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Los Hombres Calientes

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LOS HOMBRES CALIENTES

Sprinkled with references to yuka and makuta, songo and samba, the breathless press agentry for Los Hombres Calientes claims that this New Orleans band's combination of acoustic jazz and electrifying Afro-Latin rhythms represents "a more fully realized global approach." And amazingly, given the hype, Los Hombres pretty much deliver the goods. The band revolves around veteran percussionist Bill Summers, best known from Herbie Hancock's album Head Hunters; 22-year-old drummer Jason Marsalis, the youngest member of jazz's "first family" and perhaps the most talented; and whiz-kid trumpeter Irvin Mayfield, only 21, who has described the group's development by saying, "Everybody kind of knew that this is where the music has to go. It's just something that's known." Actually, the music already has gone there: a similar north-south fusion inspired Pat Metheny's late-80s successes, and in the 90s its prominent advocates have included pianist Danilo Perez and saxophonist David Sanchez. And Mayfield's wedding of New Orleans brashness to Latin American elements would have pleased jazz pioneer Jelly Roll Morton, the first to comment on the importance of the "Spanish tinge" in jazz. Marsalis and Summers supplement their flexible knowledge of traditional jazz drumming with a formidable array of Afro-Latin rhythms--Cuban, South African, Brazilian, Jamaican, and more--and they don't hesitate to layer idioms, creating infectious and long-lasting grooves. With this kind of multiculti mix and match, the danger is always that the various ingredients will end up homogenized into generic "world music." But on most of Volume 2 (Basin Street)--15 insinuating originals and a few unexpected covers--Los Hombres keep the textures spare; purists can still parse the arrangements and everybody else can simply bask in the sheer effervescence of the rhythms. On disc, the band fills out its sound with a shifting set of guest musicians; on tour, it'll bring pianist Victor Atkins, bassist Edwin Livingston, and vocalist-percussionist Yvette Summers. Saturday, 7:30 and 10 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln; 773-728-6000. NEIL TESSER

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jeff Strout.

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