It was especially fun to go with someone very familiar with different styles of Latin music. This band is influenced by many styles and does their own thing. It was a lot of fun with good musicians. The piano definitely stood out. The sax was OK, I have to say I didn't really need it. They also had the addition of a female vocalist/piano/keyboard player. I liked her on vocals. She was good.
It was a very good, fun show. If I hadn't seen them last month, I would probably be even more excited about it. However, there was something different that last time - the music possessed me to a greater degree. I had a little more to drink that night, so that could have had something to do with it. It was also their space, and there is something to the energy that a venue absorbs when enough good music infiltrates it. Just think about the NOLA venues.
I'm also not clear Pedro was the conga player I saw that night. If it was 2 different people, both were great.
Overall it was a lot of fun and nice to see them downtown.
The Pedrito Martinez Group
9:30 PM - November 16
Pedrito Martinez on percussion and vocals
Axel Tosca Laugart on keyboard
Ariacne Trujillo on piano and vocals
Alvaro Benavides on electric bass
Jhair Sala on percussion
Luisito Sanchez-Faife on alto sax
Born and raised in Havana, Cuba, Sept 12, 1973, Pedrito Martinez began his musical career at the age of 11, performing as vocalist and percussionist on the Afro Cuban music scene playing with such legends as Tata Guines, Lazaro Roos, Merceditas Valdes, Pancho Quinto, Gregorio (El Goyo) Hernandez, Yoruba Andabo and the great Cuban group, Munequitos de Matanzas.
Pedrito was brought to Canada in 1998 by Jane Bunnett, a Canadian saxophone player, to tour with her group, Spirits of Havana. At this point, Pedrito decided to remain in North America to pursue his career. This was a major turning point for Pedro both personally and musically.
Since settling in New York City in 1998, Pedrito has performed, recorded, and/or toured with Paquito d’Rivera; Brian Lynch; Orlando Ríos “Puntilla”; Steve Turre; Kip Hanrahan and his Deep Rumba project; Sting for his rainforest benefit, with Elton John and Bruce Springsteen; Me’shell Ndege’Ocello; Eddie Palmieri; Bill Summers and Los Hombres Calientes; Arturo “Chico” O’Farrill; Stefon Harris; Bebo Valdés; Dave Samuels; Steve Coleman; Cassandra Wilson; The Conga Kings (Candido Camero, Patato Valdés and Giovanni Hidalgo); Taj Mahal; John Scofield; Randy Brecker; and Dave Murray. He was also featured in the great documentary film on Cuban music, made in 2000, Calle 54.
A project that prominently featured Mr. Martínez in his element, singing, drumming, dancing, and collaborating on original material, was the highly successful, Afro-Cuban/Afro-Beat fusion band,Yerba Buena with which he recorded two albums and toured the world opening for bands including the Dave Matthews Band, Willie Nelson and Ray Charles.
Pedrito has lent his enormous talents to perhaps one hundred records, including albums by Paquito d’Rivera, Issac Delgado, Eliane Elias, Stephan Harris, Steve Turre, Conrad Herwig and many others. These include six records that were Grammy® nominated and one, a collaboration between Eddie Palmieri and Brian Lynch, called “Simpatico”, that was awarded a Grammy®.
In 2005 Pedrito became part of an ensemble that would eventually become his own band. With a home base at a Midtown Manhattan Restaurant, called Guantanamera, they have grown into an extraordinarily tight musical, and creative unit, and have built a fan base that includes musicians like, Steve Gadd, Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton, Taj Mahal, John Scofield, Roger Waters, Lew Soloff, Derrick Trucks, Earth Wind & Fire, Herlin Riley, Ravi Coltrane, Dave Weckl and Will Lee.