Sol y Canto at Satalla

Sol y Canto

 

Satalla, The Temple of World Music, March 19, 2004:

 

       Kathy and I go into Manhattan to see our dearest friends Rosi and Brian Amador and their fabulous group of talented musicians, Sol y Canto. They are performing at Satalla, which is located at 37 West 26th Street, between 6th & Broadway. Tonight will be a very special evening as Rosi will dedicate the show to her loving mother Josephine Straijer, who has just passed.  Her stage name was Josephine Del Mar. From all accounts, she was an extraordinary dancer, actress and singer. She had her own television show in Puerto Rico and also starred in movies in Mexico for years. Josephine was born in New York City, which she regarded so very dearly.

    

Josephine Del Mar

    

Photo: Rosi Amador (family collection)

       Several hours before show time, we meet Rosi, Brian, Carlos and Nando at the club. We embrace Rosi and Brian and express our deepest condolences to Rosi. We help carry the equipment inside and soon meet Aquiles Baez, who will join the musical entourage to fondly remember, and pay respect to, Josephine. We get the unique opportunity to see many great old photographs of Josephine Del Mar, the multi-talented entertainer, in the 1950s. Rosi exercises her voice, as Brian warms up his fingers with the whole-tone scale.  The band warms up together. The vocal blend is magnificent. The band jells immediately. Kathy and I enjoy a tremendous dinner, as the food and service are fantastic. Brian gets a few minutes to sit and talk and take a few great photos with Kathy and I.

    

Brian and Kathy

    

Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       The show begins at 8:20 P.M. The opening tune, “Obsesion,” is slow and sincere. There is an immediate blend of vocals, melodies and caressing and soothing rhythms. The next composition, “Azucar de cana,” is a gorgeous and touching tribute to Rosi’s mother. The musical mood is lively and upbeat, with distinctively rich percussion accompaniment. For this number, there are four percussionists and it features dual cowbells. Rosi’s sustained, percussive and melodic vocals are showcased. Brian cleverly weaves Flamenco rhythms as Arturo cuts through on congas. “La fiesta del tren,” which means “The Train Party,” is a lively calypso song about their home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Whenever the train goes by, it makes everything shake and dance. The musical mood is a happy, upbeat and conveys an invigorating and joyful event. Jon Weeks’ alto saxophone complements the ensemble with excellent and tasteful accompaniment.

    

Sol y Canto

    

Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       One of my favorite songs, “Arco iris,” is next. This is a lullaby to their darling twin daughters, Alisa and Sonia. The translated essence of the song is, “Rainbow, where do you sleep?” Rosi’s vocal is soothing, caressing, touching and sensitive. Brian’s vocal delivery is a silhouette of harmonic bliss; nicely controlled with a quiet, delicate touch. Arturo is excellent on bongos. Nando Michelin complements this music extremely well with articulate piano accompaniment. “Ocarina,” features Alan del Castillo on ocarina in a touching vocal duet with Rosi. They combine into a beautiful consonant blend. The sound is mysterious, ethereal and captivating. There is a stark and simple musical presentation with Brian’s acoustic guitar, ocarina, and Rosi on percussive gathered shells.

    

Rosi and Alan

    

Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       “Tonada del luna llena” is next and it is dedicated to Raphael. Brian is outstanding on melodic acoustic guitar and showcases Alan on vocals. The musical presentation is quiet, thoughtful, delicate and sincere. Rosi’s vocal is gorgeous, clear, tasteful and eloquent. There is a colorful three-part harmony counterpoint and an absolutely flawless vocal blend. “Fantasma” or “Ghost” follows next, featuring a tremendous acoustic guitar intro by Brian. He performs elegant chord and melodic accompaniment to Rosi’s rich and sincere vocal delivery. There is superior conga and bass accompaniment after an initial solo verse, YES!

    

Rosi Amador

    

Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       “La colmena,” which means, “The Hive,” is next. This has an upbeat tempo with an ethereal chord structure. The shaker is predominately featured. Aquiles Baez is featured on tres. This is a political commentary on Donald Rumsfield and President Bush. Jon Weeks’ flute solo excellent. The congas are hot and Rosi is cracking that cowbell. Excellent bass and acoustic piano fill out a great arrangement. Jon complements the sound further with a tremendous alto sax solo. The next composition, “Cap ullito aleli,” features Aquiles Baez who hails from Venezuela. This lively calypso is bright, happy, staccato and succinct. The bass solo is outstanding as Carlos Del Pino runs up and down the fret board effortlessly, what chops! Aquiles’ tres solo is excellent. The flute solo is brightly dancing and takes flight above the creative melodic development below.

    

Aquiles Baez

    

Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       Rosi and Brian take a few moments to introduce the octet:

Jon Weeks – flute; alto, tenor and baritone saxophones

Nando Michelin – piano and keyboards

Carlos Del Pino – bass

Arturo Stable – congas, caja, vocals

Dr. Alan del Castillo – ocarinas, quena, small percussion, vocals

Brian Amador – guitar, vocals

Rosi Amador – vocals, bongos, small percussion

Special guest: Aquiles Baez – Cuban “tres,” percussion

    

Sol y Canto

    

Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       The next song is, “Arnoz integral.” This music is lively and spirited. The band is hot! Aquiles’ tres solo is amazing. The percussion is outstanding and Brian’s guitar work is something to behold. The piano solo is articulate, melodic, rhythmically dynamic and inventive. Rosi is a creatively precise machine on cowbell, holding all the polyrhythmic ingenuity together in one strong focal point. Carlos’s bass solo is rhythmically intricate and melodically challenging. Arturo’s conga solo displays his percussive virtuosity. Rosi showcases her excellent percussive technique on bongos. She has a delicate and intuitive touch and demonstrates a seasoned use of rests for rhythmic emphasis and space. The alto solo is furious, expressive and fluid. The band takes a break. The Doctors for Global Health organization gives a special presentation. This concert supports all their untiring efforts worldwide. This is a tremendous organization with extremely knowledgeable and dedicated people throughout the entire enterprise.

 

    

Brian Amador

    

Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       The second set starts with “ Recipe for Brown Rice,” or “Receta.” This is a clever and distinctive arrangement. The next song is “En todo momento.” The song is happy and conveys a clearly unique musical message. Brian’s lead vocal presentation is excellent. The tune is upbeat, bright and melodic. Rosi’s vocal is robust. The bass is resounding. Alan’s wood flute is beautiful and melodic. The next song is, “Semanario del primer beso,” which means “Weekiversary of the First Kiss.” An enticing two-part vocal harmony intro precedes an outstanding soprano saxophone passage. Aquiles is excellent on tres and Arturo’s conga work is distinctively powerful. The piano accompaniment is lively and enchanting.

    

Arturo Stable

    

Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       The next composition, “Quiereme mucho” means, “Love Me Very Much.” This is a very lively and uplifting calypso jump that showcases beautiful acoustic guitar and delicious three part vocal harmony. The ensemble speaks in one voice. The blend is perfect. The alto sax solo is succinct, rhythmically thoughtful and delicate. The next composition, “Gracias a la vida,” is another one of my favorites. This is a beautiful ballad featuring the silky and sublime vocal delivery of Rosi Amador. Brian’s outstanding guitar work and marvelous vocal harmony fully complements the beautiful message the music clearly conveys. The closing song is, “Que bonita luna.” This number is very upbeat with a seriously challenging melodic lead by Brian. This is an exceedingly tight ensemble arrangement. The alto accompaniment is very impressive and Arturo cuts through the creative coloring book of sonance with exceptional conga playing. Alan complements the music on guiro, as Jon takes another standout alto solo. A final percussion solo features the entire band. Everyone joins into a polyrhythmic paradise. The acoustic guitar and alto sax play a unison melody line that is simply fantastic.

    

Rosi Amador

    

Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       Sol y Canto puts on a magnificent show tonight. As a fitting tribute to Rosi’s mother, Josephine, the ensemble playing is tremendously uplifting and heartfelt. Rosi’s stellar performance is a tribute to the love, passion and devotion her mother passed on to her and lives on through her. Sol y Canto is a musical experience not to be missed. The notably exceptional musicianship, which is displayed at each concert event, is only eclipsed by the true enthusiasm and dedication to convey a genuine musical message in each glorious song.

    

Josephine Del Mar

    

Photo: Rosi Amador (family collection)

       Thanks to Rosi and Brian, and all the gifted musicians, for allowing us to embrace the musical experience that you collectively expound in every way!

       Gracias!!!

    

Rosi and Jeff

    

Photo: ©Kathy Alfaro


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A.J. Alfaro

and.the.beat.goes.on@worldnet.att.net