"We've got to do this to promote the union of musicians," asserts Torres. "Mario Bauza is the culprit of all this. And when Dizzy Gillespie introduces percussion into the jazz, that's when jazz says, 'I'm never going to die.' What we're doing today is a mix of the past and the present, toward the future. We have to do things like this for the benefit of those to come."
One (of mil) motivations to catch these concerts, wherever they may be, is D'Rivera's recently released celebration of the descarga 40 Years of Latin Jam Sessions (Messidor, with liner notes by Guillermo Cabrera Infante), recorded at Criteria last year. Appearing on it are 23 musicians, including Cachao, Torres, and Andy Garcia (taking a turn on congas).
Torres provides a little more fuel for the fire as he describes the time Hidalgo scorched Havana performing with Gillespie's orchestra at the 1990 Jazz Festival. "Giovanni went to Cuba, and he smoked and smoked, and completely blew them away. In one bolero, I felt him put in conga, mozambique, guaguanco, guaracha.... That's the genius of it. It's a question of vibration."
Ray Barretto and Larry Harlow perform with Juan Pablo Torres and the Latin Jazz Quintet tonight at 8:00 at Teatro Trail, 3713 SW 8th St., 448-0592. Tickets cost $15, $20, and $25.