Peruvian jazz guitarist Andrés Prado moved to the Twin Cities a couple of years ago from his native country, and he has since had the local jazz cognoscenti buzzing over his Latin-flavored approach to the classics, the polyrhythmic polish of his own compositions, the quality of musicians he has recruited to play with him, and his own fiery fingerboard technique.
At the Artist’s Quarter last night, Prado was joined by Peter Schimke on piano, Pete Whitman on sax, Anthony Cox on bass, and Kevin Washington on drums. The first couple of numbers were hampered by technical problems and some fussing over the mix, but the band eventually found its groove, with Whitman’s tenor sax and Washington’s intricate drum-work leading the way.
I had never heard Prado play live before last night, so I didn’t quite know what to expect—but then again, defying expectations is one of the things Prado apparently likes to do. His brand of jazz does not sound like it jumped directly out of the Amazon jungle—it sounds more like the music may have started in Peru but then taken a long detour through Southern California, hung out with Spyro Gyra for a summer, slept on Thelonius Monk’s couch for a while, and pitched a tent in John Coltrane’s backyard. Prado mixes all of these influences in unpredictable proportions, alternately flavoring classics with a hint of Latin spice and lacing simple Peruvian folk songs with contemporary jazz.
In concert, Prado is a fan of the slow burn. Playing a Gibson cutaway acoustic-electric guitar, he loves to start out low and quiet, often with a single three- or four-note passage articulated slowly enough to invite impatience. Then layers and textures come into the mix as the individual band members join in, accelerating the whole time until the air is eventually filled with a cacophonous blur of sound. After that, there is no option left except to slow things down and bring it all back to Earth—back to those first few notes.
It’s fun stuff—sophisticated, but accessible. It would be even more fun if a larger crowd was there to see it. The AQ had plenty of empty seats last night—and the cover is only ten bucks—so a few more open minds and ears wouldn’t hurt. The guy is a serious up-and-coming talent who deserves a larger audience.