Singer Caridad Cruz and pianist Miguel Angel de Armas are two Cuban-born musicians who have each considerably enlivened Ottawa's jazz scene in the last few years. Recently they've started performing together occasionally, and their combined energy level gets audiences dancing and clapping.
On a hot, sweaty Monday night in the middle of the July doldrums, they packed the downstairs room at Les Brasseurs du Temps in downtown Gatineau. Their two sets were filled with mostly up-tempo music and a few ballads; Cruz sang eloquently in Spanish, Portuguese, and English, and connected with the audience in a mixture of English and French. De Armas propelled the music; often one song had barely finished before his fingers were dancing into the opening chords of the next.
The audience particularly enjoyed the fiery “Ai Se Eu Te Pego” (aka “Nossa, nossa”) which closed their first set: Cruz got almost the entire room up swaying, clapping, and singing along to the chorus. But my favourite was their unhackneyed version of “Autumn Leaves”, with some of the sharpest-edged piano I've ever heard for that chestnut and a lovely unembellished vocal presentation. They ended with the Cuban classic “Guantanamera”, with de Armas providing strongly accented piano and Cruz again encouraging everyone to make the room ring with the chorus.
– Alayne McGregor