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Friday, January 15, 2016

Havana Style Cuban Jam Session @ The Jazz Café. January 14

(Review by Russell/photo courtesy of Mike Tilley)
Advertised as a ‘Havana-style Cuban jam session’ this new twice monthly session is in need of a snappier moniker. The first cold blast of winter didn’t auger well. Early signs were that few if any would show up. Havana is more likely than not basking in glorious sunshine, whilst here in Newcastle the thermometer dipped below zero. Three fifths of Tyneside’s Havana Club 5 ignored the chill wind and set about dispelling winter’s worst.
Señor Carlos, Señor Alan and Señor Paul have been playing Latin grooves for years and years resulting in an intuitive understanding of which direction the music will take them and their interaction with the audience makes for a genuine social occasion. Ah, yes, the audience did materialise and they weren’t your regular jazz crowd, they were Tyneside’s Latino diaspora. Carlos Luis Rivera sang several songs, the subject matter seemingly of universal themes; relationships (blossoming/failing), family, community. The Spanish-speaking audience got it, singing along, clapping – a social occasion.
Tula’s Room to jazz-inflected Dr Billy Taylor/Ramsey Lewis territory and back to Cuban rhythms in myriad form. David Gray joined the party and, as ever, entertained with an all action display, leading the Havana boys into Song for My Father. The Jazz Café began to get busy, just in time for the Amazing Latino Dancing Girls. They weren’t known by that name but your correspondent decided on the spot that’s what they were! If Bebop Spoken Here’s editor had been present, he’d have marked this down as Gig of the Year!
Pianist Alan Law took five, encouraging Paul Wilson to play. Initially hesitant, a Ramsey Lewis vibe, in fact it was, more or less, The In Crowd showed that Wilson could play. He could well show-up at next week’s jazz jam session (Tuesday 19), let’s hope he does. As is the way, sometimes one doesn’t get a break. Señor Paul, Paul Grainger worked without a break. Just when he thought he was finished for the night, in walked Paul Gowland. PG said to PG (Grainger to Gowland)…’Fancy a blow?’ Gowland (not long out of a big band rehearsal): ‘Aye, why not?’ Rivera’s partly-dismantled set-up didn’t deter him, choosing to sit down to play. Similarly Gowland remained seated at a front row table to blow some tenor. They played some jazz, prompting the smiling Rivera to implore: ‘Latino! Latino!’ And so it went on. If this inaugural Cuban jam session is anything to go by, it is likely to develop into another of those ‘must-get-to’ sessions. The dates for your new 2016 diary: second and fourth Thursdays in the month. The next one is on January 28, eight o’clock.                                
Russell.
Carlos Luis Rivera (bongos, timbales, cowbell & vocals), Alan Law (piano) & Paul Grainger (double bass) + second set David Gray (trombone) & Paul Wilson (piano) + impromptu third set Paul Gowland (tenor saxophone) + the Amazing Latino Dancing Girls!

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