At the Avalanche Bar & Grill 275 8th Street, Courtenay

Thursday, 28th May 2015

Entrance - Members $10 - Non Members $12

Following last week's cool jazz, music at the Avalanche Bar takes a Latin spin when Zandhunga takes the stage at 7:30 pm this Thursday. Always popular (this is a combo which never fails to bring its own fans wherever they may be appearing and this week we're appealing to dancers, as we clear part of the floor); we're looking forward to the excitement these musicians create.

Zanghunga is: Oscar Robles Diaz - congas, timbales, vocals; Britt Bowman - bass, vocals; Kelly Thomas - keyboard, vocals; Jake Masri - trumpet, flugelhorn, and Jeff Agopzowicz - slide trombone. Rachel Fuller, saxophone, makes an appearance as a special guest in this show.

This is a locally-based ensemble that began in Mexico in 2009, at the time with more Latin members than Canadian-born, but now the reverse is the case. Trombonist Jeff Agopsowicz is the most recent addition and has already contributed some of his original compositions to the repertoire. "Having a trombone in the band is pretty essential to salsa music," Britt told me last week. "We were making do as a quartet but were always on the lookout for a trombonist. We couldn't believe our luck when Jeff decided to try out a rehearsal. He already had experience playing with salsa bands in Victoria, and he picked up on what we were doing right away. Sometimes, it really is just about being patient and waiting for the right player to come along."

More specifically, the band's Latin music includes salsa, as well as cha-cha-cha, Latin-jazz, and cumbia. Recently, Zandhunga's focus has been on polishing a high-energy repertoire of salsa dura for those with an insatiable thirst for dance music. Separate from that, the band has also been working on mounting a fully instrumental set of Latin-jazz classics.

Britt continued, "Since its birth in the 1970s, salsa music and dance has gone on to conquer the world. Since it is arguably Latin, it is common for people to make the mistake of thinking salsa was born in Latin America, particularly in Cuba, Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic, as it so clearly has origins from those countries. In fact, salsa was born in New York in the 1970s. American jazz had a significant influence in the birth of salsa, along with Cuban Son Montuno, Puerto Rican Plena and various other traditionally Afro-Latin components."

And the name? Zandhunga -pronounced 'San-DUNE-gah' is a variation of the spelling 'Zandunga' or 'Sandunga'. In Mexico, it is the title of a folkloric dance from Oaxaca, essentially 'the dance of enchantment' as Zandunga is the word for charm or enchantment, and it can mean many things. Colloquially, Zandunga is the equivalent of the word 'salero' or flavour. The legendary queen of salsa, Celia Cruz, was known to shout out the word 'Zandunga' in the middle of a song, adding ever more fire to her band's driving rhythms and energetic performance.

So if you love Latin American music and dancing, this is your night! Admission is $10 and $12 for members and non-members respectively. For more information about the jazz society and its remaining concerts in the current season, find us on Facebook or visit georgiastraightjazz.com straightjazz.com

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