Masters of Percussion

Mayne Stage, Chicago, IL

Joe Rendon
Joe Rendon & Friends
Joe Rendon
Tony Carpenter's MBTC & Drum Ensemble

Story by Brad Walseth and Photos by John Broughton, Copyright 2010

The beating of drums evoke a primal call that is impossible to resist - that's why last Tuesday's gathering of many of Chicago's own Masters of Percussion was so eagerly anticipated. Put together by promoter Dave Freeman at the beautiful Mayne Stage (1330 W. Morse in Rogers Park), this exciting event featured a stunning array of virtuoso percussionists (as well as other musicians) from across many disparate cultural lines.

Opening up was the wonderful flameco group Guitarra Azul - led by guitarist Stafano and featuring percussionists Ruben Alverez (Chevere, CALJE) and Javier Saume. This vibrant group was joined by Indian American tabla master Kalyan Pathak and Syrian-American percussion star Omar Al Musfi. This set started the night of well with great band interplay and heartfelt guitar solos by Stefano on some choice selections from the band's repetoire. Meanwhile, Pathak's solo showcase - with the drummer supplying "tabla language" as his own accompaniment was a highlight. Additional great drum solos were added by Alverez (on congas), Saume (on cajon) and Alverez's Chevere bandmate Alejo Poveda (timbales).

Another member of the talented and popular Chevere, percssionist Joe Rendon brought a talented all-star band onto the stage next. With a group consisting of drummer Jean Leroy, pianist Ben Lewis, reed player Mike Levin (Suenos), bassist Rudy Memebiela and timbale player extraordinaire Jaime Claudio on stage you knew the Latin jazz would be burning hot, and of course these cats did not disappoint. Starting off with the Beatles' "Come Together" was a pleasant surprise as the song morphed into an all out Latin jam in the middle section. Selections from Santana and the late Afro-Cuban superstar Ray Baretto followed and featured cascades of thrilling beats. The highlight, however, may have been the absolutely incendiary version of Herbie Hancock's "Canteloupe Island" that closed the set.

Hard to believe things could continue at such a high level, but the next act was led by percussionist Tony "Toca" Carpenter and featured a stellar ensemble of South Side superstars, including keyboardist Mike Logan, bassist Frank Russell, drummer Malcom Banks and saxophonist Audley Reid, along with a three member percussion unit (Kevin, Olu and Uche). This colorful band took on Horace Silver's "Song For My Father" -- giving it almost a contemporary jazz flavor, while a Frank Russell bass solo highlighted Monk's "Well You Needn't." A slowed down take on the gospel-drenched "Wade in The Water" also pleased the crowd.

A fun multicultural percussion duet between Pathak on tabla and Al Musfi on djembe led into most of the musicians who played climbing back onstage for an amazing final jam session. West Side/North Side and South Side musicians crowded the stage to provide an embarrassment of musical riches to the audience. Freeman deserves credit for bringing these great musicians and human beings together for a clear demonstration that music is the universal language, with drums playing a central role.

Before the show

Guitarra Azul

Stefano & Ruben Alverez

Stefano & David Chiriboga

Ruben Alverez

Omar Al Musfi

Kalyan Pathak

Kalyan Pathak & Omar Al Musfi



Javier Saume

Alejo Poveda

Alejo Poveda

Joe Rendon & Friends

Joe Rendon

Rudy Membiela

Mike Levin

Ben Lewis

Frankie Ocasio

Tony Carpenter's MBTC & Drum Ensemble

Tony Carpenter

Frank Russell

Audley Reid

Mike Logan

Final Jam

Check out other recent concerts reviews and photos

Return to jazzchicago home