Editus, a Costa Rican ensemble best known in the United States for its work with singer Ruben Blades, turned its concert at the Kennedy Center on Thursday night into a swiftly paced, globe-trotting excursion. Performing in the KC Jazz Club, the core trio, augmented by keyboardist Walter Flores and electric bassist Marco Navarro, embraced its native music along with Argentine, Peruvian and Afro-Caribbean influences, jazz harmonies, classical designs and Arabic rhythms. Quite a trip indeed.
The trio, consisting of guitarist Edin Solis, violinist Ricardo Ramirez and percussionist Carlos "Tapado" Vargas, sustained a level of smoothly honed interplay despite the frequent shifts in mood, tempo, meter and dynamics. Ramirez's rhapsodic flair and Solis's crisp tone ensured that bright and lively melodies were kept in the foreground while Vargas fashioned a series of sharply syncopated backdrops, combining indigenous beats with elements of clave, funk and swing.
Most of the music was composed by Solis and Flores, and some of it, particularly "Piazzolando," a homage to the late Argentine tango composer Astor Piazzolla, was wonderfully evocative and vibrantly orchestrated. With the help of Flores and Navarro, the band had no difficultly moving from the folkloric "Lando" and the atmospheric "Mar del Sur" to tunes that boasted sophisticated chord progressions, dashing lyricism and fiery solos. The band's fascination with jazz-rock fusion and world beat also inspired arrangements that suggested the influence of Jean-Luc Ponty and Pat Metheny.
The concert was part of the Kennedy Center's ongoing AmericArtes series, a celebration of Latin American culture.
-- Mike Joyce