Los Amigos Invisibles, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue House of Blues February 19, 2011
When Aftermath first learned that Los Amigos Invisibles and Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews would be playing the same concert, we were a little confused. We had no idea what would result from a mesh of Latino Alternative and SupaFunkRock contemporary jazz but we knew it was unique.
Trombone Shorty took the stage first with his band Orleans Avenue. Since its release last April, their debut album Backatown has been at or near the top of Billboard's Contemporary Jazz Albums chart.
Andrews led the group with his solid trombone and trumpet skills - complete with eyes and cheeks bulging out like Louis Armstrong - or his own vocals for an entire hour. The only time he seemed to need a breather was after showing off his circular breathing skills by holding a note on his trumpet for three whole minutes.
It was the first time Aftermath had witnessed anything like that, and convinced us his lungs are made steel. A lesser musician would have passed out right there on the stage, but after a few drinks of water, Shorty was at it again.
Orleans Avenue's set was surprising in its diversity. They had a big-band feel, with the baritone and tenor sax players dancing the typical dance that must be a requirement when you learn how to play the horns. The unexpected highlights of the evening included a Latino spin on Cab Calloway's "Minnie the Moocher," the dueling guitar and trombone riffs, and the salsa-inspired "In the 6th."
"They came out with something to prove," said Los Amigos Invisibles fan Juan Hernandez. "I had never heard him play before. I was exhausted, and could have left the HOB right there and been completely satisfied."
Aftermath ourselves wasn't sure the audience had enough in them to make it through another set, but when Los Amigos Invisibles opened with "Mentiras," the audience was quick to sing back the opening notes. One female fan even got on the stage during that first song to show off her salsa dancing moves with lead singer Julio Briceño.
Discothèque never sounded so good. Los Amigos is well-known as a dance band and weaves an eclectic mix of funk, disco and psychedelic instrumentals around with traditional salsa and merengue beats. Their new album "Not So Commercial," hits stores on March 15.
The audience danced and sang along with the Latin Grammy-winning band keeping the energy up all the way to the end. Another set of girls hid on the side of the stage and joined on vocals with the band as they closed out with "Chuchi, Chuchi."
Aftermath wonders why more shows don't have this kind of diversity. Whoever thought to put these two bands together hit on something fresh. The sounds fit perfectly with Houston's diversity, bringing two, three, maybe even four different crowds together for two brilliant performances and hours of musical delight.
Personal Bias: Latino Alternative and badass horn playing all in one night? Yes please.
The Crowd: Young Latinos, middle-aged Caucasians, senior-citizen African-Americans and everything in between.
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Overheard In the Crowd: "That first band was really wow."
Random Notebook Dump: Did you find it hard to take your eyes of that keyboard player and that one dance move of his??