Sweet SantaFe, the duo of Christine Baxter and Michel Rivero, play the Avalanche in Courtenay on Thursday, Oct. 3, with special guests Pablo Luis Cardenas on piano and Hector Ramos on congas. Photo by Janice Hayward

Sweet SantaFe to entertain for Georgia Straight Jazz Society

There will be singing and dancing Thursday night at the Avalanche Bar as the Georgia Straight Jazz Society presents the infectious Cuban style rhythms and soulful lyrics of Sweet SantaFe.

Christine Baxter and Michel Rivero are Sweet SantaFe. Their lyrically painted scenes enchant the listener in Spanish and English, and bring their audiences music that is “authentic,” “romantic,” and “fun.” Their poly-rhythmic, Afro-Latin sounds inspire audiences to dance. Sweet SantaFe is joined Thursday night by special guests Pablo Luis Cardenas on piano and Hector Ramos on congas.

Baxter met Rivero in 2014 while on a cultural exchange in Cuba with the Just In Time Choir. Their creative bond began with songwriting together, at first over long distances and later when Christine joined him in Cuba.

There, they married and named their band after the district in Havana that was their first home. After moving to Vancouver Island in 2016, Sweet SantaFe has been very active, performing in concerts and festivals throughout British Columbia and Alberta, including Vancouver Island MusicFest.

Christine Baxter began her musical career at age 5 singing in a family quartet at church and on a Christian variety television program in Lethbridge, Alberta. Relocating to B.C. she pursued a career as a singer-songwriter, performing her songs in concerts and festivals throughout BC and the Yukon

Michel Rivero is a songwriter, teacher, choral director and a talented instrumentalist. His love of music began at age 9 when he joined a traditional Cuban music ensemble and a choir. His love of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s music, a founding father of bossa nova, inspired him to study Spanish guitar and to begin writing his own music.

Cuban-born Pablo Luis Cardenas is one of the best Cuban pianists of his generation. His versatility and technical preparation make his music rich and full of different influences from Afro-Cuban, Latin jazz, to fusion, modern jazz, and classical music. Hector Ramos is a master conga player from Cienfuegos, Cuba who graduated from the National Academy of Music in Havana. He moved to Canada seven years ago and now makes his home in Victoria. Hector played professionally in Cuba for over 10 years, exploring all styles of Latin jazz and Afro-Cuban folklore through different groups.

Combine Caribbean rhythms with two sweet and beautiful voices, great original tunes and great harmonies, along with Rivero’s rock-solid guitar work, and you will be transported to a sunny beach with gentle breezes drifting off the azure ocean. The music begins at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3 at the Avalanche Bar in Courtenay. For more information and a calendar of bands every Thursday, visit www.georgiastraightjazz.com.

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