Sunday October 12 at 4:00 p.m., the Florida Marlins were the obvious focus of interest in South Florida. They were well on their way towards puncturing the Cubs’ failed dreams not far from Las Olas Blvd. and Huizenga Plaza, down the historic Riverwalk in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Unbeknownst to the undersized group of people in attendance at ¡Viva Broward!, the baseball fish would eventually roll over the Yankees harder than Don Zimmer’s porcine-like fall on the field after BoSox Pedro Martínez pushed him during an exciting fracas in the American League Championship Series.
Aside from competing against baseball, festivals such as ¡Viva Broward! have suffered irrevocably throughout South Florida during the last decade. Whereas various festivals, such as those related to the Colombian and Puerto Rican communities, used to attract crowds large enough to warrant attention and support from many high profile corporate supporters –thus improving the line-ups for such events– now the sponsorships, as well as the shows themselves, are rare and rather mediocre in nature and scope. Due to the usual wide array of reasons involving social, cultural and demographical changes, as well as shifting economic winds, the audiences are simply not there. Indeed, few braved the near-searing afternoon sun to listen to Paquito D’Rivera and his group.
D’Rivera, however, both endured and issued heat on stage. At one point, the noise from nearby revelers led him to audibly bitch about it in Spanish and uttered a loud “shit” in English for good multiculti measure. The leader, brilliant as usual, excited and delighted with his virtuosic alto sax and clarinet playing nonetheless. Diego Urcola, who just issued Soundances on Sunnyside, performed on trumpet & flugelhorn. Oscar Stagnaro was the bassist, Vince Cherico the drummer, and the excellent pianist Alon Yavnai rounded up one of the finest ensembles of its kind in the business. During a final “Manicero” inspired jam, Manolo Varela joined them on alto sax, adding an unexpected treat to the performance.
A group such as this, which performs regularly as a unit, is already well attuned to the repertoire’s élan, as well as their respective aural characters as players. One could argue that such comfortableness might lead to predictability and experiential sameness –for both musicians and audiences. As familiar as D’Rivera’s group, style and sound might be, experiencing it remains exciting and wholesome for all ages, as those in attentive attendance evidenced throughout the gig. The Cuban musician is always a joyful and entertaining host. Looking slimmer –albeit a bit pale– he energized, guided and freed his crew to play away. They did.
Visit Paquito D'Rivera on the web at www.paquitodrivera.com .