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The audience kept clapping for Miguel de Armas and Claudia Salguero

Miguel de Armas and Friends, with Claudia Salguero, Sylvio Módolo, and Juan-Luis Vasquez
The Ironstone Grill, The Marshes Golf Club
Friday, November 18, 2016 – 7:30 p.m.

View photos by Brett Delmage of this performance

Two well-known local Latin jazz musicians – pianist Miguel de Armas and vocalist Claudia Salguero – performed together for the first time Friday, to an enthusiastic crowd.

Miguel de Armas and Claudia Salguero created dramatic music that got the audience clapping in their first show together ©2016 Brett Delmage

In two one-hour sets, they played songs from Brazil, Mexico, and Cuba – and some of their favourite American jazz standards as well. Together with Sylvio Módolo on bass and Juan-Luis Vasquez on percussion, they created a warm, lively vibe which kept almost the entire audience intent and smiling – and singing and clapping along at times as well.

De Armas plays many clubs around Ottawa, as well as concerts here and in other cities with his Latin Jazz Quartet. Since January, he has hosted a regular Friday night series at the The Marshes in Kanata, inviting different Ottawa musicians to perform with him – a wide cross-section of some of the best-known names in Ottawa jazz scene.

Salguero, on the other hand, is best known for the large-scale, sold-out shows she's mounted annually at the National Arts Centre, which feature her singing boleros and other Latin American love songs, backed by a band of local Latin musicians in arrangements created by Módolo.

Friday's show opened with the Antonio Carlos Jobim classic, “The Waters of March”, and moved smoothly through a series of songs in Spanish and English, mostly romantic ballads. But there were upbeat numbers, too: “Autumn Leaves” turned into an extended jam, with Salguero's voice swaying over the tight rhythms from piano, bass, and congas, while “Rayito de Luna” was a bright, sunny cha-cha-cha.

Salguero introduced each song, chatted with the audience, and recognized fans in the crowd. By the fourth song of the show (“Dile que por mi o tema”) she already had the audience clapping along to the song's sultry rhythms. She added drama to songs like “La mentira” by singing with her hand on her heart, and to “Dos Gardenias” with outspread arms and pointing finger.

I particularly liked it when she sang a few of her favourite standards in English. “Strangers in the Night” was warm and inviting, while “That's All” was soft and charming, and felt like a benediction on the audience.

“Toda una vida” was a particularly effective collaboration between de Armas and Salguero. He opened the piece with classically-influenced piano which morphed into strong Cuban rhythms. Then she added sweet melancholy vocals, gliding over the strongly accented beat from piano, bass, and congas – an emotionally arresting combination.

Near the end of the night, “Bésame Mucho” grabbed the audience's attention with de Armas' striking piano intro followed by Salguero's sweet and passionate vocals. Partway through the song, the crowd started clapping in time unprompted. It ended with them yelling out “Bésame” in response to de Armas, as the band continued to play with the melody in a prolonged and extended exploration.

The musicians looked at each other – and decided to play one more song. The final tune, “El Manisero”, immediately inspired more clapping in time to its bright, flowing rhythms, and several women got up to dance. By the end, almost everyone in the room was at least moving to the music – and gave the band very strong and extended applause.

Given the standing ovations I've seen at both de Armas' and Salguero's formal concerts, this wasn't totally surprising – but it was a much more spirited response than one usually gets at a restaurant show. This was definitely a collaboration which clicked with the listeners.

    – Alayne McGregor

View photos by Brett Delmage of this performance

Set List

  • Aguas de Marzo
  • Sabor a mi
  • Autumn Leaves
  • Dile que por mi o tema
  • La mentira (Se te olvida)
  • Fenesi
  • Solo yu
  • Adoro
  • Strangers in the night
  • Rayito de Luna
  • That's all
  • No me hables de amor
  • Dos Gardenias
  • Toda una vida
  • Nada de Nieve
  • Piel Canela
  • Fly me to the moon
  • Bésame Mucho
  • El Manisero

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