The stars are aligning over Little Havana for a late entry in the running for best local live jazz show of the year. The stars, in this case, are the gifted violinist and composer Federico Britos, the young jazz-singing and double-bass-playing phenom Esperanza Spalding, and white-hot tenor saxophonist David Sánchez. Each is well worth seeing as a headliner in his or her own right, but combined, their repertoire reads like the latest edition of The Dictionary of Latin Jazz.
Uruguayan by birth, later taking up residence in Cuba, and currently living in Miami, Federico Britos has enjoyed a 50-year musical journey that is virtually unparalleled. Vinicius de Moraes, Astor Piazzolla, João Gilberto, Bebo Valdés, Cachao, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charlie Haden are just a few of the folks who have formed his inner circle. Another measure of Britos's musical stature: The going rate for his out-of-print gem Candombe & Jazz is $130. That's for a single CD. It features a track called "Luna Dorada," on which the drummer lays down a stunningly fast and funky groove. Could it be that the Q-berts and DJ Shadows of the world are further boosting demand for the disc?
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What's certain is that Britos is an artist who clearly went through the line twice when they were handing out talent. It's a good thing he loves jazz, but with his classical training, he could also work in just about any orchestra in the world. Still, Latin jazz suits him especially well, providing solid rhythmic foundations for his incisive, powerfully melodic violin work. The presence of the young, charismatic stars Spalding and Sánchez promises added spontaneity, abstract beauty, and heat.