Saturday, October 11, 2008

SALSA...the way WE know it!

One reason I like having Netflix is that I can get jazz videos that would be difficult to find in a mainstream rental store. These are often hit or miss, but this week we found a great one: "Tito Puente: Live in Montreal". This one-hour excerpt of a concert at the Montreal Jazz Festival contains a nice variety of Latin jazz styles. I am no expert of these, but as Tito explains in the bonus interview, his intent is just that you have fun listening.

There's no question that the band is having fun playing the music. The members vary so much in culture, age, and grooming, that it looks like Tito just grabbed a bunch of cats off the street, but the beautiful thing is that they all come together in a tight, intense sound. Tito himself leads the charge, scatting and pounding the timbales and other instruments whose names I don't even know. My son especially enjoyed seeing those.

The film is no piece of artwork, even for 1983, but skill and enthusiasm of the band members makes up for that. Near the end, Tito quips to the audience that to get invited to these festivals, he has to portray his band as a "Latin Jazz Ensemble", but "Now that I got my foot in the door...we're gonna play SALSA! The way WE know it!" The roaring finale of "Pare Cochero" leaves no doubt that Tito's salsa is hot, hot, hot.

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