By Andy Seccombe
Soft red and lavender lighting gave the Brooklyn Masonic Temple a decidedly sensual feel last night as the Brooklyn Philharmonic kicked off its Nuevo Latino Festival in salsational style.
Amidst the candlelit tables, a troupe of white-shirted musicians emerged in the forefront to the sounds of wood blocks and the thuds of a conga drum. Then, rattles from a chekeré echoed, a wandering guitarist joined the throng and a lone trumpeter appeared on the Temple’s second tier.
The scattered musicians then made their way to the stage, where three violinists and a cello player awaited. It was there that the party really got started as classical strings met with the liveliest of Latin rhythms for two and a half hours of funky, sexy splendor.
Featuring music from Gonzalo Grau and his 12-piece band, La Clava Secreta the evening featured a collection of the group’s Grammy-nominated tunes which spanned Cuban, Venezuelan and Greek traditions as well as smoky jazz, classical, flamenco and funk.
Variety was the key spice of the night as each instrument brought some new and indispensable flavor to the showcase: one moment a saxophone gave the rhythms a hardy push, then a flute piped from the heavens. Next, the plucking of violins met the musings of a trombone, or a piano solo broke out, followed by the groovy utterances of an electric base. It was music characterized by its energy, urgency and escapades – how often do you get the chance to ride a salsa express, mellow out to sultry jazz, then feel like you’re in the middle of string-laden Hitchcockian chase sequence anyway?
And they weren’t even close to being done. Because Greek scatting is the new hip hop, there’s always time for a few Calypso hallelujahs or 4-part harmonies, and a little call and response and some blasts from the brass consistently seal the deal.
Some nights we’re all Latin lovers. Some nights we’re all twenty-one. And it’s always music that makes it so…
Source: New York Press