Leifheit’s gone, party at the Rose—Son Trinidad

TRRT columnist and restaurant owner Mike Leifheit is in Hungary, so his devoted staff is throwing a party at the Irish Rose on State Street to celebrate his absence with music by Chicago’s Latin-music group, Son Trinidad on Saturday, Nov. 1.

Son Trinidad plays many great jazz standards, but their sound and feel is dominated by the music and flavor of Latin America.

Consisting of Rockford’s own Matt Ulery on bass, Andres Castillo from Colombia on guitar and vocals, Javier Saume from Venezuela on percussion and drums, and Thad Franklin of Bloomington/Normal on trumpet, the group plays weekly in Chicago.

The quartet creates a precise and exquisite melding of ethnic folk, Latin and jazz “in one voice,” as Castillo describes it. Although they play many traditional Latin pieces and adhere to the styles and rhythms typical of the particular genre chosen, they infuse the improvisation styles and freedom of jazz in their work that displays maturity, control and taste beyond their years.

Son Trinidad’s work is some of the most lifting, emotional and universally lovable music being performed today, and there is fresh vigor, tender emotionalism and straight-up dance-inspiring rhythms in every note and phrase.

Of Castillo, Nile Tesser from The Reader said in 2001, “his clear, high voice imparts flavors of bossa nova and flamenco.” Although I rarely take any stock in what music critics at Chicago’s weekly entertainment paper say, and I’m a little confused as to how a voice imparts “flavors” of musical genres and rhythms, it is understood what he means. Castillo exudes a passion and love for what he does through every word sung and every note played. His guitar technique is well mastered, and he plays with seeming effortlessness.

Franklin performs regularly in Ulery’s group The Narnia Quartet (or Quintet, depending), which played an art show in Rockford a few months back. Albeit, Franklin wasn’t actually in that particular performance, but anyone who was there would know that the standards in musicianship are high in the group. He has performed with the likes of Mark Colby, Maria Schneider and many others, and has studied under Laurence Hobgood (remember Rockford’s Kurt Elling plays with him), Tito Carillo, Rob Parton and others.

Not only is Saume a proficient bongo player (and killer on the maracas), he also plays a drum set for the more energized pieces. His education eventually took him to Chicago, where he now plays with Son Trinidad regularly on Tuesday nights at Café LaGuardia and Sundays at Café 28. His enthusiastic presentation makes Saume the only man for the job in the group.

Bassist Ulery grew up in Rockford, and many locals are familiar with his name. His soloing in Son Trinidad is more lyrical and contemporary than traditional Latin bass methods, and his rhythm (in conjunction with Saume’s playing) is what forces audience members to get up and dance.

“We have a jazz approach and we’re all jazz musicians, but our repertoire consists of Latin standards from Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Spain, and Argentina.” Ulery said.

Robin Leifheit of the Irish Rose encourages Rockford to come to celebrate what many would consider to be a momentous occasion—that is, the absence of Mike. He won’t know what he’s missing when Son Trinidad takes the stage, although rumor has it that he’ll be hearing Bob Dylan in Budapest while he’s over there. I would have to say I’d rather see Castillo play than the current Dylan; he’s younger and can actually sing.

Son Trinidad will begin at about 9:30 p.m., there is no cover charge, and there will be a free buffet to celebrate the cat being away. I hope Leifheit has a good time, because he will be missing a great time in downtown Rockford. For more information about the event, call 964-0480 or visit the band’s Web site at www.sontrinidadlatino.com.

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