Pacific Mambo Orchestra @ Cocoanut Ballroom - Santa Cruz Boardwalk - Saturday November 8 @ 8:30pm

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Beyond Salsa Piano - Instructional Series
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Peter Maiden - Oakland - Yoshi's - 1/3/13

The Azúcar Quintet with Alexa Weber Morales

The Azúcar Quintet, once called Azúcar y Crema, has been together in one form or another since 1991. The Quintet is made up of all women musicians. They played Yoshi’s Oakland January 3 with special guest vocalist Alexa Weber Morales. They played mostly Latin Jazz, but had the dance floor packed at the end of their show with an extended Salsa jam that started out with Sabor de mí and took flight. 

Pianist Remy Rodríquez made clear how excited she and the others were to play along with Morales on vocals. Morales sings in several languages, she is a sonera, and perhaps because she is a prose writer as well as a singer/songwriter, she talks extemporaneously on the mike with a lot of energy and style.  She has several albums out under her own name, of which I have heard Vagabundeo, which is ambitious and, to my ears, sounds great all the way through.

The Azúcar Quintet’s arrangements of traditional and original songs were carefully executed, and there was comfortable trading off of riffs in the manner of players who have been working together for years. The bassist, Lillie Robinson, not a regular with the Quintet, nevertheless played a beautiful tumbao and was a perfect fit. Percussionists “Suki” Kaye and Judy Graboyes kept the groove happening, sometimes joined by Robin Nzingah Smith on chékere. Yoshi’s booked the band late, but the club filled up, so it was a good bet on their part. Hope to see Azúcar again soon.

The Azúcar Quintet
Remy Rodríquez – piano and percussion
Sue “Suki” Kaye – congas
Judy Graboyes – timbales, bongó, percussion
Robin Nzingah Smith – saxes, flute, chékere
Lillie Robinson – bass
Special Guest:  Alexa Weber Morales – lead vocal

L to R:  Remy Rodriquez, Robin Nzingah Smith, Alexa Morales

The Quintet onstage at Yoshi's

Alexa Morales hits a note, Lillie Robinson on bass

"Suki" Kaye on thumb piano

"Suki" Kaye on Conga

Robin Nzingah Smith showing mastery on reeds

Judy Graboyes on timbales, percussion

Judy Graboyes

Alexa


Lillie Robinson

"Gozando el ritmo" -- Dancers


Alexa Weber Morales in motion

Taking a well-deserved bow after the performance


Tuesday, 08 January 2013, 10:15 PM