Austin, Texas-based Grupo Fantasma is a bristling, 10-piece Latin orchestra that comes out blazing and continually stokes the flames higher on the strength of brash horns and scorching rhythms. Its sound plays much bigger than the band's actual number, and over the decade of its existence GF has forged a reputation as being especially ignited live, even coaxing Prince onstage at a Vegas show. Although Fantasma's music clearly comes out of Latin America, it's such a comprehensive synthesis that untangling its threads would not only be daunting, it would distract from the urgency to get on the dance floor. Fantasma's new El Existential, which follows up 2008's Grammy-nominated Sonidos Gold, is packed with cumbia, tejano, all manner of salsa, Dizzy-esque Afro-Cuban jazz, son, reggae, and funk. Fantasma is fantastically tight and fabulously pan-American. Chico Trujillo, a Chilean octet, also smokes pretty impressively on its new Chico de Oro (Barbès). A bit more folkloric than Fantasma, CT is nonetheless eclectic itself, though mostly under the umbrella of cumbia, which takes on different characters as it moves across the Americas. The added twist—and shot of adrenalin—for CT are hints of many of the musicians' former identity as members of a ska band called La Floripondio. (Photo by Daniel Perlaky)
Thu., June 10, 7 p.m., 2010
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