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Friday, July 28, 2006

LISTENING POST

LIVE

Los Van Van

MICHAEL PRONKO

News photo
Los Van Van SHINICHI TAKAHASHI PHOTO

A Cuban institution active for three decades, Los Van Van continues to reinvent its special brew of Latin music, with a constant influx of younger players. Its deep grooves and pulsing live show has lost none of the integrity or musicianship that has made them one of the Caribbean island's best-loved bands.

Los Van Van tour Japan in August and September, and if last year's tour is any indication, rum will flow, cigars will crackle and the dance floor will vibrate to swirling, sexy moves. Along with just about everyone who's ever taken a salsa dance lesson, South Americans will no doubt be there in force too, capable of turning each concert into a vibrant summer carnival.

Musically, Los Van Van mix in newer sounds like timba and songo amid the older touches of son and charanga, going beyond the propulsive horns and intricate percussion of many Latin bands, most of whom learned by listening to Los Van Van's records anyway. With abundant solos, it's no surprise that they'll end this year's tour at the Tokyo Jazz Festival, an honor accorded to few non-jazz groups.

On this tour, most shows will be opened by local Latin groups like Tropicante, Conquistador, Alisa Sunaga and Chakala.

However, their biggest date is the weekend Isla de Salsa Festival near Fukuoka in Kyushu. This year's 10th anniversary festival also features Puro Caribe from Cuba and Japan's best Latin ensemble, Orquesta de la Luz, among others.

Los Van Van plays: Aug. 4, Oizumi Mura Bunka Mura Dai Hall, Gunma; Aug. 5, Shin-Kiba Studio Coast, Tokyo; Aug. 6, Shichigahama Kokusai Mura, Miyagi; Aug. 8, Kanazawa Excel Hotel Tokyu Ballroom; Aug. 10, Yokohama Blitz; Aug. 11, Nagoya Bottom Line; Aug. 12, Namba Hatch, Osaka; Aug. 19 and 20, Nokonoshima Camp Ground, Isla de Salsa Festival, Fukuoka; Sept. 2, Tokyo Jazz Festival, Tokyo International Forum. For more info in English, Japanese and Spanish, visit www.tiempo.jp


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