|Singers (l to r) Lele, Yenny and Mayito.|
Once we received confirmation that Los Van Van were in fact cleared to come to the United States, I made plans with my family and friends to go to Yoshi's on Friday Dec. 10th - and of course ended up going back Sunday night for more! The re-vamped 16-piece (yes, 16!) band barely fit on the uncomfortable and oddly shaped stage, yet their sardine-like formation in no way diminished the power-packed set, to which we danced, swayed and sang-along collectively being the faithful "vanvaneros" we are. Words simply cannot describe the live Los Van Van experience, and even with the absence of iconic figures such as Pedrito Calvo (the one with the hat) and Pupy (César Pedroso, pianist and co-founder who now fronts his own band), the "train" as they are known in Cuba did not disappoint.
|Mara Fox and Wayne Wallace sitting in!|
|Rebeca with Samuel and Maestro Juan Formell|
This being the Bay Area, we also have a number of musicians who - in addition to being die-hard LVV fans - have a deep and long-time relationship with the band. A number (including yours truly) were asked to sit in, including trombonist Wayne Wallace (nominated this year for a Grammy in the Latin Jazz category - congrats!!), trombonist Mara Fox and flautist John Calloway. I myself was pulled up onto the stage at the bequest of Mayito Sunday night for a solo on "Tim Pop con Birdland," and had the time of my life! (See video below.) I heard from Kevin Moore of Timba.com that every late show set was different from the first. To be sure the restrictive nature of Yoshi's 2-show format really doesn't work for Los Van Van's aesthetic. Like I said, their shows are more like rock shows, and a typical set is at least 2 hours! That said, it was still a musical high that the Bay Area won't long forget. Just can't wait to see them again...