An excellent bill of Afro-Latin music from New York and Madison. Info/tix
The New York City-based band Grupo Rebolu draws on the melodic and rhythmic traditions of Afro-Colombian music—a mix as complex as the migrations, ethnicities, and geographies that shaped it. The core trio of Ronald Polo, Johanna Castañeda, and Morris Canate grew up in different corners of Colombia ( Castañeda in the inland capital of Bogotá, Polo and Canate in Barranquilla, up on the country's Atlantic coast), and in a concert last year at the Kennedy Center the lineup also included six other excellent musicians on brass, percussion, bass, vocals, and guitar. Polo's compositions and his performances on both vocals and a flute called the gaita are a highlight, while Castañeda anchors the group's vocals. Canate leads a fantastically versatile percussion section, steering the band through both insistent, high-tempo dance numbers and equally accomplished slow-burners. . Grupo Rebolu's new album, Tiempos Buenos, is due out later this year. The title translates literally to "good times" or "better times"; the title track and its accompanying video apply that concept to the immigrant experience and the yearning for peace, with a balance of groove and hopeful solemnity. I'm not entirely clear on whether this show at Robinia will feature a big nine-piece lineup, but either way it's worth taking the opportunity to see the band in a relatively small venue. And outdoors, if the weather cooperates.
Madison band Acoplados, who also hold down a Thursday Latin jazz jam and dance night at Robinia, will be playing as one of the support acts here. Acoplados offers its own widely varied cross-section of Afro-Latin music: Percussionist/vocalist Juan Tomás Martínez is of Venezuelan heritage and guitarist Richard Hildner grew up in a Peruvian immigrant household. (Both are actually natives of Madison, and both play in another solid Latin-jazz outfit, Golpe Tierra.) Acoplados started as a duo and has expanded to include an excellent array of brass and percussion players and bassist Nick Moran (also a Peruvian-American Madison native). The other Madison-based outfit opening up here, Son Del Atlantico, will offer its own take on Afro-Colombian music, which also incorporates elements of reggae and funk. —Scott Gordon