Serious Jam

In this town it seems like every time two Latin musicians get together in the same room someone calls it a descarga. For the dizzying thrill of the real thing, head to Café Nostalgia this Friday night, when a group of powerful multigenerational instrumentalists will scare up the very soul of Cuban jazz. The aptly named Cuban Jam Session Ensemble will explore the expansive side of Cuban classics in the spirit of the original Havana jams of the 1950s, driven by the musicians' decades of playing around the world.

The stellar lineup includes famed trumpet player Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros, whose long résumé includes stints with Beny Moré, Machito, Eddie and Charlie Palmieri, and Cachao; Fania Allstars veteran violinist Felix "Pupi" Legarreta; timbalero and Latin drum kit innovator Walfredo de los Reyes III; former Irakere member Carlos Averhoff; Miami scene's trumpet darling Feliciano Gomez "Pachu"; and bongo player Albert "El Super" Dobarganes.

Promoter Arturo Campa, who previously brought the group together at the 2001 JVC Jazz Festival, says to expect traditional Cuban music interpreted through their own approach to the tunes. "These guys are all specialists in their instruments," he adds. "They're soloists, arrangers, and composers who understand this music like no one else. In many cases, they had a hand in making it popular in Cuba in the first place, and they've kept it alive all these years."

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Judy Cantor