oct. 12. This new documentary promises to be a definitive landmark, produced by WGBH Boston and the BBC, and containing interviews with some of the most important living figures in Latin music.

Link: Latin Music USA website
See also "Latin Music USA" on Facebook

The omission is egregious when you consider that it's Hispanic Heritage Month. Preview screenings and concerts with musicians from the film have been going on in cities around the country leading up to this premiere.

I'm really disappointed that it does not appear to be on the WUNC-TV schedule at all, either now or at a later time. (They recently cleared a whole week of regular programming for the Ken Burns National Parks series.) Does anyone know if it is the same story in surrounding areas? Raleigh, Chapel Hill, etc., is it airing on PBS stations where you are?

Durham, we need an action plan. I'm going to call the station on Monday and ask that they air it. Here is WUNC-TV's contact page if you wish to do the same.

Movers and shakers, any thoughts?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Shakori Highlights: Donna the Buffalo with Preston Frank





Shakori Highlights: The Beast

UPDATED! with CD review, see below...


Is anything hotter than The Beast these days? Advance copies of next week's CD release, Silence Fiction, can be snapped up now at their Shakori sets. Catch them again Saturday at 4:15 pm.

The Beast sings the gospel of "Interfaith Dialogue" at the Meadow Stage on Friday

The Beast
's intensity is as taut yet agile as Pierce Freelon's physique, which was partially bared Friday night as he pounced around stage like Rilke's panther unleashed, and even sent a loaned hula hoop careening around his waist at one point.


But The Beast isn't driven by Pierce's undeniable physical charisma alone. Creativity is instrumental, pun intended: this band takes it to another level, complementing Pierce's unbounded thought universe with mood swings and tempo changes that open up these tunes like nested boxes, or turtles on top of turtles on top of more turtles. (Hint: It's turtles all the way down.)



More to come...

UPDATE 10/12...

Silence Fiction
drops 10/16

This will make me sound crazy, but while listening to The Beast's new Silence Fiction CD on my way to the Farmer's Market today, I wept. I was walking around the produce stands, picking out apples and eggplants, with tear-streaked sunglasses. Had anyone asked me what was wrong, I would have said: "I just listened to a really great album."

Let's get to the bottom of this. The musicians of Orquesta GarDel are close to my heart, and hearing the amazing way they are integrated into this production was both moving and really satisfying.

Bringing the Triangle's premier salsa band in to the studio to record "Translation" was a natural extension for GarDel co-leader and Beast arranger Eric Hirsh. I love that song's point of view character, who isn't a cultural insider, but just stumbles into a club with his date on "salsa night." The authentic sound texture emerges like a memory and takes over the song, just as it shapes the couple's insouciant romance. The "translation" that matters isn't getting across a few phrases of Spanish, it's the message that love and culture are both border-jumpers. Once they surround you, they will transform you.

That brings us to another point. The Beast's music stirs emotions as well as thoughts, especially when I contemplate how Pierce's rhymes and Eric's arrangements complement each other. Pierce raps about freedom, and Eric freely alludes to all the different musical styles under his belt, from classical to Afro-Cuban. Beethoven or bembe, nobody cares the places we go.

This whole crazy tapestry of languages makes me wild. The Beast is speaking.

The core musicians in this combo know each other so well that the interaction is smooth and palpable, even through tricky gear shifts. Stephen Coffman's drumming is both powerful and shimmery. I also love the funky bass wisdom of Pete Kimosh, who has made so many of my nights danceable with his stylish tumbao (that's a Latin bassline, y'all) in GarDel.

At Shakori, two more Gardelites Andy Kleindienst and Tim Smith formed a horn section for the latter half of the Friday set, and Tim contributed vocals on an uplifting Al Green cover.

Andy & Tim

And speaking of Tim, when was the last time the Tim Smith Band played Shakori? (2 and half years ago, since you asked.) Seems he's always out there gigging with someone else; hope they invite him back with his own band one of these days.

I've heard Silence Fiction at least a half dozen times now, and The Beast is still speaking to me. How on earth are people supposed to wait until Friday's CD release party at Duke Coffeehouse?! If you must hear it before then, try WXDU 88.7 FM; my promo copy went into rotation tonight.

Shakori Highlights: Locos Por Juana

The bedredlocked singer of Miami's Locos Por Juana calls this one out as their "salsa," yet you would have a hard time identifying any salsa elements in it:

Miami ragamuffins Locos Por Juana in the Dance Tent Friday night

Lead Loco, guitarist Marc [last name], will be the first to tell you: they are not a salsa band. (So he told me after this gig, anyway.) What they are is about a thousand pounds of fun, and their rock fusion repertoire includes a lot of reggae vibes and the occasional heavy cumbia funk. Reflecting the urban melange of hip, hot Miami, the majority of Locos musicians are Colombian, with one Cuban, one Mexican, and two Puerto Rican members. From PR are the rapper [name TBA] and bari sax player Jose "Sapo" [last name], from Mayaguez, who told me his section normally includes a trumpet and trombone.


Love the band; but have to say, I didn't love it as a pick for the Dance Tent preceded by a "Salsa Workshop." A friend I ran into there called that "misleading," and I have to agree, even though neither of us wanted to shortshrift this band on its own groovy merits. This is great music, but doesn't require a dance floor or lessons to get down.

Shakori's Latin programming has been instinctively quite good (with some jackpot surprises like the inclusion of Puerto Rico's Plena Libre last time), but sometimes it's a little hit or miss from the point of view of dancers. I hope the festival programmers will take a teeny bit more seriously the beautiful concept embodied in a DANCE Tent itself: to promote, preserve and present folkloric, traditional dance culture. They don't all have to be canonical or even salsa, but there are many directions in tropical dance that the festival hasn't gone yet; how about bringing a first-class bachata or merengue band? Or punta (although La Fiesta del Pueblo has been hitting that hard by inviting Honduran bands the last few years)? I don't think we've ever had real Colombian folk music, like Totó La Momposina for instance. I would love to hear Colombian champeta or something from Costa Rica, where the mix often includes African, Cuban and Caribbean genres.

If all else fails, why not bring back Ricardo Lemvo y Makina Loca, he hasn't played the Triangle in years, but that was one of the best Dance Tent experiences we (the Latin dancers) have ever been given at Shakori. Or Richmond's Bio Ritmo, they haven't sat on their laurels but keep moving in new directions with their latest album and side projects. To my friends at Shakori, I'd be happy to provide some curatorial consultation if called upon, which is not to say I don't dig your taste and adventurous spirit. You have gone out on a limb more than once, and I always love the music. But in the Dance Tent at least, first and foremost, let's present dance culture. There's a lot of variety in the grassroots world of Latin dance that Shakori hasn't touched on yet.

That said: The explosive, positive energy of Locos Por Juana moves out to the grassy stages for their second show tonight, 8 pm Saturday.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Richmond: Bomba, Bolero & BIO RITMO Sunday

Folk Festival is on in Richmond, and this official after party on Sunday (10/11) features two bands with ties to Bio Ritmo. Jorge Negron, one of BR's original founders, lives in Puerto Rico now, and is visiting with his Master Bomba Ensemble. (The Bomba Ensemble also plays daily at the Folk Fest, see schedule for details.)

Opening is Miramar, comprised of Ritmo sonero Rei Alvarez, pianist Marlysse Simmons and friends. Miramar specializes in boleros and old school romantic Latin repertoire. I've heard Miramar's demo and it's lovely, Alvarez and a female vocalist harmonize exquisitely together. Simmons adds some modern touches with her keyboards but never veers off into kitsch. Yet another cool design concept from the folks at Bio Ritmo. I hope to hear them live soon.

On top of all that, cosmic salsa experiment Bio Ritmo headlines, and all for $10. 7 pm, Capital Ale House, 623 E. Main St, Richmond.

Link: Event Invite on Facebook

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Food Drive & Good Vibes THURSDAY

Mosaic Fall Music Fest is on through the weekend, and Thursday (10/8) is Noche Latina with live music at 8 pm by Guillo Carias Trio and DJ Steven Feinberg. No cover.

Meanwhile "Dance for Hunger," a month-long food drive organized by local salsa and swing dancers, will collect donations for the Food Bank of Central & Eastern Carolina at this event. A list of most needed items is on the Food Bank website.

The campaign has been very successful so far, so if you are able, please join the party and bring a can of food or other item to donate.

It has been phenomenal to see the Triangle dance community coming together and using that positive energy that comes from dance to impact the community at large. Appreciation to all the instructors, venues, dancers and volunteers who are making the collection possible!

UPDATE: a few photos from Noche Latina @ Mosaic 10/8

Noche Latina @ Mosaic

Noche Latina @ Mosaic

Noche Latina @ Mosaic

She Mambos

It's that Sotomayor mambo, at last. Music courtesy of Bobby Sanabria.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's dance partner is Esai Morales, who played the motorcycle-riding bad boy half-brother of Richie Valenzuela in La Bamba. Not bad.

The event was the Sept. 15 gala for the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Flamenco on a Flatbed

Yes, one more video of Ed Stephenson & Paco Band...with a different lineup this time. This is regular percussionist Sara Romweber, rather than Beverly Botsford, and Ryan Johnson, rather than Peewee "Poquitico" Watson on bass.

I'll be honest, I miss Beverly and Peewee, but this is how the regular lineup sounds playing Sting covers on a flatbed stage:


The good cause was a barbecue chicken dinner to benefit an afterschool program for Latino children. As soon as I get a contact from the church for volunteers, I'll pass it along.

Bailame, Amadeus

Wow. Tiempo Libre with Joshua Bell on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien last Friday (10/2). The tune is a reader's digest of Cuban rhythms, rumba/danzon/cha/bembe, and bass player Tony Fonte wore his best kilt!


It's here until NBC takes it down.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


After a 9-month hiatus, Charanga Carolina is BACK, baby. I am pretty sure this is the first time Los Van Van charts have been performed live, by any band, in The Triangle:

[VIDEO] UNC Charanga Carolina directed by David Garcia. Street dancers: Adriana Dwyer and Betto Herrera.

They also performed a lovely, lilting bomba, "Juventud Boricua," and a medley of "Boranda" and "Isla del Encanto." This orchestra has been together for just a matter of weeks, since the beginning of the school year, and the verdict of the old gang from El Barrio was unaminous: tiene swing. This young ensemble laid a solid foundation at Sunday's Festifall in Chapel Hill, with nowhere to go but up.

This year's Charanga has a whole different configuration than it has had before, heavier on the trombones making it just about right for a foray into timba territory. I'm just getting to know the new students, but there are two pianists, Alex Baumgardner and Alex Williams, both with Latin chops. Williams, a UNC freshman (loving it! 4 more years) comes from Atlanta where he played Latin jazz in high school. The violins, about 4 or 5, are turning into a rhythm section; there's also flute and cello.

Best news of all: Next opportunity to hear LA UNICA Charanga Carolina comes already THIS FRIDAY (10/9) at the Fiesta Latina at Durham Academy Upper School (corner/Pickett Rd), 7-9 pm. This diversity outreach/cultural evening is free and open to the public; some Latin American food will be for sale starting at 5:30.

Also on the Fiesta Latina music program: Colombian harpist Pavelid Castañeda who will have just returned from France, where he is currently helping son Edmar select and customize a harp model that will bear his name. Bomba dancers representing the Asociacion de Puertorriqueños Unidos de NC are also expected to perform.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

fall flavor digest

A few things - -

Mosaic Fall Music Fest is ongoing NOW through Oct. 11. Lots of out-of-town, soulful house deejays (East Coast, West Coast, Europe, Canada, etc.) EVERY NIGHT, and a Noche Latina next Thursday (10/8) featuring LIVE Dominican jazz with Guillo Carias Trio.

Charanga Carolina makes a much anticipated return this semester with their debut performance TOMORROW, Sunday (10/4). The student/community cooperative performing ensemble has been on sabbatical for the last 9 months while director Dave Garcia took research leave from UNC. The new formation features many new students getting their sea legs in Latin music, and early rehearsals are promising. The lineup is 4 violins, 1 cello, 1 flute, 3 trombones (led by Charanga alum Andy Kleindienst), 2 pianists, 1 trap drummer, and Latin rhythm and vocals by community musicians Pako Santiago (congas), Ramon Ortiz (timbales), Nelson Delgado and Jaime Ramon (vocals). The only thing missing for Santa Salsera is bongo and, ahem, MORE COWBELL on their Puerto Rican charts like "Isla del Encanto" and "Boranda." But I am loving the energetic new timba charts, including Los Van Van's "Esto Te Pone La Cabeza Mala." As always one gains appreciation of the classics when one hears them in rehearsal, and believe it or not, the timba rhythm puzzle was really cooking and motivating me to dance when I heard Charanga's rehearsal last Tuesday night. This will be a very exciting year. Debut is Sunday 3:30 pm, free at Chapel Hill's Festifall street festival on Franklin.

Link: Festifall's full music lineup here

And finally: What goes together like barbecue and flamenco? Welcome the collision of flavors this Sunday (10/4), 4:00 - 6:30 pm at a Concert on the Lawn at Western Boulevard Presbyterian Church in Raleigh: Music by Mixed Quartet and flamenco guitarist Ed Stephenson & the Paco Band. Expect Ed to be in exceptional spirits since the opening of hockey season and the 'Canes' signing of winning goalie Cam Ward to a 6-year contract. $6 admission; flyer indicates that the good churchgoing folk of Western Boulevard Presbyterian will be serving barbecue chicken. What's not to like?


Man, I am such a space case I forgot to mention the International Festival going on in Raleigh. If you can do it all, I dare you.