Rhythm Planet Recommends: Best of June Concerts

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Cuban group Los Van Van Photo courtesy of the artists

Sundays, June 2, 9, 16, 30 | Jazz Está Muerto | Lodge Room (Highland Park)

Five top Brazilian musicians perform throughout the month of June, including jazz-funk group Azymuth, pianists João Donato and Arthur Verocai, Liminha (from Tropicalia’s Os Mutantes), and singer/songwriter Marcos Valle. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Listen to Marcos Valle’s song “Alma” below. Valle’s career has been revived over the past few years outside of Brazil by recordings on the U.K. Far Out label. Its easy swing and smooth-jazz feel has brought him even more fans than during his early years. 

Bossanova superstar João Donato has been performing for something like 50 years. Although he used to live in L.A. in the 1970’s, he rarely visits now, so this is a great opportunity to see this Rio legend perform here.

Sunday, June 9 | Festa Junina / Brazilian Country Festival | Rancho Cordillera del Norte (Northridge)

Brazilian music fans can also enjoy a Brazilian Country Party in June—Festa Junina, featuring performances by Grupo Fundo de Quintal - Samba (samba), MôForró (forró) and DJ Reyes RodríguezFesta Junina brings the best of Brazil’s country festivals to Los Angeles area, with an afternoon filled with Brazilian music, authentic Brazilian food, dance, and more for the whole family. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Sample the energetic, party music from Grupo Fundo de Quintal-Samba:

Thursday & Friday, June 13 & 14 | Bob Sheppard Quartet | Sam First Bar (near LAX)

Bob Sheppard is one of our greatest sax players, and on these two dates in the intimate setting of Sam First Bar he’s joined by pianist John BeasleyAlex Boneham on bass, and Christian Euman on drums. I’ve been Sheppard's fan for a long time—for his virtuosic soloing and a fabulous technique that is the envy of any young horn player. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Watch Sheppard play the Oliver Nelson classic “Stolen Moments”:

Saturday, June 15 | Fabian Almazan Trio | bluewhale (Downtown)

Fabian Almazan is a talented, young, high-energy Cuban pianist destined to join the ranks of established Cuban superstars like Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Chucho Valdes. Bassist Linda Oh and drummer Henry Cole round out the trio for this upcoming bluewhale show. Almazan most likely will feature music from his new album, This Land Abounds with Life, a somewhat convoluted love letter to his native land. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Here’s the track “Benjamin” from Almzan’s new album:

Sunday, June 16 | Boleros de Noche: Boleros de Cuba y México | Downey Theatre (Downey)

Cuban singer Lily Hernandez and Mexican-American singer Julian Torres co-headline a special night of both Cuban and Mexican boleros—love songs prized for their emotional expressiveness and feeling. Cuba and Mexico have a long history together of shared musical DNA. Hernandez and Torres will perform separate sets in this spirited and unusual show. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Lily Hernandez at Catalina Bar & Grill with pianist Oscar Hernandez (no relation) performing the Cuban classic “Drume Negrita”:

The inimitable Julian Torres:

Sunday, June 16 | El Gran Festival de Musica Cubana | Segerstrom Center for the Arts (Costa Mesa)

This OC show features musicians from two major Cuban acts—Juan de Marcos González’s Afro-Cuban All Stars and Jesus Alemañy’s band Cubanismo—in a celebration of traditional Cuban music and culture. Juan de Marcos González helped put the Buena Vista Social Club together, and this show includes many of its stars: Barbarito Torres, Eliades Ochoa, and vocalist Ibrahim Ferrer Jr., carrying on his late father’s legacy. It’s a big band with a big sound. Click HEREfor tickets and more information. 

The Afro-Cuban All Stars performing at Paris’s New Morning Club last year:

Thursday, June 20 | Los Van Van de Cuba & El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico | La Plaza de Cultura y Artes (Downtown)

Los Van Van de Cuba is arguably one of the greatest modern Cuban bands, while El Gran Combo, together for almost 60 years, is Puerto Rico’s top salsa orchestra. These two iconic groups have never performed together, so don’t miss this historic event. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Check out El Gran Combo, showing their swagger and suavity:

And, for added pleasure, the modern style of Los Van Van, which gave Cuban popular music a whole new style and sound known as timba:

Saturday, June 29 | Eric Alexander Quartet | Moss Theater (Santa Monica)

Eric Alexander is one of the most virtuosic tenor players on the scene today—just ask any jazz sax player. I am a huge fan! His rhythm section for this rare performance in L.A. includes pianist Eric Reed, bassist Michael Gurrola, and drummer Kevin Kanner. Click HERE for tickets and more information.

Check out how Alexander handles the changes on this evergreen, “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes”:

Sunday, June 30Cuban-American Music Festival | La Plaza de Cultura y Artes (Downtown) 

Originally scheduled for May but postponed due to weather. 

Veteran Alma del Barrio deejay Guido Herrera Yance lives and breathes tropical Latin music,and he has organized a terrific lineup at the outdoor La Plaza de Cultura y Artes in downtown Los Angeles. The third annual Cuban-American Music Festival will feature Cuban percussionist Pedrito Martinez with his group as well as tres heavyweight Nelson González leading the Arsenio Rodriguez Project, which honors the great Cuban musician’s legacy. Iliana Rose and her all-female group Las Chikas will pay tribute to Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine in their set, and percussionist-singer Lázaro Galarraga will perform with his group Sitara Son. Local vendors will be on hand to provide Cuban cuisine and there’s even a Cuban cigar rolling session. And, of course, there is a dance floor next to the bandstand. The festival is a great way to explore and experience Cuban culture. Click HERE for tickets and more information. 

The great Cuban tres virtuoso Nelson Rodriguez in a descarga (jam session):