Live in Bogotá!

Life in the music business is always a trip, and when you travel back and forth between the US and the capital city of Colombia, you're always in for a surprise or two.

The first came when the US Embassy 4th of July Picnic Celebration went from being a couple of 15-minute solo sets in between breaks taken by a national military band to a full fledged concert set on the main stage just before the Ambassador spoke.  There was an invitation only crowd of about 1000 and a fair amount of anticipation. The band I was able to pull together was only going to have one rehearsal. Needless to say there were a few nerves fraying at the Embassy, because they weren't exaclty sure what they were getting.  They only knew that the national military band could not do the gig and El Gringo Latino was now the headliner.

No problema!  I had asked Oscar Acevedo to join me.  Oscar is the celebrated jazz pianist who only a year before had introduced me to Toño Castillo which led to the recording of "Coffee Colored Eyes." He's a consummate professional with incredible chops. Also on board were percussionist Jose Luis Escobar and bassist Paul Rodriguez, both of whom had played on the CD along with Oscar.  Our one rehearsal two days earlier had gone flawlessly.  We had "Coffee Colored Eyes" down.  The photos on the website and Facebook show a quartet enjoying the heck out what they do.  And afterward, CDs were sold and signed, photos were taken and the band pulled the gig off beautifully despite a dicey sound system and some charts caught up in a sudden breeze.

But a couple of other things came about that were totally unexpected.  Oscar plays at the top club in Bogotá on Monday nights when they feature jazz.  Andrés Carne de Res has been written up in the New York Times as a must see attraction here.  It's a cacaphony of sight and sound, but the jazz crowd comes out and fills the place.  After we played the Embassy, he asked me to come and sit in with his talented trio comprising Juan Camilo Anzola on drums and Alejandro Fernandez on bass.  Gina Savino is their excellent singer, so being asked to join them is no small deal in my book.  As they did not have a chance to work with the charts from "Coffee Colored Eyes," we ran some standards on the fly.  Gina sang in Portuguese, English and Spanish and we duetted on some things.  More pictures are on the website and Facebook.  A very cool evening.

Now, the third surprise. I have actually played a couple of parties - in Bogotá, parties are always musical events - where the remakable and popular Andrés Cepeda has also sung.  We met through Toño Castillo and have tried our hand at writing together.  But Andrés owns a beautiful club a few miles outside of Bogotá called Restaurante Islamorada.  It's a stop and a major hang for artists on tour around the country.  After the Embassy show, we were asked to come out and play next Sunday!

So, the merry band is off on another venture that was only to have been a couple of short fill-in-some-time sets.  All in all it's been one hekuva week for this Gringo.

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