Cali - Jazz catching on with city modernizations

Just below the constant city construction hammers and dueling radios pulsating the hyperactive city of Santiago de Cali is the new burgeoning Jazz set culture.
No cool code lingo, no clever overthought tunes by under-dressed “hipsters”, or window dressing trios -at least not yet- just good ol’ fashion listening with curiosity, and cheering their mates.
 
Becoming more international – as in, more folks from elsewhere residing there - Cali is enjoying many things that big sister Bogota has garnered for some time.
One of them is international music and arts presentation. The city reflects a multi-ethnic palate of hues and a friendliness only to be outdone by spicy garb for a tropical metropolis.
 
Thanks to an invitation by veteran percussionist Larry Joseph who informed me of the Utopia Jazz festival, which happened just before I arrived in town,
I heard the Punto Baré Big Band.
They managed to gather a crowd at the Punto Baré club to rival the size of the one at the sultry salsa club next door.
 
Jaime Henao (piano/conductor ) has herded a mix of masterful players with strong support musicians.  Superb horn arrangements decorated the classic baby bass – percussion- electric piano sound of New York via Havana.
He conducted a slick theme song, followed by a lush arrangement of Gillespie’s Manteca featuring the brilliant sound of lead trumpeter Diego Giraldo. A post-modern version of Hefti’s Cute, and a sophisticated swaying of the traditional Cumbia La Pollera Coloran, put everyone in debt to their artistry. It was all so impressively commanded by young trap drummer Sebastian Blackburn who’s sound of fury with the slightest effort, and tasty treatment of each genre kept us glued to the stage with anticipation of the next phrase of their cohesive flair.
 
It may take some time for this music to pay for itself in Cali. No cover, no minimum, and the place was packed. But such appreciation of its resident maestros could foster noteworthy adaptations of Jazz as was done with their dancing to the groove of Puente, Palmieri and Cuban Pete.

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