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Cuban band Septeto Santiaguero packs Club Soda

These heirs to the Buena Vista Social Club are a class act

By Byron Toben

Traquen’Art does it again.

The imaginative arts producer, of which Westmount resident Gabriel Safdie is the President of the Board, sponsored the magnificent one night appearance of Jordi Savall’s Routes of Slavery reviewed here on November last, followed by a later visit by the amazing Flamenco singer Diego El Cigala. Both of these were at the Maison Symphonique.

For a change of pace, the popular Cuban dance band Septeto Santiaguero was booked into the Club Soda on April 7 for its Montreal premiere. It has been described as “the heirs to the Buena Vista Social Club”, a more frequent visitor to Montreal.

The band evolved out of the sounds of Santiago de Cuba, Cuba’s second largest city at its South Eastern tip. Second cities are often crucibles of innovation – witness Chicago, Manchester and Montreal.

This group, started in 1931, specialized in traditional Cuban melodies. In 1995, it was transformed into a more contemporary ensemble that has eight albums and has performed in over thirty countries.

… I was impressed how may ground-floor guests left their tables to dance to the music without respite during the two-hour concert. It resembled a Latin American version of a rave.

Septeto Santiaguero - WestmountMag.ca

Its 2015 album Tributo a los compadres no quiero llanto won that year’s Latin Grammy for Best Traditional Tropical Album.

Seated in the balcony, I was impressed how may ground-floor guests left their tables to dance to the music without respite during the two-hour concert. It resembled a Latin American version of a rave.

Lots of percussion here. The septet actually consisted of nine members – two drummers (one with a large conga drum, one with smaller drums in a batterie), the two main singers wielding castanets and a gourd shaped doodad (a güiro), while backed up by two guitars, a bass and a sole trumpet.

What a pleasure to see all dressed in suit and tie, like the jazz greats of the 50s, showing respect to the music, unlike many unkempt performers today.

Traquen’Art continues to explore world music.
Check out past and future shows at traquenart.ca or 514 396-3388.

Bouton S'inscrire à l'infolettre – WestmountMag.caImage: courtesy of Septeto Santiaguero

Read also: Edith Piaf lives again in Ma vie en rose and black


Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club.

 

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