Tribute To Cachao/Walfredo De Los Reyes at SF Jazz Center

Posted on Jan 20, 2014

Last night, Grammy nominated percussionist/bandleader John Santos pulled off another great all-star tribute at the beautiful SF Jazz Center in San Francisco.  This tribute was to honor the late genius who was instrumental in the development of the descarga, mambo and danzon,  Israel Lopez “Cachao” and the living drum/percussion legend Walfredo De Los Reyes Sr. who also developed the descarga and Cuban Jazz.  The sold out show was divided into two halves: the first set was devoted to the Cuban Danzon, many of which were written by Cachao.  John Santos and his talented sextet made of pianist/trumpeter Marco Diaz, bassist Saul Sierra, drummer David Flores, saxophonist Melecio Magdaluyo and flutist/pianist John Calloway were joined by Cuban master woodwind master Paquito D’ Rivera,  the Cultural Revolution string trio led by violinist Anthony Blea, legendary timbalero Orestes Vilato and conguero Javier Navarette.

What a beautiful set of danzon, strings and swing expertly played by this ensemble.  Rivera was a delight as he balanced his virtuosity with his great sense of humor.  There were plenty of musical fireworks as almost everyone had an opportunity to solo and shine.  The second half of the show was dedicated to the “descarga” or jam session that both Cachao and De Los Reyes were noted pioneers.  The ensemble were cookin’ with explosive fervor with the three horn section of Rivera, Magdaluyo and Calloway.  Walfredo De Los Reyes Sr. joined the band displaying his brilliance on the timbales and trap set especially on his composition “Leche Con Ron”.  If that wasn’t enough, surprise guest, former Santana conguero Raul Rekow brought the house down with a fiery conga solo near the end of the set. All of the participants were at the top of their game playing with passion and displaying their fierce virtuosity.

I’m delighted that SF Jazz continues their commitment to great music thanks to executive director Randall Kline!  Thanks to artistic director John Santos for his enthusiastic vision in planning and presenting this excellent show.