Warning: Polyrhythmic Grooves Are the Leading Cause of Cut Rugs

“Life is a lot like Jazz… it’s best when you improvise”

George Gershwin

“Welcome to Indigo, with the red walls and the green balls,” band leader Rolando Sanchez welcomed us to the show.

Without missing a beat, the band began—laying out the irresistible rhythms that would possess patrons of Indigo’s Green Room like some sort of Haitian Vodou. It didn’t matter if you had rhythm, the band’s on point timing would move you.

It would groove you.

These sensations, provided free of charge, were all brought to you by Rolando Sanchez and the Latin Jazz Combo. Here’s a closer look at “who’s on first”

  • Rolando Sanchez: Vocals, Bongos
  • Mike Barquez: Lead, Rhythm Guitar
  • Phil Caneso: Bass
  • Harry Chang: Drums
  • George Cristobal: Sax
  • Michelangelo Barquez: Lead Guitar, Project Manager

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While the band has only been playing together for a year, each member has several decades of experience—drawing inspiration from artists such as Tito Puente, Carlos Santana , John Coltrane, Howard Roberts, and Joe Diorio.

Rolando (visit his blog) has been awarded ASCAP‘s Songwriter Music Award for many years and has his music featured on the TV show Burn Notice.

If you’re in town and want to see these guys, check in the Green Room at Indigo on the first Tuesday of every month. Even if you aren’t familar with Latin Jazz you will still recognize covers such as “La Bamba,” a classic by Ritchie Valens and Santana‘s “Black Magic Woman.”

Check ’em out, ya dig?

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“Where the world comes together in a cup”

“Jazz to me is a living music. It’s a music that since its beginning has expressed the feelings, the dreams, hopes, of the people”

Dexter Gordon

Sometimes you just have to ask yourself: how did this happen??

Well, sit back and I’ll tell you.

It started with a cup of coffee. A cup of coffee and the phrase “where the world comes together in a cup”. Thank you Honolulu Cafe for foreshadowing the events to come.

My ears began to twitch when I heard smooth licks coming from the plaza. Smiling spirits of past jazz greats joined me under Honolulu‘s high noon sun. Scales as words, a local guitar duo began their story.

Let me introduce Mike Barques (Jazz Monsters, Latin Jazz Combo) and Nando Suan. Both are a part of a local Guitar Institute/Music Shop known as Harry’s Music. They began teaching jazz music when it wasn’t even on the island.

“I play jazz. I come from a family of musicians and studied with Wes Montgomery,” replied Nando when asked of his musical background.

Hawaiian music is the best in the world. But we’ve devoted our lives to jazz so we play jazz.” Mike spoke of the Hawaiian music scene. “We do this for love.”

And you will love them. They play in the plaza outside of the Makai Tower at least once a month. Go there. Have a bite to eat on your lunch break and let their music tell stories of the Roaring 20’s. Of flapper dresses and bob haircuts. Of an age where anyone’s dreams could come true.

If they had the guts to chase them.

After our brief interview, I walked away with a spring in my step. Three guys, distanced by several generations and until recently, an ocean, had just been brought together over, or perhaps in, a cup.

A cup of coffee and a shared love. I knew I would be back to listen to them again, I just didn’t know when.

Mike would have a better idea though. The next day I got a call inviting me to listen to him play with a full band at a place called Indigo . . .

But that’s another story.