Although the Iguanas have yet to cut a record that captures the allure of their live performances, this New Orleans-based quintet can, in concert, dig a groove as deep and impressive as the Grand Canyon. This is not just music you can dance to, but music that demands bodily movement, with rhythms so seductive they might as well be prescribed as a remedy for catatonia.

But a hot groove is sometimes just a hot groove (check out a Maceo Parker show for a prime example). The Iguanas are more than a funky bottom line: The group simmers its rhythms in a rich olio of styles, each prepared with an accuracy that smells as authentic as Creole jambalaya. Although the band members didn't grow up in the Crescent City, they create music as dark and funky as anything New Orleans has bred, often peppered with the twin saxophones of Joe Cabral and Derek Huston. They also can summon up the dusky glories of Louisiana swamp pop with accuracy and spiritual truth, or play down-home zydeco like they were born on the bayou. And that's not all. The Iguanas also travel down the Gulf Coast to the borderlands, playing what is probably the truest Tex-Mex outside the Lone Star State.

In a way, an Iguanas show is like a musical tour along Interstate 10, traveling from New Orleans to San Antonio. The band not only moves from style to style with an amazing seamlessness, but employing its near musicological grasp of genres, it also melds various musics into new hybrids. The songs run the gamut from infectious chants to heartwarming paeans to romance, with singers Cabral and Rod Hodges displaying a vocal versatility as impressive as the group's instrumental range.


The Iguanas

Fabulous Satellite Lounge, 3616 Washington Avenue

Saturday, December 9 (713)869-COOL

It all adds up to one undisputed fact: The Iguanas are the Gulf Coast party band nonpareil. It's a full-course meal from a massive buffet, sure to satisfy.


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