Zandhunga members (clockwise from top left) Oscar Robles Diaz

Zandhunga bringing Latin dance to the Bridge

Internationally acclaimed Comox Valley-based ensemble

Salsa, Latin-jazz and much more is on the live music menu featured at the Bridge Lounge this Saturday, February 28th. Doors open at 8:00 p.m., and the locally-based ensemble, Zandhunga will take to the stage to kick off a new series of Latin-themed live music events presented by Buleria Productions that will be happening monthly at the downtown night club.

“Overlooking the river, the Bridge Lounge is an excellent venue in an excellent location. It has a superbly spacious dance floor, and we want it to be put to good use,” says Britt Bowman of Buleria Productions.

Expect nothing less than high-energy Latin dance party vibes from Zandhunga. The ensemble has toured internationally, taking their music as far as Taiwan. Mexican-born percussionist and lead vocalist in the group is Oscar Robles Diaz who grew up to the sweet sounds of salsa as a boy. He says it’s an absolute pleasure to perform in Canada and see Latinos and non-Latinos alike feeling the fire of Latin rhythms and loving it.

“It’s just about having fun,” he says, “whether you know and practice the dance steps specific to each style or not, it’s all good!”

His slick grooves on the congas and killer solos are backed by brilliant bass tumbaos played ‘Britt de La Isla’ (Brittany Bowman) and mesmerizing montunos played by keyboardist ‘La Tomasa’ (Kelly Thomas). Amid multiple voices, the delectable cherry on the cake is the cool stylings of Jake Masri on trumpet and fluegelhorn and – the ensemble’s most recent addition – Jeff Agopsowicz on slide trombone.

In its fullest form, Zandhunga is a musically diverse and far-reaching collective comprised of musicians, dancers and artists based in Mexico, as well as Canada. Results of their creative collaboration can be heard on Zandhunga’s self-titled cd. The album, which will be available for sale at Bridge Lounge, features original compositions and album art work by locally-based painter Helen Utsal of the Art Alchemy collective.

For this Saturday, Zandhunga’s repertoire will include their usually heavy dosage of classic and cutting edge salsa. Tribute will be paid to legends such as Hector Lavoe and Willie Colon, well as the queen of salsa, Celia Cruz. Merengue and cha-cha-cha is also on the menu, as well as the Latin-jazz classic by Dizzy Gillespie, A Night in Tunisia, which Zandhunga has prepared with spice à la Poncho Sanchez.

Advance tickets are $12 and can be purchased at Blue Heron Books, 1775 Comox Avenue, Comox, (250-339-6111), at Bop City Records, 211 Simms Street, Courtenay (250-338-6621) or at Village Muse Books, 2720 Dunsmuir Avenue, Cumberland (250-400-5466). Admission at the door is $15.


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