Review and photographs by J Hunter
Additional photograph by Rudy Lu
It’s amazing how substituting one word for another can drastically change the meaning of a phrase. For example, if you change “Pedrito Martinez Group” to “Pedrito Martinez Quartet,” you get a completely different musical experience than the one people got earlier this year at Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, Mountain Jam and (briefly) the Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival.
While PMG is the groove-based, hip-hop-influenced unit Pedrito Martinez rolls out three nights a week at the midtown-NYC restaurant Guantanamera, the Pedrito Martinez Quartet has a more traditional Afro-Cuban sound that has periodically graced the stage at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, the celebrated jazz venue that’s part of Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz @ Lincoln Center empire. This format allows the Cuban-born conguero – and his sensational keyboardist Ariacne Trujillo – to return to the sounds of their native Havana. For his part, Martinez explained that all his musical knowledge was learned on the street, not in a school. “My music is all about folklore,” he told us.