A Night of Latin Jazz in Hollywood

Ray Carrion & the Latin Jazz All Stars put on a great Tito Puente tribute show with special guest stars

By Frankie Firme - Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: October 3, 2011

A Night of Latin Jazz in Hollywood

More music, more memories, more good times....

Things just keep rolling in the Land of 1000 Dances for the Gente that refuse to get old & stiff sitting on the porch munching nachos, playing with their iPhones, or watching "Dancing With the Stars" on TV while the world continues to turn.

As an Oldies but Goodies, Soul Oldies, and classic R&B music Radio DJ & personality, I sometimes go into different "trips" to keep things fresh, and to discover and learn new things about music.

About a year ago, I got into a D'Jango Reinhardt and early European "Gypsy" Jazz mood, finding some real classic stuff, and meeting some great folks from different parts of the World via the Internet. Did you know that was big in Japan ?

A couple of months ago, I got into a Blues mood, hanging out with the BLUES STRAIGHT UP Band, enjoying their performance at the San Fernando American Legion, picking up some new music, and discovering a great new Blues club in Arcadia, and of course, more good people.

This month, after visiting a Wal-Mart store in Santa Clarita, and a small Mexican Restaurant in Pacoima, where I heard them playing my brother East L.A. Revue DJ CHICO MANQUERO's Latin Jazz show in the store, I got into a Latin Jazz mood.

Comparing his sweet Latin Soul music shows to the irresistible taste, smell, and the "can't have just one" flavor of fresh, warm Mexican sweet bread, I decided to take a bite!

Seems good Latino music always makes you hunger and thirst for a little bit more of life...and a little something to eat, LOL!

So it was, when my friend, famed L.A. guitarist RAY CARRION, invited me & my Lady to a night of live Latin Jazz music and Cuban food in Hollywood for a TITO PUENTE Tribute show, I was there in a heartbeat !

The El Floridita is located on the corner of Vine and Fountain between Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards, in the heart of Hollywood. They have scheduled some nice shows in the coming months.

Anticipating a packed house, we got there early to get a good seat, which was a good idea, 'cause the place got packed to standing room just before showtime.
Food's not bad. (I recommend the shrimp cocktail & aguacate salad)

After a brief introduction, the LATIN JAZZ ALL STARS came out to thundering applause, 11-strong, playing classic and favorite TITO PUENTE songs, one right after the other. The audience was treated to some very impressive solos.

The All Stars include: RAY CARRION on guitar, HARRY KIM on trumpet, ARTURO VELASCO on trombone, GEORGE SHELBY on saxophone, GILBERTO TORRES on flute, GEORGE LOPEZ (not the comedian) on bass, ALBERTO SALAS on keyboards, GEORGE BALMASEDA on vocals, STEVE GUTIERREZ on drums, VICTOR BAEZ on congas, and JOSE " PAPO" RODRIGUEZ on timbales.

Together, this talented ensemble put out some great sounds that had people wishing for a dance floor, as they honored the late, great Tito Puente and his music.

Special guest stars included singer TeCHEETAH LOPEZ, who wowed everyone with the full vocal version of Tito's immortal "Oye Como Va" and other tunes.

Opening the second set, the next guest star was the King of California Latin Jazz, Mr. BOB DeSENA, came out and gave up an exciting set of xylophone, including a heart-pounding solo that drew "Oohs" and "Ahhs" from the crowd as the band followed every beat with zeal and spark, and the crowd was simply seduced into appreciation for the talent on stage on this special night.

Altogether, the performers and the performance was flawless, with Ray Carrion masterfully leading the band of veterans into a truly memorable performance into the night.

I spotted Jimmy Espinosa of THEE MIDNITERS and Rene Flores of THEE MAD LATINS Band chilling in the crowd, and enjoying the music of the night.

Other plans are in the works for more Latin Jazz performances..and you'll be the first to hear about them hear on LatinoLA.com.

Like pan dulce...you just can't get enough of Latin jazz here in the Land of 1000 Dances!....warm, sweet, and making you want more!

About Frankie Firme - Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme is the Al Capone of the microphone and Hitman of West Coast Chicano Soul heard daily on world wide Internet radio station EastLArevue.com
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