Review of The Pedrito Martinez Group, Ringling International Arts Festival

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By: Kenney DeCamp

RIAF October 17, 2014


Pedrito Martinez and Group had Me Dancing in My Seat
The stage in the FSU Asolo Cooks Theater was set in the guise of many a jazz rooms I have visited in New York City and Chicago. Stage left was a Roland electric piano set with a vocal mike. In front next to and in the middle of the stage were 3 upright congas that also included a vocal mike at stage right was a chair, vocal mike and a set of bongos. Down stage in the middle and behind the congas stood a vocal mike and on the floor, in a stand, was a 5 string base guitar. And to the left of the base setup what was known as “Vata” drums these are 3 drums set horizontal on a stand where both ends can deliver a solid beat.

The first song by the group had me wiggling, the second had me moving more in my seat and by the third my shoulders and head were now in a dance. By the end of the hour show the entire audience was standing and doing whatever boogie made them feel comfortable. Even off to the sides of the room had couples doing a salsa and appropriately a rumba to this high-energy music.

The quartet leader and magical conga percussionist is Pedrito Martinez who definitely fired up the Ringling International Arts Festival. With the music I was most impressed musically and with the fine vocals of all 4 musicians performed for an audience at 2:00 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. Pedrito’s hot nasal edged tone electrified the room, with his eccentrically controlled conga banging. The pianist, Ariacne Trujillo, with a more mellow vocal tone ran her fingers on her keyboard with rhythmic authority. Both her, and Pedrito, are of Cuban descent, so the Latin beat progressed to a pallet of sound from Afro-Cuban to Motown, tying in a bit of classical Latin jazz.  All of this of course, was accented with percussive precision. On bongos and cow bell was Peruvian born Jhair Sala who tied the distinctive rhythm patterns all together. Finally, and most importantly to my dancing energy and bringing up the base end was Lavaro Benavides, laying down all the grooves for a solid musical underpinning. His solos were accompanied by jazzy vocal scatting and body movements that truly made you appreciate the talent this man, this quartet, and this musical interlude that was performing to an enthusiastic, constantly applauding crowd.

As he told most of us afterward “you must buy my CD.” And of course many did. This Pedrito is a rising Latin, American, pops star.



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