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PRIMERA PLANA - FRONT PAGE
The 13th Annual Chicago International Salsa Congress - Mostly NOT Unlucky
Article by Bill Tilford, all rights reserved
So, we are looking at the 13th anniversary of an event that is also starting on the 13th day of the month (fortunately, not a Friday), and this might have sent many persons scrambling for their rabbit's foot or other special charms, but most of the Chicago International Salsa Congress was superb (we'll get to the exceptions a little later). Click continue reading for more.
Llegó Mayito Rivera
The 2014 SF Salsa Rueda Festival Continues
Mayito and Timbalive with Yussef Breffe at the 2014 SF Salsa Rueda Festival • photo by Tom Ehrlich
Look - nobody loves Los Van Van more than I do, and like most, I was both sad to hear that Mayito had left the group and uncertain that Mayito Rivera would be able to sustain the iconic gravitas of Mayito Van Van. The solo careers of Lele el padre, Israel Sardiñas, Mayito el Flaco, Ángel Bonne and even Pedrito Calvo will always be overshadowed by their work with Formell, but on the strength of this one performance, Mayito has emphatically cast that monkey off his back. It's now clear that Mayito simply had to leave - he's just too much singer to be relegated to two or three songs a night.
Mayito captured and hypnotized a huge crowd of dancers and connoisseurs from the first note and relentlessly pushed them higher and higher for an hour and a half of non-stop tour de force inspiration. He was clearly excited and emotional but he maintained complete control, hitting perfectly intoned, full voice high As and above on every song without faltering.
By the second song, the night's opening coro, Llegó Mayito Rivera had taken on a much deeper meaning. This was not going to be merely a nostalgic look back at Mayito Van Van. It was Mayito Rivera, el Poeta de la Rumba, who had arrived - a new artist - now with the space and freedom to fully express himself with cadenzas, rubato intros, rumba and inspiraciones and to aspire on equal turf to the greatness of his idol Beny Moré.
I had seen flashes of Mayito's improvising in Havana, sitting in with Issac and Bamboleo, but this was 90 minutes of sustained in-the-moment brilliance. When he called for a rumba dancer, SF's own Yussef Breffe was busily taking photos with a large unwieldy camera and before he could put it down, Mayito had invented a coro about the non-sequitur of a rumbero con cámara? As soon as Yussef started to break out his prodigious moves, Mayito changed the coro to suelta la cámara! and the coristas, highlighted by the amazing Yezi González, instantly harmonized it while Mayito tossed off one incredible pregón after then next. The whole night was like this, and the euphoria on Yezi's face was telling. She kept looking over at the trombonistas as if to say "can you freaking believe this?" The whole Timbalive band was grinning from ear to ear and responding spontaneously to each unexpected bit of brilliance from Mayito.
Timbalive plays their own set tonight, Sunday, with more dance performances.
Nick Van Eyck and Serena Wong's Salsa Vale Todo with Yenek and Karelia • photo by Tom Ehrlich
Mayito greeted a crowd that was already high as a kite on the strength of a really tremendous series of dance performances. Festival organizers Nick Van Eyck and Serena Wong got a chance to perform with their famous teachers on an amazingly spliced audio segment that went in and out of Charanga Habanera's epic Tema introducción twice. The choreography of its mind-boggling polyrhythmic bloque was stunning.
Meanwhile, over at the Timbaversity, Roberto Borrell gave a brilliant preview of his upcoming Finding the Clave course and Umi Vaughan was inspiring and thought-provoking as usual as he elaborated on his first two books on batá and timba, and threw out a few teasers about his third - a history of his mother's famous Oakland dance studio. [Kevin Moore]
Click Continue Reading for more great photos. Full galleries coming soon.
Pedrito Calvo Jr. - CUBANEO
New CD soon to be released
Pedrito Calvo Jr. is about to releases his second full-length CD, "CUBANEO". It contains ten tracks which range from salsa to timba to timbaton and even one mambo-son, appropriately titled "Mamboson". The album was recorded in Havana and Italy, and mixed and mastered in Italy. We took the opportunity to ask PC about the new project.
Well CUBANEO comes at a necessary for me, after almost 3 years spent between composition, arrangement, recording in Cuba and Italy, and time mixing and mastering. It's CD designed for various audiences where I enjoy moving from salsa to timba, and also what is called timbaton plus as son with mambo where I have in mind a performance dancing.
You collaborated a lot with Juan Kemell on the CD. In addition to arranging five of the songs and singing coro, he was co-musical producer together with you and Azaris Pijuan. How did the working relationship function?
Look, with Kemell there has been a chemistry since the last record, because his arrangements reflect each note or chord in my mind and he always manages to capture it with his expertise. Kemell also followed much of the recording and mixing process with great professionalism. Azeris Pijuan, bassist and musical director of the orchestra, was involved in Italy with all the putting together of arrangements and the other parts of the recording process. It has been a very good combination that has resulted in the album that I dreamed of.
The single that you have released to DJs is called “Ready Pa’ Mí” and is a timbatón that you recorded with Super Joe El Mayoral. What was it like collaborating on a sing with himl?
The song READY PA 'MI was co-written by Joel Gonzales "EL MAYORAL" and myself. Joelito has a million fresh ideas for good songs and one day commenting on how everything moves around an artist, we started writing the chorus and that's how the whole song arose, then the arrangement and midi+demo was made by Oldrich thinking only about reggaeton. Joe and I proposed to do timba version which is what remained.
Do you notice any differences between the musical preferences of the dancers in Cuba and in various cities in Europe?
Surely everyone has various answers, but from what I have seen, the musical preferences do exist but are reduced more each day, and it may be a small thing, but new technologies (if we think 80-90 years) have helped greatly to further promote our music. The European audiences follow more and more the work of all the artists, and as a consequence, the musical patterns of the fans change more easily. I marvel at how people dance in several European countries, they know the Cuban bands, it is really impressive to see how it is promoted and how they have that unbridled passion.
The official release date may be announced as soon as next week, so stay tuned!
|José Ramón Núñez||2-9|
|Juan Carlos Ávila||7-8|
General Direction: Pedro José Calvo
Musical Production: Juan Kemell, Azaris Pijuan, Pedro José Calvo
Executive Production: Christian Madera
Mayito & Timbalive Tonight @ SF Salsa Rueda Festival!
Mayito Rivera @ SF Salsa Rueda Festival courtesy of Mayito @ Facebook
Mayito Rivera and Timbalive perform tonight at the San Francisco Salsa Rueda Festival. They will play two sets: 10:30-11:30 and 12:00-01:00. The concert will be preceeded by dance performances and DJ Walt Digz will be spinning in between. Click here for the full festival schedule.
Mayito will continue to perform in the US with concerts in New York and again in San Francsico.
February 15, 2014 - San Francisco, CA. - San Francisco Salsa Rueda Festival
February 22, 2014 - Rego Park, NY. - Rumba night club
February 23, 2014 - New York, NY. - Gonzalez y Gonzalez
March 1, 2014 - San Francisco, CA. - Teatro Brava
Click here for the current list of Mayito's concerts in the US and Europe. More updates will be forthcoming so stay tuned.