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Category: latin music

Elegant, Intricate, Psychedelic Cumbias and Tropical Sounds on the Upper West Side

Saturday evening on the Upper West Side, banks of grey clouds were moving in fast and ominous. But in the community garden on 89th west of Amsterdam, tucked in cozily under a tent, Inti & the Moon played a colorful, upbeat, intricately individualistic mix of tropical sounds with tinges of psychedelia and jazz.

There is no Inti in the band. Inti is the Incan sun god: so, the band cover all the bases. They did all that in a mix of originals and imaginative covers. Bandleader/guitarist Geo Suquillo played spiky thickets of fingerpicking, flinging shards of chords into the mix. Frontwoman Noel Wippler shifted from a simmering, ripe, oldschool soul-infused delivery to a wounded wail in the night’s biggest crescendos, in both Spanish and Portuguese. Alto saxophonist Xavier del Castillo began the night playing brooding resonance on the band’s first number, then shifted to alto flute on a few songs, including a bossa tune where he played both.

This group’s cumbias are more relaxed and slinky than the briskly pulsing chicha-style versions that some of the bands around town – at least the ones playing before the lockdown – typically gravitate toward. It was the bass player’s birthday, and he was clearly in a good mood, adding deft harmonic accents against low open strings, plus fleeting hammer-ons and slides. The drummer brought a jazz sophistication, whether subtly riding the rims, or working his way into a 5/4 groove on a biting minor key number which for a second seemed to be a Caribbean take on Take Five.

Suquillo saved his most sparkling solo for a bright, merengue-flavored tune, then took it unexpectedly dark and vampy after a long solo. Del Castillo’s plaintive phrasing pulled the song further into the shadows before a tantalizingly brief guitar/sax duel. The biggest hit with the crowd was Wippler singing an impassioned take of Los Hijos del Sol’s classic Carinito, over an animated but restrained backdrop. There were a couple of other popular covers in the mix, one possibly from the Yma Sumac catalog, but done with much less fanfare. The band approached a familiar Jobim theme with a similar elegance and encored with a stately Brazilian ballad.

With November looming, there isn’t much in the way of live music that’s been publicly announced which is open to all New Yorkers without apartheid restrictions. However, Inti & the Moon have been staples of the free outdoor concert circuit since the late teens, so it’s hardly a stretch to think they might try to squeeze in another park appearance like this before winter gets here.

Magos Herrera Brings Her Elegant, Genre-Defying, Poignant Songcraft to a Popular Outdoor Queens Spot

Singer Magos Herrera‘s music spans the worlds of jazz, film themes, contemporary classical and many styles from her native Mexico. This blog has witnessed her in a rapturous, intimate duo performance with her longtime collaborator, guitarist Javier Limon, as well as a much more lush and politically-fueled set with string quartet Brooklyn Rider. When live music was criminalized throughout much of the world in 2020, she turned to the web for supporting musicians. The result is Con Alma, the most eclectic album of an amazingly eclectic career, an “operatic tableau on isolation” streaming at Bandcamp. Herrera is back in action in New York, with a 7 PM gig outdoors on Halloween night at Terraza 7, where she’s leading a quintet. The Elmhurst venue is best known for jazz, so that’s probably going to be what Herrera brings to the stage, but knowing her, anything is possible.

The album is a mix of energetic acoustic guitar-driven numbers, imaginative pieces for orchestra and vocals and choral works. As you would expect from an album created during the lockdown, there’s an ever-present apprehension, but also hope. As fascinating as this music is, you will want to skip track seven – a found-sound collage on which Herrera does not appear – which contains PTSD-inducing samples of social engineering run hideously amok, a 2020 artifact best buried forever.

The first track is La Creación de las Aves, Vinicius Gomes’ circling, nimbly fingerpicked  acoustic guitar loop anchored by Jeffrey Zeigler’s sweeping cello and Gonzalo Grau’s lithely understated cajon.

Tree of 40 Fruit begins as an uneasily close-harmonied soundscape, layers of wordless vocals by Constellation Chor‘s Marisa Michelson blended with a little crowd-sourced spoken word on themes of isolation and alienation. She quickly builds it to an anguished series of peaks: the effect of all the multitracks wipes away any sense of loneliness or abandonment.

Clarinetist Kinan Azmeh joins with guitarist Romero Lubambo for moody but energetic dynamics in Rojo Sol, a bristling, flamenco-tinged ballad. Alma Muerta, a choral collaboration with Ensemble Sjaella rises from a desolate, Gregorian chant-influenced atmosphere to a web of stricken, shocked operatic riffs.

With her broodingly impassioned vocalese, Herrera and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería reinvent the album’s title cut – a Dizzy Gillespie hit – as a shapeshifting mini-suite, moving from cumulo-nimbus orchestration to a delicately bouncy, balletesque rhythm.

Ensemble Sjaella return for Fratres, by Paola Prestini, Herrera and the choir moving uneasily between early Renaissance-flavored ornamentation, grey-sky ambience and tremoloing atmospherics.

The lush treble counterpoint of Prestini’s Thrush Song, sung by the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, offers a glimpse of hope. Herrera and her Mexican orchestral colleagues wind up the album with a strikingly stark, gracefully rhythmic take of Cucurrucucú, a longing-infused ballad made famous by Mexican singer Ana María González in 1954.

Acoustic Reggae and Similar Rarities by a Fixture of the NYC Parks Concert Circuit on the Upper East

Other than Bob Marley’s iconic Redemption Song – “How long must they kill our brothers while we stand aside and look?” – there’s hardly any acoustic reggae. In fourteen and a half years of concerts in what was once the live music capitol of North America, this blog and its predecessor covered exactly one acoustic reggae show, by Jamaican toaster I-Wayne. And that was a private performance for media, in the fall of 2011 in a west side studio with ganja smoke seeping out through cracks in the door.

But if you’re in Manhattan on Oct 29 and you can get to Second Avenue and 90th St. by 3 PM, you might see some acoustic reggae when ukulele player Dahlia Dumont and her group the Blue Dahlia play Ruppert Park.

Dumont has been plugged into the municipal concert circuit for the past several years, and her passion for reggae and ska matches her fondness for playing outdoors. She writes in English and her native French, in lots of other styles ranging from French varietés pop to Balkan music. Her most recent, characteristically eclectic album La Tradition Américaine got the thumbs up here in 2018.

She’s put out more material since that record, streaming at her music page. At the top, there’s Betty, a characteristically bouncy, horn-spiced quasi-ska song encouraging everybody to stop complaining about the status quo and police brutality, and go out and vote. En Dehors du Temps (Outside of Time) is a lot quieter, a wistfully waltzing familial reminiscence. Dumont recorded The Walls during the 2020 lockdown, an understatedly angst-fueled piano ballad about a relationship interrupted by fascist travel restrictions. “If we make it to the other side, will you be much changed?” she asks, speaking for as many people as Marley did with Redemption Song.

Nobody at this blog has ever caught a full set by Dumont. The closest was about the last twenty minutes of a show where she squeezed a good-sized band, including guitar, accordion and rhythm section, into an intimate Park Slope space a few months before the album came out. Dumont has also been a fixture at the annual late-November outdoor music festival that ran down Broadway from Dante Park across from Lincoln Center down to Columbus Circle. She brought a stripped-down trio to those shows, as she most likely will do at the Upper East Side park gig. She has an expressive voice, boundless energy and a sense of humor, all things we all could use right now.

Sonido Costeño Kick Out the Salsa Jams This Weekend

Sonido Costeño play an especially edgy, individualistic blend of oldschool salsa and other styles from south of the border and the Spanish Caribbean. Their most distinguishing feature is bandleader Juan Ma Morales’electric cuatro, which he wields to create a jangly, clanging, bristling intensity. The horns punch in and the group’s percussion section build an undulating groove, but it’s the cuatro that sets this group apart from their brassy brethren. They play a lot of outdoor shows, and they’re doing one on Oct 23 at two in the afternoon on the big plaza in front of the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza.

Check out the clip of La Murga at their Vimeo channel, from a show at a park on the Hudson this past Fourth of July. Morales flings bits and pieces of chords through a chilly pool of reverb, sings with a gritty intensity, and the horns add smoke and flame when they kick in. He plays guitar on Falling Rain, an English-language cha-cha recorded at a Brooklyn Museum show, and the sound is just as careening and fearless: the guy always sounds like he’s about to go over the cliff, but never does. And it’s contagious: the piano player’s solo is just as unhinged.

Sin Tu Carino, another song from the July 4 set, is more lighthearted, riffy and horn-driven. Scroll down for a scruffy take of Indestructible at the old Gonzalez y Gonzalez in the West Village, where Morales leaves his guitar on its stand and sticks to vocals for a more oldschool, traditional Spanish Harlem sound.

The group also have a few cuts from studio recordings up at their music page, which are predictably more lush and digital-clean. No doubt they will give that stuff more edge and bite at the library gig.

A Lavish Upcoming Album From Salsa Jazz Pianist Dayramir González

Pianist Dayramir González is an incendiary, hard-hitting jazz pianist who could be characterized as the missing link between McCoy Tyner and Eddie Palmieri. He slayed at one of the very last latin jazz concerts at Lincoln Center, at the end of 2019. Gonzalez’s lavishly orchestral new album Tribute to Juan Formell & Los Van Van, which hasn’t hit the web yet. A diverse cast of salsa singers from across the decades take turns in front of the band; the record also comes with a full-length concert video. This album is more testament to Gonzalez’s outside-the-box ambitions than his sizzling chops.

The songs are a turbocharged mix of foundational Cuban salsa hits, awash in strings and sweeping brass. Brenda Navarre intones a brief homage to Formell, their guiding force, over Gonzalez’s bright neoromantic chords, then all of a sudden she shifts to an incantation to the spirits.

Gonzalez completely flips the script with Tu Decision, reinvented as latin P-Funk with a woozy synth organ patch, flute and orchestral strings. He switches back to piano as the orchestra backs away for bright flute and sax solos.

Alain Perez sings Mis Dudas with a gritty intensity over an undulating, symphonic sweep: it’s a mini salsa symphony. Luna Manzanres takes over the mic for Este Amor Que Se Muere, Gonzalez and the strings adding a towering angst before the brass and the groove kick in.

David Blanco provides the vocals on the catchy anthem Anda Ven y Muevete, which Gonzalez and the band reinvent as quasi-rocksteady. Then Teresa Yanet delivers a strikingly raw, plaintive take of Todo Se Acabo over a slinky, plush backdrop.

With Mandy Cantero out in front of the band, Deja la Boberia is both more rustically rhythmic and symphonically cosmopolitan than the original. Later on Hayla Mompie joins Cantero for El Guararey de Pastora, which also has a more rugged groove and a wickedly spiraling Gonzalez solo.

No Te Quieres Tu, a duet between Mayito Rivera and Arlenys Rodriguez, is the most epic, lavish rearrangement here: the surprise ending is killer. Next, Rivera and Telmary Diaz team up for a slyly funky reggaeton remake of Marilu.

Abdel Rasalps, Diaz, Rivera and Rumba Pelladito all join in a serpentine version of Chan Chan to close the record.

A Wild Cuban Salsa Dance Party at Drom

Friday night at Drom, percussionist Pedrito Martinez and his band put on a feral, thunderous dance party. This wasn’t tame, watered-down covers of famous salsa jams from the 70s: Martinez plays originals, set to a constantly shifting, slinky groove. If the club wasn’t sold out, it was close to capacity, and from the second the smoke machine kicked in and the band hit the stage, people were dancing in their seats.

That didn’t last. By the end, everybody was on their feet. There was one particular couple who spent the entirety of the show twirling in between the tables, and they were just as interesting to watch as the band were, completely locked into the kaleidoscope of rhythms. When the pretty brunette saw Martinez move from behind his massive kit to show off his own dance moves at the front of the stage, she leapt up onstage and joined him. By the end of the show, the duo looked as if they’d changed shirts. You would have too if you’d given yourself that kind of workout.

In this band, everybody is part of the percussion section, even the horns. Martinez had six congas, a snare, hi-hat, two cymbals slung overhead, and would occasionally drive home a turnaround with a mighty thump on the cajon he was sitting on. He introduced his timbalero as “the greatest percussionist of his generation,” and nobody in the crowd argued with that, especially when the two dueled and built supersonic volleys of beats, to a tropical hailstorm.

The group’s roughly ninety-minute set was like one long song, but with sometimes subtle, sometimes spectacular rhythmic shifts. Even more impressive than the sheer physicality and grace of the performance was how fresh it sounded. Martinez has been doing this for a long time, but the chemistry in this band is such that everybody knows how to push everybody else’s buttons and drive the jousting to new levels of intensity.

Martinez’s forthcoming album is titled Autentico, and his pianist is in charge of the arrangements, so it was no surprise to see what a polyrhythmic approach he took to his cascades and stabbing chords. Likewise, the group’s bassist would hammer on the strings with the edge of his fist rather than merely fingerpicking. The man in the sunburst shirt who started out on guiro doubled on both trombone and trumpet, often playing all three instruments in the same song. And it was fun to watch Martinez take a turn on bass late in the set: he knows what he’s doing! Likewise, the timbalero took over on congas when Martinez would get up to dance with a pretty girl.

Incendiary Guitar in Brooklyn and Queens

Tuesday was a good day for hotshot guitarists in New York. The first played acoustic, the second fronted a sizzling electric band. Each put an individualistic, high-voltage spin on an old tradition.

At one of the ongoing outdoor lunchtime concerts at the little plaza where Willoughby meets Pearl Street in downtown Brooklyn, Noe Socha proved he’d been polishing his chops during the lockdown, both on guitar and blues harp. His second set of the afternoon was a mix of expertly fingerpicked traditional blues from across many styles, many of them instrumentals, along with a handful of more outside-the-box, jamband-oriented material.

Playing a duo set with a bassist who provided a slinky backdrop when he wasn’t doubling the melody line, Socha shifted effortlessly from one open tuning to another. The most rustic tunes began in the Mississippi delta, Socha sometimes playing with a slide. His brisk fingerpicking on some of the other songs seemed rooted in both Piedmont and Texas styles. Occasionally, the two musicians would play over a backing track of simple chords. The most adventurous number was a leaping, bounding mashup of Thelonious Monk phantasmagoria and what could have been a darkly simmering Albert King ballad, in a past life. What’s coolest about Socha is that pretty much everything in the set could have been an original: he doesn’t just play the same old standards everybody else does. The sun isn’t just gonna shine on his back door someday. It’s there right now.

Later in the evening, the fireworks were at Gantry Plaza State Park on the water in Long Island City, where Santo Domingo-born Yasser Tejeda & Pelotre roared and slithered through a head-bobbing set of mostly original material centered around several beats from his Dominican home turf. Joined by a bassist who played fat, puffy downtuned lines, Tejeda’s drummer and percussionist – the latter on a big kit with congas and bongos – further energized the big crowd of dancers gathered down front. It’s impossible to remember seeing so many people – at least three hundred, probably twice that including everybody passing through – at this space for a concert. Tejeda may be a popular guy anyway, but New Yorkers are clearly starved for live music right now!

Tejeda brings a fiery psychedelic rock intensity to merengue. If you love the ramshackle improvisation of oldschool merengue tipica but wish it was louder, Tejeda is your man. He loves reverb, an effect that really resonated across the boomy stone plaza. Other times he played through a chorus pedal, using various levels of iciness.

He started the set with a catchy minor-modal bounce that was almost a cumbia. The second number was where he first brought in an achingly majestic David Gilmour-style wail that ultimately looked back to Jimi Hendrix, but without being imitative. Meanwhile, the rhythm section churned out a galloping triplet groove that reminded of qawwali in places: these guys obviously have their ears wide open.

The quietest numbers of the set were a quasi-cumbia take of the Beatles’ Do You Want to Know a Secret, which Tejeda sang in Spanish, and later a spare minor-key original where Tejeda brought to mind the Police’s Andy Summers at his most mutedly somber. The best song of the night was an original instrumental that sounded like Juju-era Siouxsie & the Banshees doing a creepy merengue, Tejeda setting his chorus box to deep freeze. With the rest of the merengues, Tejeda sped up, slowed down, then finally played a cheery old carnival tune from the 1950s that turned out to be the biggest hit with the dancers. In the careening final number, Tejeda quoted liberally from Bob Marley’s I Shot the Sherriff on the the turnarounds when he wasn’t firing off icepick volleys of tremolo-picking. What a party!

Tejeda’s next gig is at the downtown plaza at Willoughby and Pearl on Aug 24 at noon for two sets. Socha’s next non-apartheid gig is Aug 22 at around 8 outdoors at the Flying Lobster, 144 Union St off Hicks, just over the BQE. Take the F to Smith/9th. 

Trans-Global Entertainment With Accordion and Guitar in Downtown Brooklyn

Erica Mancini is an eclectically talented accordionist with a background equally informed by jazz, tango, cumbia and Americana, to name a few styles. She sings in a high, crystalline jazz voice and is a master of passing tones on the keys. Smokey Hormel was Johnny Cash’s last lead guitarist, but also has a thing for Brazilian music and jazz. The two make a good team. Playing a duo set at the little pedestrian mall where Willoughby meets Pearl Street in downtown Brooklyn on Tuesday afternoon, they treated a sunstruck lunchtime crowd to a major portion of the innumerable (some would say unlimited) styles suited to their two instruments.

Mancini sang the opening number, a torchy Brazilian tune, in Portuguese. Later on, she spun counterintuitive cascades through a couple of rustic Colombian coastal cumbia instrumentals.

Hormel was especially at home, both voicewise and fingerpicking his vintage National Steel model, on a couple of Hank Williams songs and a jaunty, bittersweet duet with Mancini on the old Lefty Frizzell country hit Cigarettes and Coffee Blues. But he also had fun with an English translation of what he called a Brazilian cowboy tune.

Mancini invited up a friend to sing fetching Carter Family-style harmonies on I’ll Fly Away and then an extended, playful version of Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen. Mancini’s version of another klezmer favorite, Comes Love, was just as wryly cheery. The two didn’t do any Romany swing, or tango, or Mexican banda music, but this was just the first set. It’s anybody’s guess how many other cultures they dipped their voices into in the next hour.

The next lunchtime show on the little plaza is Aug 17 at noon with acoustic fingerstyle delta blues guitarist Noe Socha. Mancini’s next gig is tomorrow night, Aug 13 at 8 PM at Sunny’s in Red Hook, her usual home base these days. Hormel is also at Sunny’s on Aug 18 at 8 with his western swing band.

Ariana Hellerman, the onetime publisher of Ariana’s List, a fantastic guide to live music and summer festivals, runs the series here. In addition to advocating for live music, she also has a passion for dance and is especially proud of the dance series she’s booking further down the Fulton Mall at Albee Square, a series of performances featuring styles from around the world that continues into the fall.

Gorgeous, Provocative, Timely New Tango Sounds From Los Tangueros del Oeste

2021 is the Astor Piazzolla centenary. The notoriously combative godfather of nuevo tango would probably be asking us right now, “Why aren’t you fighting harder?” Whatever the case in your part of the world, the fight for reason and normalcy is growing toward critical mass right now, and to inspire us, we have a vast number of recordings which were assembled over the web during the lockdown. One of the most gripping is Los Tangueros del Oeste‘s new album Alma Vieja (Old Soul), streaming at Spotify. It’s a transcontinental collaboration by a colorful, expert cast of tango musicians helmed by bassist Sascha Jacobsen and crooner Manuel Berterreix. This is a gorgeous and cutting-edge record.

The opening instrumental, Reflexión coalceses out of a dissociative, polyrhythmic introduction to a stern, unhurried theme, Charles Gorczynski’s bandoneón wafting over Pablo Estigarribia’s glittering piano lines as Carlos Caminos’ guitar fingerpicking mingles into the mix. Violinist Ishtar Hernandez signals a dip toward longing, then the ensemble pick up the energy again. It’s all the more impressive considering that all the individual tracks were recorded remotely in very different sonic environments.

Berterreix makes his entrance on the album’s defiant title track, an anguished sendoff to loved ones (and loved places) lost during the lockdown. The music slowly sways along over an echoey drum machine pattern; here, it’s Adrian Jost’s pulsing bandoneon that’s subtly echoed by Estigarribia.

Jacobsen’s stately, ominously strutting bass propels the instrumental Bordoneo y 2020, referencing the classic tango Bordoneo y 900. María Volonté’s heartfelt spoken word introduces El Rumbo de mi Corazón, a surreal mashup of nuevo tango and reggaeton. The instrumental La Máscara portrays the most loaded image in the world since March of 2020 with a sinister, phantasmagorical strut, aching violin and dramatic piano: clearly, Jacobsen gets the big picture.

The brooding Milonga de los Muertos is basically a trip-hop tune, a requiem for Jacobsen’s grandmother, whom he lost on the Day of the Dead in 2019. La Historia de Zola Lapiz (an anagram of a certain famous composer’s last name) is spiced with the occasional Piazzolla reference. That drummer Ari Refusta and percussionist Marlon Aldana were able to overdub themselves seamlessly into the mix – bolstered by Lewis Patzner’s cello – is impressive, to say the least. The conflagration at the end is one of the high points of the album.

The bouncy, carefree Carreta Antigua (Old Carriage) borrows from indigenous Argentine music – it’s practically a cumbia beat. A Pampa Cortés – a salute to the famous tango dancer – has an aptly lithe but also wary sway and a clever interweave of counterpoint. Un Bajo de Magia (Bass Magic) is a playful vehicle for Jacobsen’s multitracks on a small orchestra’s worth of basses, Gorczynski winding around before pianist Seth Asarnow adds a carnivalesque touch.

Everything heats up at the end of the album. El Bombero (The Fire Truck) is the closest thing to psychedelic cumbia here, complete with Berterreix’s rap. True to its title, the cheery, Italian-flavored El Torbellino (The Whirlpool) has an increasingly complex web of rhythms, vocally and otherwise.

The final number is Zamba Zefardim, continuing the venerable Piazzolla tradition of blending tango with Jewish melodies. His early years living next to synagogue would serve him well as a composer; Jacobsen draws on his own Sephardic background in the album’s most lushly dynamic, orchestral instrumental.

A Blissful Return For Arturo O’Farrill’s Paradigm-Shifting Afro-:Latin Jazz at Birdland

The live music meme in New York this summer is bliss. At his relentlessly entertaining show Sunday night at Birdland with his Afro-Latin Jazz Octet, pianist Arturo O’Farrill spoke to the “infinite loop” between musicians and audience, and how crucial that dynamic is for a performer The club wasn’t quite sold out, probably due to the impending storm outside, but you should have heard the thunderous standing ovation at the end of the show. That infinite loop resonated just as powerfully on both ends.

It helps that O’Farrill is a personable guy and loves to engage the crowd, but in a subtly erudite way. Since the 90s, he’s pushed the envelope about as far as anyone can go with what could loosely be called latin jazz, and he dares the listener to think along with him. And the band seemed as amped as he was to interact with everybody who’d come out.

Much as O’Farrill’s music is colorful and picturesque, there’s always a balance between unbridled passion and a zen-like discipline: nobody in this group overplays. At just about any concert, it’s almost inevitable that somebody gets carried away. Not this crew.

They opened with a broodingly Ellingtonian cha-cha and closed with a more exuberant salsa-jazz tune. Right off the bat, O’Farrill was busting loose: he gets all kinds of props as a composer, but we forget what a brilliant pianist he is. Lickety-split spiral staircase elegance, meticulously articulated yet spine-tingling cascades, moonlight sonatas that flashed by in seconds flat, DAMN. He didn’t confine all that to his opening solo, either.

Trumpeter Jim Seeley and trombonist Mariel Bildstein chose their spots, throughout a lot of deceptively sophisticated counterpoint. Whether everybody in the band is consciously aware of it or not, they’re all ultimately part of the rhythm section.

Bassist Bam Bam Rodriguez ranged from undulating grooves, to hazy uneasy, to a ridiculously comedic exchange with the bandleader late in the set. Drummer Vince Cherico is the secret timbalero in this project, particularly with his hypnotic rimshots, woodblock and bell. Conguero Keisel Jimenez had fun taking a turn on the mic for a singalong, clapalong take of the old salsa classic Manteca. His fellow percussionist Carlos Maldonado fueled several upward trajectories with his boomy cajon while tenor saxophonist Ivan Renta ranged from incisive to balmy to taking a carefree turn on flute.

And the compositions were as wide-ranging as anyone could hope for. There was the shapeshifting, chuffing La Llorona, from one of many of O’Farrill’s ballet suites, scheduled for release on album this winter (if there isn’t lockdowner interference). He drew some laughs when he introduced a restless, lustrous jazz waltz arrangement of the old Scottish air She Moves Through the Fair as a shout-out to his heritage (check the last name for validation).

He explained the matter-of-factly crescendoing Compa’Doug as a portrait of two guys out at night raising hell, although the group took their time with the song’s careful, saturnine development before a rather sober evening rolled into the wee hours. El Sur, a Gabriel Alegria tune, wound out expansively from a Peruvian festejo beat to a hypnotically circular, almost qawwali-ish 6/8 groove with punchy incisions from the horns. And O’Farrill warned that his tune Tanguanco – a mashup of tango and a slinky Cuban rhythm – was dangerously sexy, the percussion section anchoring it with a turbulent undercurrent.

O’Farrill and the octet continue their renewed weekly residency at Birdland every Sunday night at 7 PM; cover s $20.