Regular readers probably know that every summer I try to follow up on at least a few of the free concerts that are presented in Yerba Buena Gardens as part of the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival (YBGF). This year YBGF is launching a mini-series within the festival called Let’s Go Salsa@Jessie. This series will present one concert every month between this month and September, each of which will present a different combo with its own take on salsa style. As the name suggests, these performances will not take place on the “main stage” in Yerba Buena Gardens. Instead, they will be across the street in Jessie Square at 736 Mission Street. All performances will take place on a Thursday evening beginning at 6 p.m. and running for about 90 minutes. A brief summary of the dates and performers is as follows:
May 17: The series will begin with the Cabanijazz Project, named for its founder, conga player Javier Cabanillas. Born in Mexico, Cabanillas is now lives in the Bay Area and recently received a GRAMMY Award for his work with the Oakland-based Pacific Mambo Orchestra. For the Cabanijazz Project he has assembled a nine-piece band, which has recorded ten of his original compositions for an album soon to be released. For this performance the group will be joined by two of the Pacific Mambo vocalists, Omar Ledezma Jr. and Christelle Durandy.
June 21: Bululú is another nine-piece combo, this one led by percussionist and vocalist Lali Mejia. Mejia is from Venezuela, and he named his band after a common noun used there to describe a gathering that generates excitement. Mejia’s music director is Mexican-born string expert Jose Roberto Hernandez. Ledezma is also a member of this group, contributing to the percussion work as well as providing vocals. The other performers are Ruthie Dineen (piano), Miguel Govea (trumpet), Fernanda Bustamante (violin and vocals), Lichi Fuentes (percussion and vocals), Norma Kansau (vocals), and Ayla Davila (bass).
July 19: Pellejo Seco is a Cuban band based in the Bay Area, founded in the East Bay by Ivan Camblor. Growing up in Havana in the Eighties, Camblor was influenced by the earlier generation of performers that were active prior to the revolution. Thus, it would be fair to call his approach “Cuban roots.” The band released its first album, entitled Engánchate (grab on), in 2006.
August 16: Nicaraguan-American percussionist Annette A. Aguilar leads a Brazilian-Latin combo called StringBeans. The group has recorded three albums. It has also made three international tours under the auspices of the United States State Department serving as Latin Jazz Ambassadors.
September 20: The series will wrap up with vocalist Manny Martinez. Martinez comes from New York and spent his teens in Puerto Rico. However, he is now based in the Bay Area, where he plays a central role in the alternative music scene. Thus, there series is likely to conclude by venturing away from traditional approaches out to what this site usually called the “bleeding edge.”