The Dragon's Den

February 19, 2005

Chango played enjoyable Latin music at The Dragon's Den Saturday night. The band was led by Cuban percussionist Hector Gallardo, who is New Orleans' foremost teacher of the many different rudiments in Cuban music rhythms. Timbales and cymbal player Gallardo was joined by trumpeter Omar Ramirez, bassist Sam Price, trumbonist Brian O'Neill, pianist Hugo Sanchez, tumba dora(many call them congas) player Dongo, Gabriel Velasco on bongos and bell, and a tres guitarist/vocalist. The tres guitar looks like an acoustic guitar, but it has nine strings.

Chango played Cuban dance and Folk music full of complicated, syncopated rhythms. Velasco provided counterpoint to Dongo and Gallardo throughout the set. Dongo and Gallardo also played against each other. Still with me?

Chango performed a mix of Salsa and Son, which was chant-oriented and focused on the guitarist/vocalist. Gallardo incorporated three principal sub-styles into the music:

1. Comparsa was Cuban carnival music.
2. They played the Rumba most often. They also performed Guaguanco, which is a provocative, faster offset of Rumba.
3. Cumbia was Folk music in 4/4. It's the music that bus drivers all over South America play to keep awake, according to

Good thing I didn't have to take a test on this stuff before I danced to it. It was fun, good music. Chango smiled as they performed, and the audience was quick to give them applause. Considering the quality of the band, there should have been more people at the show.

The little things were neat. During one song Ramirez played a solo line for a measure before the musicians came back together as a whole. Then, O'Neill played the same line, and the musicians joined together again. This repeated itself for a while. It wasn't a difficult concept, but it was a small thing that kept Chango's music interesting and fresh throughout the set.

It was pleasure to watch Gallardo float around his timbales during a solo.

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