Los Van Van - JVC Jazz Festival 2003

Los Van Van


Carnegie Hall, June 21, 2003:


       At 9:40 P.M. Los Van Van takes the stage. There are four singers and a large band of musicians. The mood is electric and the place is rockin’. People start dancing immediately! Roberto Hernandez, one of the lead singers, calls out each Latin country to evoke a lively response from the sold out audience. The band jumps with excitement. Everyone in the band signals, as the band sound emerges and gains strength, which is incredibly charismatic. The magnificent electric salsa musical sound is cohesive, uniform and ‘fat’. The entire band performs a synchronized dance routine and they segway into, “Timpop con Birdland.” This is a salsa version of the Joe Zawinul composition, “Birdland,” from Weather Report. The strong vocal refrain is syncopated against the hot Latin rhythm. There is a powerful and overwhelming ensemble delivery. The dynamic change is soothing and the four part harmonies are sweet and speak as one. Suddenly the band jumps back into high-energy dynamic musical power and is on fire!


Los Van Van


Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       The next song is super upbeat, showcasing incredible percussive strength. The vocal is light hearted and comical in approach. There is an inspiring lead vocal by, Yeni Valdes, with three-part supporting vocal harmony in the answer/response form. Yeni’s incredibly strong vocal delivery features great story telling that evokes strong emotion and rouses the crowd exceedingly well.


Abel "Lele" Rosales, Yeni Valdes (first female member)


Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       The next arrangement is a sultry and sensuous melodic intro that is dreamy and soothing and somewhat toned-down. The tempo is a moderate Latin groove, showcasing an excellent lead vocal by, Mario “Majito” Rivera. All the vocalists take turns featuring their amazing talents. Mario gets down on his knees for strong emotional effect.


Yeni Valdes, Roberto "Cucurucho" Carlos, Mario "Majito" Rivera, Roberto "Guayacan" Hernandez


Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

      The creative and inventive drummer, Samuel Formell, features the wood block and hi-hat with snare drum rim shots and open/close hi-hat accents. Samuel is the son of bassist and musical director Juan C. Formell, who founded Los Van Van. The place is jumpin’. The people in the side aisles are dancing with joy!


The dancing is contagious...


Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       Song five is very upbeat as the excitement overflows. Carnegie Hall is out of control! There is an amazing drum solo by Samuel Formell showcasing the timbales he has on the left side of his trap set by the hi-hat and wood block.

      By song six the entire place is dancing. It is really too much! Kathy and I are dancing at the edge of the stage. Able “Lele” Rosales jumps off the stage to dance and perform right next to us, amazing!!


Abel "Lele" Rosales


Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       The last song is a quiet love song duet by Yeni and Mario. It is very touching and sincere for a short while, then the band kicks in hard and Carnegie Hall is going WILD!


Jorge Leliebre, Pedro Fajardo, Irving, Roberto Hernandez


Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       Los Van Van puts on an incredible show. Kathy and I are completely blown away. We always come to the Latin Jazz Jam to energize and inspire and tonight we are treated to an amazing display of creativity, excitement and incredible charisma. I have never seen Carnegie Hall go so wild in my entire life, stupendous! Los Van Van is tremendous! 

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A.J. Alfaro