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Report From Chicago
REPORT FROM CHICAGO
See our Events & Reviews Section for an extensive Calendar of Events that shows what's happening in the Chicago area and within driving distance for Chicagoans. See also our Nuestros Primos Musicales page for other Latin music items of interest that don't quite fit in this section and our Sin Clave No Hay Na' blog for items of national and international interest. (All photos used in this section that are watermarked with the "TIMBA.com" logo are by Bill Tilford unless otherwise specified, all rights reserved.)
2 March 2014
Legal Travel To Cuba
Yes, there are plenty of legal ways to go rather than sneak through Mexico or wherever. They aren't always cheap, but they provide the advantage that there is almost no risk of hassle once you have the license, and you are more likely to have a more culturally focused experience than just walking about on your own unless you already know what you are doing. Especially a good way to go for first-timers to get your bearings. One of the best providers is PlazaCuba, but there is also a local option that does trips that are similar but more abbreviated - Don Skoog's Contemporary Music Project, based locally. They are organizing a trip to Havana called Music, Dance and Cultural Explorations in Cuba from June 20 to 27th, 2014. For more information, visit their website here.
(Photos courtesy 4fantasticevents.com)
We mentioned last week that Rueda is getting some traction in Chicago. One of the best things about it is that it is a little like square dancing - if your partner is really giving you the willies, just wait a few seconds and POOF - he/she is gone (until they come around the circle next time). Now from my point of view, I have been in some places over the years where I wondered whether a better name for some parts of the whole dance scene might be "anti-social dancing", but hey, I'm a musician, not a dancer, what do I know, right? So that being said, you really should learn how to do this if you haven't already. There are a few instructors about, but the scene that seems to have picked up a good number of bodies is the 4 Fantastic Events nights at the Alhambra (alternate Tuesdays) and Dylan's (alternate Fridays). The pictures above are from a Dylan's lesson. I don't normally go this far out of my way to plug dance instruction, but Rueda is important - it's hardly the only way to dance Cuban but maybe the best way to get beginners into the pool. For more information about these sessions, visit 4fantasticevents.com. (And after you have learned, start buying those tickets to see live Cuban music, OK?)
23 February 2014
Although it was not without some sound system and stage management issues with the live bands, the Chicago International Salsa Congress was in every other respect a success. You can read all about it in the SIn Clave No Hay Na blog...
Photo by DJ Prieto of 4 Fantastic Events.
Rueda is starting to get some traction in Chicago. DJ Prieto's 4Fantasticevents is running two regular nights for lessons now - alternate Tuesday nights at the Alhambra Palace and Friday nights at Dylans. This is leading up to what will become a new regular Thursday night event at Alhambra Palace called Havana Nights, which is scheduled to start April 3. We wish this all success - the more people that can dance this music, the more demand that there will be to hear it at venues. For more information about all of the above, visit 4Fantasticevents.com
Tonight (Sunday February 23), you can get your Charanga on at the Cubby Bear (Live Salsa Sundays) with Charangueo.
March will be an exciting month, with the Pedrito Martínez Group (above left) coming to the City Winery for dancers on March 15, and Dos y Mas coming to the Old Town School of Folk Music for Jazz aficionados on March 19. More about both closer to the date (Photos from the respective event websites.)
16 February 2014
CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL SALSA CONGRESS CONCLUDES TONIGHT
The dance demonstrations have been excellent this year - I was especially blown away by two young dance troupes from Cali, Colombia - Son de Luz and Elite Rumba Dance. If all of the dance ensembles out there brought that level of excitement to what they do, I would cover the dance end of things more frequently than I do. You can see a gallery from the first two nights here.
Tonight the Congress concludes with a final dance showcase followed with a concert by Venezuela's Porfi Baloa y Sus Adolescentes. For more details about tonight's performances, see Chicagosalsacongress.com
THIS WEEK: CALJE (CHICAGO AFRO LATIN JAZZ ENSEMBLE) SEXTET
Saturday, February 22, 7:30pm
Freedom Hall, Nathan Manilow Theatre
410 Lakewood Boulevard, Park Forest
This is the Sextet unit of the critically-acclaimed (including by this writer) Chicago Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble, which is led by pianist Darwin Noguera and trumpeter Victor Garcia. Opportunities to catch these two together in the Chicago area are infrequent, so catch them while you can. Guitarist Neal Alger is goinig the group for the show. For more information and tickets, see the Freedom Hall website.
Save the Dates:
Pedrito Martinez Group at City Winery March 15; Dos y Más 9 (Arturo Stable and Elio Villafranca) at Old Town School of Folk Music March 19; Orquesta Aragon at Mayne Stage April 18
13 February 2014
CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL SALSA CONGRESS BEGINS
The Chicago International Salsa Congress begins today - see our February 9 post for details. Additionally, one of the events announced at the press party was that there will be a "dance-off" competition between two Colombian youth dance groups (since they are from Colombia, they are not able to enter the US Open, so there is a special contest for them.). Here are some photos from last night's press party:
Rosita Ragin and Saladeen Alameen
Official Atwork for the CISC
See the February 9 post for more details and the CISC website at Chicagosalsacongress.com
9 February 2014
The Chicago International Salsa Congress Hyatt Regency O'Hare
Chicago IL, February 13-16, 2014
This is an International Congress, so unlike the San Fransisco event, which heavily emphasizes Rueda and the genres of Cuban music suited to it, the CISC is focused on Salsa but does include a Cuban component this year with the Cachao Mambo All-Star Orchestra, which played a very well-received segment at last year's Festival Cubano in Chicago. Depending upon what date one uses to mark its official beginning, 2014 brings us the 75th anniversary of the Machito Orchestra (known also as
Machito and his Afro Cubans in the early years), one of the most important bands in the United States that brought the Mambo to wider audiences for decades. The late, great Cachao (Israel Lopez) composed (along with his brother Orestes) the very first song recorded as Mambo in the 1930s. SO, this is a fitting year to feature the all star orchestra that carries on Cachao's legacy. Moncho Rivera is the nephew of Ismael Rivera and Ray De La Paz has worked with a number of groups over the last 3 decades including the Spanish Harlem Orchestra and Ray Barretto. Porfi Baloa y sus Adolescentes is a Venezuelan Salsa band. The congress isn't just about concerts however - there are workshops throughout along with exhibition dancing. See the website Chicagosalsacongress.com for more details.
If you aren't doing the Congress, there are are lot of good Plan Bs this week - see our Calendar of Events for details. Special mention goes to Sureya, who is back at Candela on the 15th.
2 February 2014
For those of you living without electricity, San Francisco's Pacific Mambo Orchestra won the GRAMMY for Best Tropical Latin Album, and Paquito's album Song For Maura won the Latin Jazz category. It is unfortunate that the network chooses not to mention this in the big broadcast, but the Recording Academy does officially present those awards in a pre-broadcast ceremony.
The Chicago International Salsa Congress Hyatt Regency O'Hare
Chicago IL, February 13-16, 2014
This is an International Congress, so unlike the San Fransisco event, which heavilty emphasizes Rueda and the genres of Cuban music suited to it, the CISC is focused on Salsa but does include a Cuban component this year with the Cachao Mambo All-Star Orchestra, which played a very well-received segment at last year's Festival Cubano in Chicago. Depending upon what date one uses to mark its official beginning, 2014 brings us the 75th anniversary of the Machito Orchestra (known also as Machito and his Afro Cubans in the early years), one of the most important bands in the United States that brought the Mambo to wider audiences. The late, great Cachao (Israel Lopez) composed (along with his brother Orestes) the very first song recorded as Mambo in the 1930s. SO, this is a fitting year to feature the all star orchestra that carries on Cachao's legacy. The Congress isn't just about concerts however - there are workshops throughout along with exhibition dancing. See the website Chicagosalsacongress.com for more details.
COMING IN MARCH:
Pedrito Martinez Group,
City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph,
Chicago IL, Friday, March 15, 2014 8pm
For hard-core fans of Timba music, this is practically a mandatory concert. For those of you unfamiliar with the group, we are including a video taste. For more information and tickets, see the City Winery's web page
for the event.
26 January 2014:
GRAMMY Day! The interesting categories for us are Latin Jazz, where Cubans Omar Sosa and Roberto Fonseca along with Cuban-American Paquito d'Rivera have a shot at the award for Best Latin Jazz Album. In the Best Tropical category, San Francisco's Pacific Mambo Orchestra has a shot.
Out and about........ We caught Sureya Saturday night (well, technically early Sunday morning) at a new restaurant/nightclub, Candela Latin Cuisine & Bar. Sureya put on a fine show as usual (DJ Fernando Cubanmix was also at the turntable), and welcome Candela to the wonderful but challenging world of Chicago's Latin nightlife. We have a capsule review of the club in our Restaurants With La Música section.
That'll be $50.00, Fernando. No, but seriously, one of the few DJs in the area that spins a lot of Timba, so we'll show you his face here.
19 January 2014:
A lot of good music is happening in Chicago this week, but we are going to give special mention here to our resident Cuban diva Sureya, who will be performing at Candela Latin Cuisine & Bar, 2451 N. Milwaukee Av., Chicago IL 60618, which we understand to be a relative newcomer to the live music scene in the city, on Saturday the 25th. Additionally, DJ Fernando Cubanmix, one of the few DJs in the city who spins a healthy dose of real Timba, will be at the turntable.
12 January 2014:
ORQUESTA ARAGÓN at the MAYNE STAGE
FRIDAY, APRIL 18, 2014, 7:30 & 10:00 PM
Yes, Orquesta Aragon has been around even longer than I have (seven decades plus), but like the Son, the Charanga format is a living, breathing, adaptable thing, and they never sound like a museum band. For more information, see the Mayne Stage web page for the event.
Speaking of charangas, Chicago's own Charangueo has two nights this week - see our Calendar of Events page for details.
5 January 2014:
If you have any interest in Jazz, you should check out our article about Havana's Jazz festival here. Locally, it appears that the folks at 4 Fantastic Events are working diligently to help stimulate interest in Rueda with classes on Tuesday at the Alhambra and Friday at Dylans. Good for them!
(See the RFC Archive for earlier posts)