Lucid Culture


Nino Segarra y Su Orquesta Tear It Up Downtown

Nino Segarra may have been big in Puerto Rico in the 80s and 90s but the sound of his big ten-piece salsa band tonight downtown at Wagner Park was straight out of the Fania era. As unexpectedly pleasant as the breeze off the water was while the sun went down behind the clouds, it was obviously hot up on the trailer where the band was playing – this may have been salsa romantica, but as Segarra reminded the crowd more than once, it was definitely sabrosa. With the trombones blazing, the three-piece percussion section rattled and pounded, conjuring up the ghosts of salsa bands past and if those ghosts had been visible, they most certainly would have been dancing. Segarra ran the show James Brown style, counting off the songs briskly: as much as the band (especially the piano player) messed around between songs, they pounced when he gave the signal. The summertime concerts downtown all have themes: the biggest names at Rockefeller Park, trendoid rock at South Street Seaport, with Americana and latin music tucked north of the  Battery in Wagner Park and interestingly, this is where they hide their best sound system. The bass was absolutely booming and so was the baritone sax, particularly during the big, tensely cinematic intro to the salsa anthem Entre la Espada y la Pared.

This was definitely the greatest-hits set. They opened with a couple of big ones: Eres la Unica benefited mightily from the raw, vintage latin jazz-tinged arrangement, as did Esa Mujer (dedicated to all the ladies in the crowd, no surprise). The biggest hit with the crowd was a long Como Amigo Si, Como Amante No, giving voice to a genuine sense of frustration and spiced by a slowly crescendoing tidal wave of a piano solo. Despues de ti que started more quietly, with a plaintive, Dave Valentin-flavored flute solo to kick it off, but built to similarly passionate heights. A more vintage-style number that sounded straight out of the Tito Puente catalog bounced along on a slinky son rhythm. They closed with a homage to Segarra’s native Puerto Rico that put the rhum in rhumba, with blistering solos from bongos, congas and the timbalero, who’d been red-hot all night and made the most of the opportunity with a sizzling, explosive volley of beats. After that, there was no room to take it any higher, and at the end both the band and the casual afterwork crowd took their time disappearing into the evening.

August 11, 2010 Posted by | concert, latin music, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment