December 13, 2012 at 8:52 PM
New Orleans’ Latin Jazz Festival will heat up the holidays on December 21 (7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.) with a string of free performances at Casa Borrega, 1719 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard. I’m stoked about the festival’s strong local lineup, which includes guitar wizard Steve Masakowski with Mas Mamones, the Alexey Marti Quintet, and a rare, all-Latin set by the Iguanas. Besides, my appetite for all-things-Latin also was whetted by some recent performances in New Orleans.
First, there was a visit by Cuban keyboard titan Chucho Valdes --- a show that opened with a blazing performance by Marti, a young Cuban percussionist who now lives in New Orleans. Then came Ballet Hispanico, the electrifying New York troupe that rocked local dance fans with help from the Grammy-winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra. (Snug Harbor offered a lagniappe from Orchestra leader Arturo O’Farrill, who brought a trio to the venerable Frenchmen Street club).
If those shows put you in a mood to dance, the Latin Jazz Fest at Casa Borrega should satisfy. The Iguanas, for example, plan to connect the dots between the music of Mexico and the group’s familiar Louisiana repertoire. Joe Cabral, the Iguanas’ saxophone player, described the link in press material from festival organizers: “Some of the genres we play, such as the polka (in its traditional Northern Mexico form), are easily compared to the sounds of Louisiana because they are similar in structure, content and cadence to zydeco and other variations of Cajun. Instruments like the accordion make the relationship even more obvious.”
For details about the Fest, visit the Casa Borrega facebook page or call 504.292.3705