Monday, July 26, 2010

Timba at the Eno: Orquesta GarDel

Orquesta GarDel fought fire with fire, battling the sweltering heat with candela at the Eno River Festival on July 5. This original song, a Cuban-influenced timba born in North Carolina, will be included on the band's first EP due out this fall:

ORQUESTA GARDEL'S next concert is THIS SATURDAY (7/31) from 6:00-8:00 pm at the Saxapahaw Farmer's Market and Outdoor Music Series. FREE.

GarDel @ Festival on the Eno
Dominican percussionist Ramon Ortiz with his family backstage at the Eno fest.

GarDel @ Festival on the Eno
Dance community, represent! Timba enthusiasts Rick Collier and Tonia Burkett.

Tropic Orchestra @ After Five

Waking the blog from its staycation, and I'll start by cleaning out the attic. Here are a few videos of the recently resurgent Tropic Orchestra at work way back in June. The North Raleigh club, After Five, had a nice layout for salsa, but I don't know if the party has been repeated since. This particular night, DJ Salsa Mike had set up shop. Tropic has started picking up a number of local gigs recently, including the Peruvian Independence Day celebration this past Saturday in Carrboro (more on that to come).

Tropic Orchestra, led by vocalist Ricardo Diquez (better known by the nickname "TNT" in his early days with Samecumba) is still a wiry ball of energy on stage. Coro singer and occasional soloist Jose Rivas, who works in church music, has softer, more romantic vocal qualities that contrast with Diquez' brash street style. If properly mic'ed, it would be nice to see Rivas developed as an alternate color palette in the band's repertoire. The able Andy Kleindienst subbed on bass, always a tasteful listener and contributor to any outing. Forming the seasoned rhythm section at this pick-up gig was Pako Santiago on congas, (pianist) Frank Vila on bongo, and Billy Marrero on timbales. Never asleep at the switch, Ricardo James played trumpet (also of Sajaso), and Joshua Vincent played trombone.

It is worth mentioning that pianist and musical director Andres Leon is the heart at the center of this musical body. A self-taught player from the Venezuelan old school, his strong montunos and tasty rhythmic flourishes keep the salsa pulse pumping, even when the band shows its occasional rough edges. A reminder that even a knife that has nicks in it can cut you.

Here are two videos that both begin with Andres soloing on Willie Colon classics:

Monday, July 5, 2010

Bio Ritmo @ Virginia Beach

Bio Ritmo headlined the July 4 celebration at Virginia Beach last night--with extra percussion: their set kicked off just as the fireworks were getting started.

july 4 ritmo

As an opener, they pounced on the tune "Hermano" from their 2004 Bio Ritmo album:

Rei & Giustino

Marlysse Simmons hit a piano solo on the Roberto Angleró tune "Abicu," just as the fireworks reached their finale:

Filling in on congas was Hector "Coco" Barez, of Calle 13. Yes, that Calle 13. He lives in Arlington now and subs with Bio Ritmo when he's not touring.

Coco & Arnaldo
Hector "Coco" Barez (left) and bongocero Arnaldo Marrero backstage at 24th Street Park

Here's an original, recorded on their latest album Biónico, that showcases timbales, horns and congas:

Coming soon: News about Bio Ritmo and bolero side project Miramar, and coverage of Virginia Beach opening bands Latin Jazz Conspiracy and Tumbao Salsero.