MARSHALL VENTE & TROPICALE
Marshall Vente leads a varied musical career as a keyboardist, composer-arranger, concert promoter, WDCB disc jockey, and (not incidentally) leader of several inventive ensembles. Tropicale stands out as the most eclectic of his bands: in it Vente blithely incorporates jazz and world-music pop, focusing on the sounds of Brazil but making use of specifically Afro-Cuban rhythms as well. On the band's eponymous debut album (Southport) Vente mixes his own tunes with reworked Brazilian classics--including a contempo dance take on "The Girl From Ipanema" and a smoldering, nearly over-the-top "Agua de Beber (Water to Drink)"--ranging from bossa nova to beyond tropicalismo (the 70s pop-rock sound that shook up Brazil's rich music scene). More than any of his bands Tropicale shows off Vente's fluid and energetic keyboard work; it also provides the most effective showcase for his open-arms musical aesthetic, even if the album occasionally veers toward the overproduced. But then Vente never does anything too simply--as further demonstrated by this gig, a release party for the CD (to which this writer contributed liner notes). Never one to cut corners, Vente will present both the core combo Tropicale and then the Tropicale Concert Ensemble, a 19-piece orchestra that constitutes the group heard on the album's large arrangements. Featured vocalists and soloists include Anna Dawson, saxists Steve Eisen and Jim Massoth, and Joe Sonnefeldt on steel drums. And while the event takes place at Green Dolphin Street, Vente--bowing to his typical and impressive obsession with detail--has engaged an outside sound engineer to minimize the club's notorious acoustic problems. Friday, 9 PM, Green Dolphin Street, 2200 N. Ashland; 395-0066. (Vente and Tropicale will also perform next Sunday, March 3, 4 PM, Gorton Community Center, 400 E. Illinois, Lake Forest; 847-234-6060.) NEIL TESSER
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.