Review: Mongorama Causes a Heatwave in Beverly Hills

Jose Rizo's band performed at the Playboy Jazz Festival free community concert on May 6, 2012.

By Ricky Ricardo
Published on LatinoLA: May 7, 2012

Review: Mongorama Causes a Heatwave in Beverly Hills

The moment everyone has been waiting has finally arrived.The outdoor music concerts/festivals season has begun. The Playboy Jazz Festival Free Community Concert in Beverly Hills kicked started the festival season with an afternoon of Latin Jazz by Jose Rizo's Mongorama and the Beverly Hills High School Jazz Band, directed by Bill Bradbury.

"Our Beverly Hills concert has become a popular kick-off for the annual Playboy Jazz Festival season, and this year's roster of talent promises and delivered a lively afternoon of upbeat jazz entertainment at the Civic Center's attractive performing arts venue in celebration of our 34th Playboy Jazz Festival," stated Richard Rosenzweig, President Emeritus of the Playboy Jazz Festival.

The Beverly Hills High School Jazz Band directed by Bill Bradbury got the program underway on a cool Sunday afternoon.The band performed a variety of jazz music, including blues, swing, rock and Latin. "The Beverly Hills High School Jazz Band reflects the styles and diversity of jazz itself. We are all excited to be a part of this meaningful musical event in our community," stated Bradbury.I overheard members of the audience saying how good this band is as they performed "Hog Swilling, Rip Snorting, Belly Aching Blues," "Moondance by Van Morrison," "Killer Joe," by Bennie Golsen, "Rock It" by Herbie Hancock,"Sway," "Traces" a ballad by Sammy Nestico and "Four" by Miles Davis.I noticed many feet were tapping and bodies were swaying thoughout their set.

It didn't take long for the temperatures to rise at the Beverly Hills Civic Center Plaza. Grammy nominated Jose Rizo's Mongorama caused the atmosphere to sizzle for their set to closed out the festivities. The nine-piece Latin Jazz ensemble celebrates the musical legacy of conga legend Mongo Santamaria by playing much of his early charanga-jazz material from the 1950's & 60's, featuring many of the original compositions he was famous for. Propelled by infectiously danceable rhythms and modern interpretations of charanga and straight-ahead jazz, the group's sounds results in swinging salsa music that found many couple dancing the afternoon away in the aisles.

The band performance set list consisted of "Bacoso," "Palo Mayome," "Asi Es La Vida," "Gaujira at the Blackhawk," "Que Maravilloso," and "Tin Marin." The talented musicians on this gig consisted of Danilo Lozano-flute/Musical Director, Justo Almario-tenor saxophone, Oscar Hernandez-piano, Dayren Santamaria-violin, Alfredo Ortiz-congas, Christian Moraga-timbales, Jonathan Pintoff-bass and Fermin Sinfontes-vocals. The set list featured many tunes from their self titled CD-Mongorama (on Saungu Records). Visit www.saungu.com for more information.

This concert was the first of Playboy's Jazz Festival Free Community events held in conjunction with the upcoming Playboy Jazz Festival,June 16th & 17th at the historic Hollywood Bowl.

For more information regarding the community concert series or the Playboy Jazz Festival,visit www.playboyjazzfestival.com

About Ricky Ricardo:
Ricky Ricardo is a Southern California based writer,music reviewer and photographer with an emphasis on Latin jazz and World music.

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