On the heels of last week’s announcement of the 2021 Savannah Jazz Festival lineup and the welcomed news that the 40th annual event will be held live in Forsyth Park, Sept. 23–26, Savannah Jazz has a lot to celebrate. Perfect timing for July’s monthly concert with Afro-Cuban Jazz and Salsa band Gino Castillo and the Cuban Cowboys.
This Sunday at 5 p.m., at The DeSoto Hotel, master percussionist Castillo is set to show Savannah how one earns an honorary degree in teaching music from the George Gershwin Conservatory. Based in Charleston, South Carolina, Castillo is the undisputed leader of the Holy City’s Afro-Cuban jazz and salsa scene. Those who have seen the band live know why.
Castillo and The Cuban Cowboys electrify audiences with a relentlessly upbeat style reminiscent of “The King of Latin Music” Tito Puente. That is to be expected. Castillo also adds a healthy dose of Cuban folk elements like Son cubano, guaracha, and bolero made famous by the late Ibrahim Ferrer and Ry Cooder’s Grammy-winning Buena Vista Social Club.
Carrying this musical recipe is a tight horn section that plays off call-and-response vocals, with world-class percussion making everything move. It is nearly impossible to stand still or sit down when an artist of this caliber is leading a powerful Afro-Cuban jazz and salsa band. Consider this the perfect remedy to mid-summer doldrums and one way to get excited for the full-blown Savannah Jazz festival in September.
The show is free for Savannah Jazz members, $20 at the door for the general public. Music-loving Savannahians can support the cause with a membership to Savannah Jazz. Starting at $50 annually for an individual, or $75 for a couple, the 10 free yearly concerts make it an exceptional bargain.
Savannah Jazz presents Gino Castillo and The Cuban Cowboys, Sunday, July 18, 5 p.m. | The Desoto Hotel, 15 E. Liberty. Free with membership, $20 general admission. Visit savannahjazz.org for information.