Paris Escovedo, son of famed percussionist Thomas "Coke" Escovedo; has emerged to bring Latin back to the world of jazz. "Coke" Escovedo was an original member of the Carlos Santana band in the 1970s, who later created his band entitled Azteca, and through his untimely passing, Paris is building upon the tradition set forth by his father. Paris has played the timbales since he was a child. His first set of timbales was a gift from the great Tito Puente.
Paris Escovedo made his debut at the La Ve Lee jazz club - the premier jazz club in Los Angeles. La Ve Lee is a very intimate setting thereby establishing the stage for each performance. Paris Escovedo and his project aptly entitled, The Escovedo Project, can be classified as Ghetto Jazz: a mixture of funk, and Latin jazz. He continually pursues outlets for his various musical moods. A variety of musical genres and explores everything from latin jazz to hip hop with masterful dexterity.
The set commenced with a percussive Intro that was not only fluid but also inspired and evocative of the sound of Azteca. The intro led into Suavecito. Upon hearing the song, and witnessing the charisma of this emerging talent, I immediately was reminded of great bandleaders of the past including, Tito Rodriguez, and Tito Puente. Paris Escovedo has materialized as the new latin bandleader. He not only shines but allows each member of his band to step forward and excel individually during the course of the performance. The Escovedo Project is commercial yet authentic, devoid of the contrived quality of many latin bands. The entire horn section is extraordinary and consists of Musical Director, Arthur L. Pruitt, Jr (Big Nasty), who has performed with many industry heavyweights, is remarkable on saxophone. David Lamont of Hiroshima on flute, Ray Poncin of Tito Puente on trumpet, and Ken Tussing of Mongo Santa Maria on trombone.
Victor Orlando formerly of the Gap Band and Glenn Brooks who played with Willie Bobbo gave inspired performances during the quintessentially latin Querida. Larry Houston on keyboards formerly of the Ohio Players, Mark Single Touch lead guitarist and Bobby Wilkerson formerly of Slave performed astonishingly together. Paris Escovedo played charismatically during the next interlude which served as the perfect segue into Call To Dance. There is a visual quality to this song, and there is such a sense of camaraderie when onstage among all players that translates through to their improvisation.
Rolando Garza lead vocalist of The Escovedo Project showcased his distinct singing talent when giving his adept interpretation of Eden. Paris Escovedo then began his percussive solo. During this solo it was obvious that Paris has the prodigious talent that separates his level of musicianship from other percussionists. On one hand he did a single stroke on timbales that was so fast, that he then went into triplets on two hands and ended in a long roll. This was truly an amazing performance. The crowd roared with excitement and rose to their feet for a standing ovation after this song, and each song as the evening ensued.
Hit Them Skins is an instant classic, surely a future radio success. This song is funky and distinguished. The next interlude of the night accompanied with congas almost a primitive quality unadulterated jazz essence. Latin Lady he’s bringing latin back!! The rhythm changes were amazing. The night ended with Nena Linda and an outro which featured each band members’ solos.
Andy Vargas the current lead vocalist for Carlos Santana caught the remainder of the show. When asked what he thought he replied, "The band is incredible."
When Mr. Escovedo plays, he formulates what he wants to demonstrate and he is so focused and aware of it that he is the surround, nothing is separate. He becomes connected to his drums to his music. He is an effective creator; his music infiltrates space with ideas and mansions of his musical thoughts which allows for an intangible phenomenon. There is such a sense of freedom that he expresses during his performances, a boundless energy that comes straight from his heart. His facial expressions were of sheer delight. Everyone in the band then was dancing in the pulsating sphere of sounds and musical notes vibrating through the club.
Paris Escovedo has emerged to change the face of latin music and more importantly, latin jazz. I highly recommend that you check out Paris Escovedo and his band whenever possible, you will be hearing and seeing more from this emerging artist in the very near future.