WEDNESDAY

For all but the most ardent Japanophiles, feminists, and salsa fanatics, it’s probably hard to even believe that a group like Son Reinas exists, let alone to view it as anything more than a novelty act. Son Reinas is a 10-piece all-female salsa orchestra from Tokyo. Together since 1994, the group—whose name is Spanish for “We Are Queens”—is led by vocalist Izumi Muramatsu, a Cuban music fan who sings in phonetically learned Spanish. While Muramatsu’s inability to understand the language she’s warbling and her ensemble’s cutesy, revealing clothes might encourage some to dismiss the group, a listen to its music—coupled with an understanding of the Japanese attitude toward non-native musical styles—suggests that it would be a mistake to do so. Long in love with the sounds of the Western hemisphere, the Japanese have for years produced their own reverential jazz, blues, and reggae outfits. They’ve also long had their own salsa bands. The best-known is Orchesta de la Luz, a unit with a vocalist who also sang in phonetic Spanish. Before its breakup in 1997, De la Luz worked with top-notch Latin producers and even achieved commercial success in the Americas. Son Reinas hopes to follow in its footsteps. Featuring arrangements by the likes of Chucho Valdes, former leader of Cuban band Irakere, Son Reinas offers well-played, if not innovative, Latin dance music that spotlights classic horn-section bursts and dynamic conga- and timbale-powered polyrhythms. The band performs at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 13, at Zanzibar on the Waterfront, 700 Water St. SW. $20. (202) 554-9100. (Steve Kiviat)