For fans of Latin and Brazilian sounds, Friday and Saturday nights offer a number of appealing choices. Earlier in the week I highlighted the Monday appearance of Puerto Rican reggaeton duo Alexis y Fido, and now Friday brings another Puerto Rican reggaeton duo, Rakim y Ken-y (also known as R.K.M. y Keny), who will be at El Boqueron II. Together since 2004, these two offer a more pop-romantic take on the genre than Alexis y Fido. While Rakim offers standard, speedy Spanish-language rapping, Ken-y sings catchy melodies that are influenced by the lush feel of contemporary bachata and R&B.
The Strathmore has commissioned a different sort of romantic Latin evening. “Danzon” unites the Chicago-based Luna Negra Dance Theater with Cubancomposer/saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera and jazz/classical outfit the Turtle Island Quartet. Danzon is an Afro-Cuban couples dance and music form with roots going back hundreds of years. Now considered a slow, classy style of movement to flute, horns, and percussion, this art form was criticized in the early 20th century because the folks dancing to it (occasionally prostitutes and their johns) engaged in risqué touching and lascivious hip movements to African-derived rhythms. Reviews of earlier performances and a video trailer of “Danzon” suggest that the program’s choreography will merge aspects of traditional pairs dancing with modern art-rooted theatrical dance techniques. Expect D’Rivera to blow up a storm as accompaniment.
Saturday night brings Puerto Rican salsa singer extraordinaire Victor Manuelle to the Galaxy Night Club in Takoma Park. A leading light of “salsa romantica” in the ’90s, Manuelle was big enough just a few years ago to play D.A.R. Constitution Hall. But since the growth of reggaeton, bachata, and Latin pop, Manuelle’s popularity has diminished a bit. Since 2000 he has tried multiple approaches—crossover pop, duets, and old-school salsa—some with greater success than others. Still known for his ability to improvise vocally, this is a good opportunity to listen and dance to him in a room that’s not too large.
Richmond’s Bio Ritmo is headlining a dance party in an even smaller room, the Rock & Roll Hotel. With a great horn section, pianist, and percussionist, they should have folks moving late into the night to their classic salsa dura (hard salsa). Opening for them will be local act Funk Ark, an afrobeat-inspired combo led by keyboardist Will Rast, and Hãhãhães ( led by Afro-Brazilian percussionist Dendê), who merge Bahian rhythms with Afrobeat and jazz.
Rakim y Ken-Y (Latin pop) perform Friday night 3-19 at El Boqueron II, 1330 East Gude Drive, Rockville, MD 301-424-0745. $30.
Danzón: A special tribute to Cuban dance with the Luna Negra Dance Theater, Turtle Island Quartet, and Paquito D’Rivera is on Friday 3-19 at the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD. (301) 581-5100. $27 – $67.
Victor Manuelle (salsa singing star) and Zone D’Tambura perform at 10 p.m. Saturday 3-20 at the Galaxy Nightclub, 2031 University Blvd East, Hyattsville, Maryland, 301.439.6666 Age(s): 21+. $25.
Bio Ritmo (Richmond salsa), Funk Ark, and Hãhãhães( led by Afro-Brazilian percussionist Dendê) perform Saturday 3-20 at 9:30 pm at the Rock n Roll Hotel, 1353 H Street, NE, Washington, DC USA – (202) 388-ROCK. $10 – 12.