In celebration of the upcoming show at Frankie's Jazz Club by Adonis Puentes and his band, Coastal Jazz Media Director John Orysik ruminates on the perennial appeal of Cuba's musical traditions.
Who can resist its powerful rhythms, buoyant melodicism, arresting sensuality and life-affirming joy?
Not many of us. In fact, Cuban music—a rich treasure trove of styles—is one of the most popular genres in the world. Much of the recent fascination is attributable to the extraordinary success of the Buena Vista Social Club. The movie and the subsequent concert tours it generated for talented members—Ibrahim Ferrer, Omara Portuondo, Ruben González and others—drew thousands upon thousands of new and enthusiastic devotees.
Even before the BVSC, artists like Chano Pozo, Mario Bauzá, Machito, Celia Cruz, Mongo Santamaria, Wille Bobo and Irakere featuring Chucho Valdes, Paquito D’Rivera and Arturo Sandoval made a lasting impression on audiences.
Today, add the name Adonis Puentes. Since arriving on our shores (with his fraternal twin Alexis) some 18 years ago, the Victoria, BC-based singer/songwriter has been nominated for a Juno Award and snagged a Grammy Award nomination for his lead vocal work with the nine-piece, LA-based Mongorama. He has toured with Irakere legend Maraca Orland Valle and sang at LA’s Greek Theater, Hollywood B Highland and Lincoln Center, where he shared the stage with Latin music luminary Ruben Blades. He has performed at festivals around the world from Java Jazz in Indonesia to our own TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival.
From beautiful ballads to uptempo groove pieces, Puentes’ rich and mellifluous vocals are a perfect complement to the urgency found in the arrangements of his songs. “Fusion with Cuban roots,” is the descriptor he gave The Globe and Mail.
Check out his two shows at the intimate confines of Frankie’s Jazz Club on September 30 and October 1. Along with tracks from his 2014 Juno-nominated Sabor A Café release, Adonis will introduce some new music from his upcoming album Dicen, produced and arranged by multi Grammy winner Oscar Hernandez of Spanish Harlem Orchestra. His six-piece ensemble features guitar, piano, percussion, bass and horns‑and it smokes! Plus you have his personal guarantee: “My mission in life is to make you have two hours of joy.”