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Concert Review

Visiting a concert can be interesting, educating, entertaining, and breathtaking; however, when it is a salsa jazz concert it combines all possible feelings into one emotional charge that fills all the visitors of this event. The concert of Salsa Jazz Band took place on Monday, November 9, at 7.30 p.m. in Kendal Campus of Miami Dade College. The concert hall was reorganized specially for this occasion. The hall was full of people as all the tickets were sold, so the expectations were tremendous. The concert started right at a time mentioned in the tickets. The lights went down, and the specific rhythm of salsa filled the whole place.

Salsa Jazz Band director is Rafael Valencia. The group performed the following compositions: “Mambo Inn” by Mario Bauza, “At the Bridge” by Rafael Valencia, “Quimbara” by Junior Cepeda, “Watch What Happens” by Michel le Grand, “Papa Gato” by Poncho Sanchez, “Woody's Blue” by Woody Shaw and “Sentimiento de Cancion” written by Oscar Hernandez. Special instrumentals that sounded that evening were trumpets by Manuel Orelland and Rene Serrano, trombone by Alex Cruz, saxophones by Raul Duran Bustamante and Keanu Yarima; bass by Alejandro Perez and Benjamin Whitman. George Gonzales was playing a piano, while Alan Arce and Carolina De Leon were playing violin and viola respectively. The guitar player was Steven Alvarez; drums and percussion were represented by David Velazco, Jeremy Whitman, Frank Perez, and Josh Nunez. The lead singer of the evening was Stephany Camacho. It is necessary to mention that all participants of the band are professional musicians, and their level is obvious in every detail of their performance that creates high quality music for their listeners.

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It is quite evident that the band that has words “salsa” and “jazz” in its name would perform Latin-American music, jazz, and other compositions of this rhythmical and sensual style. Having combined the style of jazz, the musicians developed the west coast European classical proportionality and seductive Brazilian rhythms that are now widely popular in the United States. Thin but hypnotic acoustic guitar rhythms focused on simple melodies. The musical mixture of Latin influence spread in jazz manner of the performance presenting a unique combination and melodic intonations of the concert. The listeners experienced the subtle and refined rhythms of Brazilian salsa and bossa nova, pierced with effervescent jazz improvisations, and samples of the most exciting fascinating music.

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The songs were performed in Spanish, Portuguese, and English. The leading singer Stephany Camacho was an ideal finalization of perfectly tuned play of the whole band. Besides Stephany Camacho, the whole band was singing all of their songs moving according to the rhythm of music they played. The charming voice of vocalist and, finally, a unique sound of songs in Portuguese, Spanish, and English created an atmosphere similar to twittering of exotic birds and the lapping ocean in the faraway Brazil coasts. The emotional coloring of the performance was different with every song. Before each next composition, Stephany Camacho was telling a few words about the story behind the song or thanked the audience for their admiring and warm attitude to their musical improvisations. The repertoire of Salsa Jazz Band included Brazilian classics and arrangements of songs, some of which had already become popular and were perceived by the public with a standing ovation. Collective of Salsa Jazz Band also performed its own songs written by the director of the group, Rafael Valencia.

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The most interesting composition of the night was “Quimbara” written by Junior Cepeda and performed with significant enthusiasm by the band. It was evident that the whole band liked this song and enjoyed performing it on the stage. This song was played in tempo allegro; all musical instruments were participating in the creation of this composition but viola. The rhythm was given by percussion and drums team, romantic notes and the leading melody was formed by guitar music, and in the middle there was a beautiful piano part performed by George Gonzales. The specific jazz tone was added to this composition by saxophones. The whole style of this song was rather interesting due to its combination of the leading elements of two different styles into a solid harmonious sample.

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“Quimbara” song cannot leave anybody without emotions. This composition was very rhythmical and filled the bodies of the listeners with its motives. The whole concert hall was willing to dance to such music as it revealed perfect salsa dancing rhythms and created mood perfect for dancing. Besides, the performance of this song was also marked by improvisations of saxophone players Raul Duran Bustamante and Keanu Yarima, as they had to play a solo part and made it with all their virtuosity. The tempo of the music was changing several times producing reminiscent of jazz and salsa individually. This song also could be characterized by the specific comping of different accords that made it sound unusual and quite interesting to the ear of the listeners. Stephany Camacho’s voice in this song is also worth mentioning as it sounded deep in the beginning and verses of the song and changed to mezzo-soprano during the chorus. David Velazco and Frank Perez, playing simultaneously their percussion instruments, added Brazilian coloring to the way the song sounded. Besides, they also let themselves add some improvisations by the end of this composition.

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The general perception of the concert was extremely positive, and people were leaving the hall with a dancing mood. Everybody liked the performance as the musicians, the singers, the band director, and the whole team made a good job in choosing the repertoire for the evening letting people have the whole spectrum of emotions starting from allegro and changing it to the piano and again back to the energetic Latin music. The most specific detail of the evening was that although the repertoire of the evening was known in advance, the singer and the musicians acted like they were thinking what to play next after each composition.

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