By Laurelle Walsh
Mezcla, an all-star Cuban band with roots in Latin jazz, rumba and Yoruba rhythms, performs at the Twisp River Pub on Friday (Sept. 19) at 9 p.m.
The powerhouse group, led by Pablo Menendez on guitar and vocals, has been on the Cuban music scene since the 1980s and has shared the stage with the likes of Carlos Santana, Tito Puente and Chucho Valdes.
Friday’s performance in Twisp will showcase Menendez’s soaring guitar solos, backed by stellar Afro-Cuban percussion and Caribbean, African and modern jazz melodies.
The group has performed around the world, including most recently a 2012 European tour, a 2011 festival tour in Canada, and U.S. tours in 2010 and 2013, which included a stop last summer in Leavenworth, Washington.
Mezcla started its 2014 U.S. tour at the Chicago World Music Festival on Sept. 12. Joining Menendez on stage are Octavio Rodriguez on congas and batá drums, Roberto Smith on percussion, Jose Hermida on bass, and multi-instrumentalist Julio Valdez on violin, keyboard and vocals.
While the band’s lineup has morphed over the years, it continues to attract young Cuban artists, all the while maintaining a solid foundation of veteran Afro-Cuban masters. When not on tour, the musicians return home to Cuba where they make regular appearances at Havana’s premier jazz club, La Zorra y el Cuervo, and at the annual Havana Jazz Festival.
Last January, Mezcla released the concert album Todos Estrellas del Jazz Cubano, recorded live at the Teatro Nacional in Havana, Cuba.
Mezcla’s 2010 album, I’ll See You In Cuba, was nominated for the Best of Latin Jazz Awards. The recording, which includes artists not on Mezcla’s current tour, nimbly moves from chaotic bop to classic mambo to languid smooth jazz, showcasing the band’s artistic breadth and depth.
The band was also featured in the Smithsonian Institute’s Latin Jazz documentary La Combinacion Perfecta.
Tickets are $20 at the door or at brownpapertickets.com. For more information, call the Twisp River Pub at 997-6822.