May 2007

Ray Barretto Tribute with Moda Eterna and special guest Ralph Irizarry
May 12, 2007 Lula Lounge Toronto
Que viva la musica!
by Joyce Corbett with photos by Roger Humbert
Thank you Ray, wherever you are. That was the leitmotif of the evening, voiced by the musicians, by the emcee Billy Bryans and echoed by the dancers on the floor. Thanks Ray, for the beautiful music.

Conguero, bandleader and songwriter Ray Barretto passed away only last year, in February of 2006, leaving a significant imprint. Widely known for his work with the famous Fania All Stars, he also played with jazz figures such as Charlie Parker and even ventured into rock with the Rolling Stones. He recorded with Lou Donaldson, Art Blakey, Joe Lovano and Tito Puente to name but a few. His “El Watusi” from 1961 was the first Latin song to make it into the Billboard charts.

If Ray Barretto was listening in on this Saturday night, if he could see the smiles and the crowd, I’m sure he would be smiling too. Luis Orbegoso’s Moda Eterna with Ralph Irizarry did the music and the spirit justice.

The theme of the evening was celebration — celebration of the music, celebration of Lula Lounge’s fifth birthday and well, just plain celebration; like Barretto’s music, a celebration of life.

Fittingly, timbales player Ralph Irizarry was invited up from New York City to play with Moda Eterna in this tribute to the godfather of salsa. Having played Lula’s first anniversary and every year since, Irizarry is referred to as the godfather of Lula. We wondered about rehearsal time as Irizarry had arrived only the previous night but vocalist Juan Carlos Cardenas laughed. Oh yes, he said, we rehearsed before today and then we did rehearse with Ralph but he’s amazing and he recorded half of these songs with Barretto, he doesn’t really need to rehearse.

This eleven-piece band hooked the audience from the very first song with its rich percussion and full complement of horns, the rich vocals of Luis Orbegoso and the harmonies of vocalists Juan Carlos Cardenas and Yani Borrell. The excitement was already palpable and would only build.

The percussion on the second song was absolutely hypnotic, impossibly rich and impossible to escape, seemingly bubbling up from the ground like oil. Alexander Brown’s trumpet floated hauntingly over the layers, uncharacteristically Miles-ian, lending great atmosphere to the jazz-Latin mélange that may have been Barretto’s “Acid”. The general pace of the music on this night was blistering but at one point Sean Bellaviti, who helped Luis Orbegoso put this show together, replaced Roberto Linares Brown at the piano for a beautiful bolero.

Ralph Irizarry

Luis Orbegoso
The night would hear some notable solos, an extended solo from bassist Yoser Rodriguez, a percussive display of discord from pianist Roberto Linares Brown, great excitement from Irizarry’s timbales and well, everyone. But what was most impressive about the band was the intricate mesh of sound they produced, their joy in playing together, the weaving in and out of the instruments, the rhythms and the voices, and also, their rapport with the audience. They played Barretto’s “La Familia” and they were one; and the audience was part of it, the dancers, the listeners and the many musicians who were in the audience. At the end of the night, two of those musicians, Daniel Stone and Mario Del Monte, joined the band on the final tune. I can only say I could have listened longer.

Thank you everyone and — Que viva la musica!

(left to right) Juan Carlos Cardenas, Alex Godinez, Yani Borrell, Luis Orbegoso, Ralph Irizarry,
Roberto Linares Brown & Yoser Rodriguez
Moda Eterna
Luis Orbegoso – bandleader, congas, vocals
Yoser Rodriguez – bass
Alex Godinez – bongos, percussion
Roberto Linares Brown – piano
Alexander Brown – 1st trumpet
Reynier Yary – 2nd trumpet
Yanick Malbeuf – 1st trombone
Yankar Gonsalez – 2nd trombone
Juan Carlos Cardenas – vocals
Yani Borrell – vocals
with special guest
Ralph Irizarry – timbales

guest appearances by
Sean Bellaviti – piano
Daniel Stone – guiro
Mario Del Monte – cowbell

We welcome your comments and feedback
Joyce Corbett
• • • • • •
Roger Humbert
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The Live Music Report

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