November 2007

Giraldo Piloto y Klimax
November 16 & 17, 2007Lula Lounge Toronto
Klimax Spins Out
by Joyce Corbett with photos by Roger Humbert
Giraldo Piloto and his band Klimax are among those rare musicians who have the ability to spin opinions on their heads. That is what I concluded after Klimax’s recent two-night engagement at Lula Lounge. The evidence was clear in the hubbub of the Saturday night show I attended, in statements such as: “People are always talking about timba, I never really got why they thought it was such a big deal; now, I get it.” From another person, “I thought I didn’t like timba but I love this!” Or “I thought timba was more 'pop' but these guys are something else!” Words failed.
Giraldo Piloto
Piloto is a brilliant drummer, an extraordinary and original musician and the band bears his stamp — even this band, which was partly the current Klimax line-up and partly Cuban musicians now residing in Canada, many of whom played with Piloto and/or Klimax in the past. Having heard Klimax a few weeks previously in Cuba I was particularly excited about this show and wondering how this line-up would work out. Just like the Klimax I heard in Cuba, they played sink-your-teeth-in-it, cutting-edge Cuban music with incredible intensity; sophisticated in its complexity, exuberant in its mood, propelled by and enhanced with layers of polyrhythmic ecstasy.

The show started with a modern version of “Y Deja” a song written by Piloto’s father, Giraldo Piloto, Sr., and Alberto Vera who were a hugely popular and successful songwriting team in the 1950s and 60s. Then, it was time for a little cha cha cha with the Tito Puente classic “Oye como va”, Klimax-style. Singer Jesus Cantero Llanes sprang into “Te los marcaron” like a fighting bull out of the gate, loosing lyrics into torrents of rhythms and counter-rhythms with a near-suicidal pace and intensity. It was one false move and you’re dead but there were no false moves, no hiccups, no stumbles.

“La mujer piropo” was a great example of the all-inclusive timba genre. Pan-Caribbean, calypso via Jamaica via Miami with a home in Cuba, semi-rap punctuated by screaming with joy horns, it all went by in a flash. Topping it all off, the set ended with one of the most interesting pieces of the night, “Yo no quiero que mi novia sea religiosa”. Piloto himself started this one off, singing-chanting behind the drums in what sounded like an introduction to a Santeria ceremony that quickly exploded into hard-hitting, irresistible Cuban salsa/timba. One of the singers took over Julio’s place on congas, freeing him to dance the part of the orisha Eleggua, dressed as he was in Eleggua’s colours, red and black. From Eleggua, he moved to the dance of Chango. The whiteness of his hat was suddenly more important. Rumba switched us from the sacred to the profane as a girl in white climbed onto the stage to dance out a contest.

Of course, such a set could not be topped but it was, quite amazingly, matched by the second, leaving us awash in polyrhythmic sensation, solos from all and singing which was as rhythmic as it was melodic. Of course, there was a dance contest with three ladies from the audience but this one held a bit of a surprise, for once the winner was no young girl but a middle-aged woman — people’s choice. The songs were all Piloto’s in this set, from various years — ”La mujer de mi vida”, “Te confunde ser esa mujer”, “Nadie se parece a ti”, “Catarro chino” and “Cuando yo lo quiera”.

This was Piloto and Klimax's second appearance in Canada, the first was in 2004 at the Ottawa Bluesfest. This time it was Toronto and Montreal's turn. The two Toronto shows at Lula Lounge left everyone astonished and hoping they spin back this way in the not-too-distant future. By all reports, the Montreal portion of this tour was also very successful with performances at the Montreal Drum Festival and with the University of Montreal Big Band plus a workshop at KosaMusic. Piloto also led a workshop at Lula Lounge on the Saturday afternoon. Humble, amiable and phenomenally talented he is an excellent teacher. To hear him play alone, up close, is an other-worldly experience.

Jesus Cantero Llanes

Jean Roberto San Cristóbal
Thank you to KosaMusic, to Aldo Mazza, to Dan Mott, Lula Lounge, Latin Percussion, Taye, Sabian, Evans, Regal Tip, Long & McQuade and the University of Montreal for their various roles in bringing Giraldo Piloto and Klimax to Canada.
The Klimax Line-Up For the Lula Lounge Shows
Giraldo Piloto – drums
Yusef Diaz – keyboard
Yandy Martinez – bass
Rafael Zaldívar – piano
Jean Roberto San Cristóbal – percussion set
Julio Lopez – congas
Harvis Cuni – trumpet
Alexis Baro – trumpet
Yosvany Arteaga – sax
Yordan Martinez – trombone
Alberto Alberto – vocalist (Friday night show only)
Adan de Dios Bonne – vocalist
Jesus Cantero Llanes – vocalist
We welcome your comments and feedback
Joyce Corbett
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Roger Humbert
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