LA Vida with Louie Cruz Beltran at The Ford Amphitheatre
REVIEWED BY RICHARD WISEMAN
Louie Cruz Beltran has been the headliner of the LA Vida Music Festival for the past three years and tonight’s performance confirmed his stature as entertainer, singer, bandleader, conga player, and reminded us just why he was invited to the 34th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival and just why he has attracted such favorable critical attention.
Introducing the Education Through Music organization, which consisted of three violinists (Victoria Lanier, Sarah Villegas and Sunny Smith) and a cellist (Ehrben Tellez), Beltran featured them by themselves in a short classical number, and then included them with his band for a number. They acquitted themselves well on both numbers.
Louie’s ensemble is widely varied and includes a trumpet, vibe, tenor, piano, string bass and yet another percussionist. They achieve some of the most enjoyable Latin jazz--to listen or dance to--of many we have heard in the past, and the aisles gradually filled up with lots of undulating females of all ages.
Saving his solo for near the end of the evening, Louie engraved his signature on the three congas as he mesmerized the crowd, singing along with his drums, proffering virtuoso level improvisations.
His musical organization includes some younger musicians which caught our attention, foremost, the young vibe player Nick Mancini, who was recently honored by the Los Angeles Annual Vibe Summit for his contributions to the L.A. Jazz scene. We noticed his talent while he was warming up following the intermission and his subsequent playing did not disappoint. We would like to review him in a quartet configuration.
The opening band pleased everyone with their musicality and originality. The Ted and Pablo Choro Ensemble is based in Brasilia, Brazil and includes Ted Falcon on violin and mandolin, Pablo Fagundes on harmonica, and George Lacerda on percussion. Their music at times was reminiscent of themes from a James Bond movie, with dramatic chromatic progressions, backed by true modern Brazilian jazz rhythms you will not hear on the airwaves. An additional treat included the Garieira Dancers, Fransini Giraldo, Sambabody and Arastao Maree, who delighted all of us. We hope they reappear soon at the Ford.
Incendio is a quintet which features the guitars of Jim Stubblefield and Jean-Pierre Durand. Supported by a superb rhythm section of Nicole Falzone on drums, Liza Carbe on bass and Bryan Brock on percussion, the group far exceeds the likes of, for example, the Gypsy Kings. Stubblefield, looking absolutely nonchalant, takes his guitar through any tempo, any style, any intensity while maintaining a gorgeous sound. Coupled with Durand and Carbe, the three are a formidable performing monolith.
The Plaza de La Raza Youth Mariachi Ensemble, which could easily be mistaken for a seasoned professional Mariachi band, included some over-the-top vocals by some of the band members. With strong voices, incredible lung power and absolute sincerity of emotion, they were a joy to hear, and in some spots, were quite humorous, something that was noticeable whether or not you understood Spanish.
Luciana Souza and her Quartet come to the Broad
REVIEWED BY LUCIA LEON
Brazilian Jazz Artist Luciana Souza is truly a quintessential
performer, born to Poet Tereza Souza and Singer-composer-guitarist
Walter Santos in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Her vocals masterfully combine
her South American Brazilian soulful roots which fuse into a smooth
Jazz that is very easy on the ears.
Luciana’s performance on Sept. 1st at the Santa Monica Performing Arts Broad Stage, was brilliant and emotional, riveting in her interpretations and a tribute to Chet Baker. She was accompanied by Scott Amendola, who fulfilled multiple functions on drums, percussion, and as a composer, bandleader, electronic sound mover. He is adept at Jazz, Blues, Rock, Groove and New music.
Larry Koonse, who played Jazz guitar, has been playing since the age of 7. Darek “Oles” Oleszkiwicz, played Acoustic. Born in Wroclaw, Poland, he is currently a Jazz Faculty member at the University of California in Irvine.
The performance was soulful,sultry and deeply moving.
A Seductive Scheherazade in Pasadena
REVIEWED BY LUCIA LEON
Seductive Scheherazade at the Ambassador Auditorium was an outstanding collaboration of the Pasadena Symphony and the guest artists, Rossen Milanov, Conductor, and Esther Keel, Piano.
The Program included works from Alexander Borodin (Polovtsian Dances from “Prince Igor”), Camille Saint-Saens’ Piano Concerto No.5 in F major (“The Egyptian”), and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, Op. 35.
Esther Keel’s performance of Saint Saens' “Egyptian” Concerto this evening was superbly done. She was born and raised in Los Angeles and received her Bachelor and Masters of Music Degree from Julliard School, and graduated with an Artist Diploma from the Colburn Conservatory in Los Angeles.
The conductor, Rossen Milanov, is associate Conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Artistic Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts; he is also currently Music Director of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra.
Aimee Kreston, Concertmaster, performed throbbing violin solos in Scheherazade.
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