Afro Cuban All Stars

 

At the end of an oppressive and sultry summer day, a big-band Cuban consortium doesn't hold the promise of breezy relief. But Juan de Marcos Gonzalez's 17-piece band knew how to keep cool without letting the music drop below simmering.

The venerable septuagenarian bandleader, clad in a shiny suit and beret, squeezed his ensemble onstage before the opening number served as a group introduction. Syncopated rhythms wrought on the clave, congas and timbales lent a heady tempo to a steady stream of brass solos and instrumental showboating.

If the All Stars have lost Ibrahim Ferrer and RubΘn Gonzβles to solo stardom, they have gained a more youthful line-up in the process. David Alfaro's piano shone as he improvised with flair and precision, while Ricardo Mu±oz's agile bass kept the rumba on a firm footing.

Featured singers FΘlix Baloy and Pedro Calvo Rojas swaggered on in dazzling attire and wide-brimmed fedoras, charming the heated audience with Distinto Diferente and the shamelessly suggestive Los Sitios Asere.

The All Stars' flashy and roomy garments embodied their allure. Their Cuban sound is stylish and loose, harking back to tradition for its elegance, peering forward for its design and leaving ample room to manoeuvre.