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Peter Maiden - Vissión Latina
VL Trio’s Tradicionando is a collection of classic songs from the Cuban and Puerto Rican songbooks. It is immediately clear to the listener that there is a mastery of tradition here; there are also strands of innovation. Each of the three musicians is a virtuoso, by virtue of their talent and devotion to study. Aside from formal education, they spent countless hours on Salsa, Timba and Latin Jazz bandstands in the San Francisco Bay Area over the years, where they experimented and improvised with a host of local and international musicians.
VL Trio comes out of the band Vissión Latina, which released two CDs in the last eight years that were among the best Bay Area Latin dance albums. The Trio is the heart of Vissión Latina, comprised of Carlos Caro (percussion), Maro Díaz (piano) and Saúl Sierra (bass). Caro comes from Havana, where he started his career in Paulito F.G.’s band, Sierra comes from México D.F., and Díaz is a San Francisco native.
On the album, the three all sing coros while they play, giving the songs a vocal dimension which is unusual in the trio format, and which gives the songs more warmth. You will likely recognize some of the pieces, at least "Chan Chan," if not "Lágrimas Negras" or "Son de la Loma." If you are a music fan from Cuba or Puerto Rico, you probably know all of them, the way North Americans know "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," or "Summertime." The approach of VL Trio, however, is fresh. Each of the musicians is given room to show the best of their playing, and it is indeed very good. Tradicionando takes the Vissión Latina concept to an entirely new level—one that you will want to hear for yourself.
VL Trio played at Palo Alto World Music Day on June 17 to a small, fortunate crowd in front of a modern furniture store. I took the pictures you see here during the course of their performance.
Carlos Caro, Percussion for VL Trio
A couple dances, the Trio is in the background
Saúl Sierra, bass for VL Trio
The Trio sings coro on one of their songs. They sing comfortably while playing their instruments.
Marco Díaz on Piano for VL Trio