February 2007

A diario
February 23, 2007 Lula Lounge Toronto
Hot Telmary!
The Cuban rapper & singer who’s got next and then some
by Sebastian Cook with photo by Roger Humbert
Every once in a while, we are fortunate to witness artists who change our perceptions of what a certain style or genre of music represents. And we experience the satisfaction of knowing we’ve seen someone who was destined for huge things. Such was the case for myself this past Friday night at Lula Lounge with Cuba’s finest female rapper Telmary — and even more so after a listen to her astonishing CD A diario.

Telmary is a woman with instantly captivating stage presence, reminiscent of Erykah Badu in her white headdress, with an alto voice that shifts effortlessly from attack-the-mic battle-rap mode to sweetly resonant, nuanced and soulful. Her band on this night began in 9-piece mode and grew to 10; playing together for the first time. The rhythm section of drummer Frank Duran and electric bass phenomenon Juan Pablo Dominguez impressed straight off the mark, heading a heavy Afro-Cuban tribal charge to start the show. Despite being bothered by microphone-cable related stress for the first set, Telmary and her band captured and riveted the energy of the steadily building crowd.

It was during the second set, when the three horns were actually audible, that the spirit of Telmary truly jumped off the stage. The whole band was grinning from ear to ear as they shape-shifted through salsa to mambo to rumba, from free jazz and funk to swing to Motown. Particularly memorable was “Rastafashion” breaking down into the refrain from “I Just Want to Celebrate” in a hip-hop vocal tempo. Towards the end, salsa singer Alberto Alberto joined her for a couple of memorable tunes, his large and gregarious presence such a complement to Telmary — slight and wiry yet strong enough to channel the machismo in the right direction.

Whether you wanted to dance, listen to the flow or nod your head, Telmary’s show had it all. This was the new sound of Cuba, raw and ready to be heard. More in the CD review

In a truly ironic sidebar, my mother and sister left for Cuba within an hour of my arriving home after the show. The beach sounds nice right after a blizzard, but at least Cuba came here. And I can crank the stereo…

The musicians
Telmary Diaz – vocals & rapping
Frank Duran – drums
Luis Guerra – piano
Juan Pablo Dominguez – bass
Jorge Maza – flute and sax
Kervin Barreto: trumpet
Yankar Gonsalez – trombone
Zulama Clas – backing vocals
Daniel Stone – percussion
Ahmed Mitchel – percussion
Alberto Alberto – guest vocalist
We welcome your comments and feedback
Sebastian Cook
• • • • • •
Roger Humbert
• •
The Live Music Report

| Home | Archives | CD Reviews | Photo Galleries | Concert Listings | Contact |

Please contact us to secure permission for use of any material found on this website.
© The Live Music Report – 2007