March 2005

Adalberto Alvarez y su Son
March 3 – 5, 2005Lula LoungeToronto
If you like Cuban music at all and you weren’t at Lula Lounge for Adalberto Alvarez y su son, you should have been. People were already moving to the music as the first note sounded and when the singers called on the crowd to start clapping, it did. Once started, this band continues in richly layered polyrythmic perpetual motion. The energy spreads from the stage, enters the audience and feeds back and forth. By the end of the night, the revelers were packed tightly around the stage following the singer’s dance instructions: down, up, gyrate, down, up, gyrate, left, right, pivot, left, right, pivot.

Flashing his famous smile, Adalberto leads the band of two trumpets, two trombones, two keyboards, stand-up electric bass, congas, timbales, four singers and a percussion/tres player. He demands perfection. Witness the punitive glare given any band member who sways from this standard, even if the infraction is imperceptible to the audience.

Adalberto is a major figure in Cuban popular music. He has written hundreds of songs in his 30 plus year career. Musicians in countries including the U.S., Venezuela, Columbia, Puerto Rico and Japan have made them the most commonly covered in the son/salsa genre. Adalberto has remained strongly rooted in the traditional ‘son’ style while incorporating electric and brass instruments along with modern influences, and he continues to add fresh young talent to his band. His sound is never harsh or hectic. His style is ever sensual, leaving dancers lots of room to move around in the rhythm. Adalberto’s music just feels good.

Toronto was the last stop on Adalberto Alvarez y su son’s sold-out Europe/Canada tour of 20 cities including Rome, Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen, Zurich and Montreal. Originally billed for two nights at Lula, the response was so overwhelming that a third show was added. Even so, people were being turned away at the door on Saturday night.

To have the opportunity of seeing a musician of Adalberto’s stature with his full band in a club setting is an awesome experience. It’s akin to seeing The Rolling Stones at the Palais Royale.

It is rumoured that due to their enormous success here, Adalberto y su son may be returning to Lula in September, so keep your eye on their schedule. In the meantime, you might want to invest in some salsa lessons. Any plans to just sit and enjoy may change once you’re under Adalberto’s influence.

We welcome your comments and feedback
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Report by Joyce Corbett
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Photographs by Roger Humbert

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