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In concert: La Excelencia at Artisphere

eLa Excelencia provided a political soundtrack to salsa night at Rosslyn's new Artisphere. (All photos by Josh Sisk/FTWP)

By Mark Jenkins

On the dance card Tuesday evening at Rosslyn's brand new Artisphere: Salsa lessons. A hot multi-ethnic band from the Bronx. And a hint of la revolucion.

The music and the politics came from La Excelencia, a 10-piece combo that headlined the first "Salsa Tuesday" at the new venue, a remake of the former Newseum. The 10-piece group relied on the style's customary ingredients: rippling piano, chattering polyrhythms, call-and-response vocals and a horn section that punctuated the music with brief unison fanfares or pithy individual solos. As the tunes swirled vigorously, both veteran dancers and first-timers were moved to spin their partners.


When he wasn't simply encouraging the crowd to try out its newly learned moves, vocalist Edwin Perez explained the themes of a few of the band's songs, including "La Lucha" ("The Struggle") and "American Sueno" ("American Dream"). The latter cleared the dance floor, but that wasn't due to its pro-immigrant message; it was just because it was the evening's slowest number. Whenever La Excelencia picked up the pace, the audience was ready to dance -- whether in solidarity with the message or merely the beat.

The dance showcased Artisphere's new ballroom, whose contrast of wood surfaces with white industrial details suggests a cross between Strathmore's concert hall and an iPod assembly plant. A few tweaks could make future shows more congenial: turning off the room's bright white fluorescent tubes and getting a bigger temporary stage. The exuberant Perez, who had to sing from the dance floor, might have been even livelier if he'd able to fit on stage with the other performers.







By Click Track  | October 13, 2010; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags:  La Excelencia  
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