Eno festival-goers didn't battle the 99-degree heat and humidity Monday, July 4, so much as give in to it: bikinis, shorts and sunscreen were the order of the afternoon, as Orquesta GarDel threw down a secure, relaxed set. Members of the African American Dance Ensemble, who performed just before GarDel at the Meadow Stage, stayed and rallied for the big salsa party that developed on the lawn.
Down one percussionist (regular conguero Jose Sanchez), GarDel just shuffled a few cards in the rhythm section, moving Julio Correa from his regular position on bongos, to congas, as backing vocalist Ramon Ortiz took the bongo chair. Some fun and new solos caught my ears, from pianist Eric Hirsh and saxophonist Tim Smith, among others.
Horn blower Blu Thompson, Bassist-of-the-sky Pete Kimosh
GarDel's recent Motorco show (still haven't blogged that, but some coverage will be coming soon, I promise) was a turning point, post-EP-release, in terms of live performance. Picking up confidence from the sold-out release party, GarDel seemed to have exhaled and come back revitalized at the June show, rewriting arrangements to provide more elbow room. Mining the tropical momentum of the rhythm itself, they are starting to understand that relaxing tempos can actually expand the energy.
Switching gears comfortably, the Eno set sounded tight, from a fast-clipping descarga, to wide-awake salsas, and the slower "Gracias Te Doy," Nelson Delgado's beautiful cha cha chá to his mother. Undeterred by the heat, GarDel's cadre of dance followers was the strongest its been at Eno, leaping into motion as soon as the band hit the stage.
Many great moments slipped by my camera, but here is the timba I like most of all, "Lo Que Tu Querias," which closed the set:
Not long after GarDel finished, quenching rain cut the festival short, now in its 32nd year of raising funds to preserve the local watershed. I was sorry not to hear closer Peter Lamb & The Wolves, but the sound of rain drumming on the tree canopies at West Point on the Eno Park was fair recompense. It was a great day for music and community in Durham.
Happy 4th, everybody!
Eno festival goers showing their colors