Latinos from in and around Los Angeles gathered at the House of Blues on a recent Saturday night to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. The sold-out 4th Annual Cinco de Mayo Latin Jazz Dance Concert featured Johnny Blas, Son Mayor and the Jazz on the Latin Side All Stars.
The evening started off with Johnny Blas warming up the crowd -- literally -- with an outrageous display of shooting flames off of his center-stage timbales. They were quickly cooled off by water that splashed up over his head with every beat of the drum and cymbals.
Next up, the spirited Orquestra Son Mayor, made up of brothers and friends, continued the salsa frenzy with their high-energy tunes and dance moves. The packed crowd couldn?t help but move their feet on the dance floor.
Finally, around midnight, the curtains drew closed and Jose Rizo, KLON on-air personality, stepped out from behind the curtain to announce the upcoming act. For the fourth year in a row, the best Latin Jazz musicians met on one stage. Musical conductor Danilo Lozano led a world-class cast of sixteen including legendary Cuban conguero, Francisco Aguabella; Peruvian drummer Alex Acu?a; Colombian saxaphonist Justo Almario; and Venezuelan-born Robert Incelli; Costa Azul bandleader Freddie Crespo; Ramon Banda of the Banda Brothers; bongocero Joey De Leon, Jr; singer Victor Baez; Rene Camacho on bass; and timbalero Tiki Pasillas.
From the first note, the crowd turned into a sea of dancers moving and shaking across the wooden floor. The band played several salsa and Latin jazz tunes with talented members switching from timbales to vocals, vocals to chekere, and bongos to bell. Fierce solos ensued including an all brass line-up at the edge of the stage driving the crowd wild. At the end, the crowd did not chant for one more, they wanted five more, holding their hands up in the air. The exhausted crowd finally dispersed with exclamations of contentment and laughter, eager for next year?s All Star event.
Yadhira Lozano De Leon:
Yadhira Lozano De Leon is a great aficionado of Latino music and culture and a LatinoLA correspondent.