Cuba and Cole En Español At The Bowl… Chucho Valdés And Natalie Cole Scorch A Summer Night

Tip #1:  If you have a Metro Tap Card, you can ride the Bowl shuttles for FREE!  Apparently one card gets you and a guest on board.

Tip #2:  The Hollywood Bowl is LA at its best.

Tip #3:  The Hollywood Bowl is LA at its worst.  If you feel the need to have a conversation… and then the further need to talk really loud because you can’t hear yourself over the music, learn some manners and etiquette or just save your money and go sit your obnoxious ass down in a coffee shop.  The music is not in the background… it is the foreground and the main reason most of us are here.  Do I really need to say this???!!!  Sadly, yes.

Tip #4:  Always bring extra food and drink, because part of the cool Bowl vibe is meeting strangers, sharing and breaking bread and creating a community… even if it is for One Night Only!

The opener… Chucho Valdés & The Afro-Cuban Messengers.

I can sum this review up in one word… “Unforgettable.”  No… wait… I’ll save that for Natalie.  Let me just say, “Wow!”

Wikipedia describes him a “Cuban pianist, bandleader, composer and arranger.  In 1972 he founded the group Irakere, one of Cuba’s best-known Latin jazz bands. Together with pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Valdés is revered as one of Cuba’s greatest jazz pianists. His father is the famed Cuban pianist and former director of Havana’s famous “Tropicana” night-club band Bebo Valdés. He has won five Grammy Awards and three Latin Grammy Awards.”

His band was on fire… and tight… like a liar in skinny jeans… and the three percussionists created a driving rhythm that made it hard to sit… Man, I love drums… and I hereby declare that all bands should have three percussionists…

They moved so easily from the sexy, almost orgasmic Latin rhythms to beautiful ballads, with Chucho often quoting jazz standards and classical music masterpieces.

I already have three of his records on hold at the local library!

Our neighbors, Kim and Kennya were awesome and generously shared some amazing fresh and delicious shrimp salad Kennya made… Yes, I bonded with yet another chef!  Sadly, and in perhaps bad Bowl form, I had only brought a few bottles of beer and so did not have anything to share.  But we chatted and ate and drink… and had a great time in the front row of the Super Seats.

Sorry… for you must-know-it-all, beer drinkers… It was Bear Republic Racer 5, the first IPA I ever had (thanks, Father’s Office) and still one of my faves… and a bottle of Chimay Red.

After a nice break that involved some stretching… Yeah, I’m old and my back was stiff, even in the Super Seats… the lights went down, the orchestra lit up and silhouetted in a glorious blue background was the woman herself… She was just a figure in black, almost like one of those cool paper cut outs, very Jessica Rabbit-ish… until the spot came on, and there stood the lovely and divine, Natalie Cole.

Diva entrance.  Check.

Crowd goes crazy.  Check.

Stunning.  Check.

The long dress she wore was open in the middle… very sexy… featured a tight, halter-like top… and a long flowing bottom that required assistance down the stairs…

Who am I, Tim Gunn???  Yes, on paper I vacation on Fire Island.

Towards the end of the show she said: “I just want to talk to all the ladies for a moment.”  Though it seemed like that was kind of the theme of the night… and they were loving on Natalie.  Her songs speak some kind of Gospel truth on love and romance and the way we hope things are, passion wise.

The highlights were of course “Unforgettable”, the duet with her Dad, the still stunning and breathtaking Nat “King” ColeCharlie Chaplin’s “Smile”… a Spanish song she dueted with a video of her Dad on… and two fiery “Call and Response” scats she did first with her insanely amazing trumpeter… and then with her three phenomenal, voice from the heavens… and the gut, backup singers… Sorry for not having everyone’s name… I looked… I did… But man, this band is so good.

My buddy made us get up and start heading out before the one song-encore of Santana’s “Oye Como Va”… but we stopped and watched it from the side before departing.  So I did get the complete experience, and I do thank him for being so generous with the ticket.  Thanks, Mitch.

For whatever reason the shuttle busses were way off logic and timing last night… and one young dude shut a whole bunch of us out and sent home a half-filled bus… Odd.

The only good thing about that was that it let me ride home with two old and dear acting friends… No, not old in age… sheesh!  The beautiful Mandy, whose band Crown City Bombers is a MUST SEE and the always charming, talented and magical Larry!  Though they did remind me of what a huge mistake I made not going to see Steve Martin, Edie Brickell and The Steep Canyon Rangers last Wednesday… AAGGHH… Huge SIGH…

I am gonna kick myself for a long, long, long, long time…

Aside from that… the three of us REALLY should have our own show already!  Make it happen… Somebody!

See… there really is a great community at the Bowl!


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Filed under Live Music Reviews, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me

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