Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: Quimbombo at Stuyvesant High School Auditorium, NYC 7/29/09

Quimbombo is a Cuban stew and also the title of a famous Cuban son dance number from the 1950s. This particular Quimbombo is similarly sabroso (tasty). With two guitars, fretless bass, trumpet, sax and a literal herd of percussionists on everything from congas to timbales to campana, cajon and bass drum, they play son, the precursor of salsa that took root in 1930s Cuba and was repopularized sixty years later by the Buena Vista Social Club. The way this band plays it, it sounds like salsa but with guitar in place of the piano. As their show Wednesday night – moved indoors because of the rain – proved, they’re ecstatically good at it. Sitting and watching them rumble and rhumba through one hypnotic groove after another was viscerally uncomfortable – the body unconsciously starts to sway, it wants to get up and dance!

Their set mixed classics along with originals from their most recent cd Conga Electrica. Their first number set the tone for the night with a long, crescendoing guitar duel, David Oquendo’s incisive electric nylon-string chords trading off with the acoustic player’s gorgeously steely, ringing tones. They followed that with a swaying ballad, Cuando Tu Vayas A Oriente (When You Go East) and then Con El Trapo Rojo (With the Red Flag – a bullfighting reference), building from an ecstatic percussion intro with booming bass drum to a hypnotic verse with electric guitar and then finally a long, trance-inducing one-chord jam out. This could be the band’s theme song – or one of them anyway, considering how often they manage to namecheck themselves when there’s room.

Que Me Importa A Mi (What Do I Care) scampered along playfully with chorus-box electric guitar; the next tune went on hypnotically for what seemed at least ten minutes, highlighted by a strikingly murky flute solo, not what you would expect from an instrument with such a high register. By the time they got to their gorgeously ringing signature song – a hit for legendary Cuban pianist Luis “Lili” Martinez – there was finally some movement toward the back of the auditorium. There’s no sitting still to stuff like this.

July 30, 2009 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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