On a late September afternoon, the intimate Swyer Theater hosted a unique musical performance featuring a splendid collaboration between the six-piece pan-Latin ensemble Sol y Canto and the Sweet Plantain String Quartet.
This was serious, composer-driven music with a Latin texture – most definitely not a let’s-get-up-and-dance-to-the-Latin-groove kind of thing.
The first half of the program showcased each ensemble doing their separate thing – with the exception of Sol y Canto’s bongo master Renato Thoms, who performed with the string quartet for their opening selection.
The Sweet Plantain String Quartet didn’t adhere to any kind of strictly strings policy. In fact, Venezuelian-born Eddie Venegas pulled double duty on the violin and trombone, switching between the two instruments during several compositions. SPSQ were similar to the Kronos Quartet, pushing their sound into new musical territories rather than sticking to traditional string-quartet turf.
The second half of the afternoon’s performance was deliciously ambitious, to say the least. The two ensembles performed together, combining a number of different Latin musical genres to explore the relationships between Latin American music, food and individual ‘tribal’ identities.
Titled “Sabor y Memoria: A Musical Feast in Seven Courses,” the musical suite was composed by Sol y Canto’s guitarist-singer Brian Amador, and the lyrical content provided by him and vocalist-percussionist Rosi Amador, addressed subjects such as immigration, nostalgia and memories – of home, hunger, food & cooking and even the taste of chocolate, the universal sweet nectar of delight.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk