[dropcap size=big]G[/dropcap]rand Performances, in its 33rd year, found itself at a crossroads this year. Hailed as one of the best free concert series in Los Angeles, the non-profit performance organization faced a problem that many live music venues were dealing with during the time of COVID-19.
Making a quick pivot, the group decided to host a series of online concert films with an emphasis on a cinematic experience, similar to their live performances. Tomorrow, Jungle Fire, the nine-member ensemble already known for lighting up live stages across the country with their brand of salsa, soul, afro-beat, cumbia, and funk will take the virtual stage. L.A. Taco is pleased to premiere a track from their performance.
The band was slated to have one of their most significant years yet with the release of their most recent self-titled album this past February, followed by an international tour as well as performances on Morning Become Eclectic. Speaking with founding member and percussionist Alberto López, “There’s no money in anything right now, but everybody needs to do art,” referring to how he and his bandmates are staying busy during this strange time.
The group made up of an arsenal of studio musicians who have played with LCD Soundsystem, Celia Cruz, Stevie Wonder, Ozomatli, Natalia Lafourcade, and Stanley Clarke are the perfect group to bridge the gap between studio recording and live performances. They perfectly fit the particular niche that Grand Performance is known for as well their foray into the online platform. GP kicked off the series last month with a performance from local songstress and muse Mia Doi Todd.
On their most recent album released on Nacional Records, JF’s music can transform your aural surroundings, taking you on an adventure to new and far-out places. Perfect for these days when you are stuck at home and are looking for a dose of escapism.
“Together” is a cover from Salsa-acid maestro Ray Barretto off his 1969 Fania Records release. Despite the age of the track, Baretto’s sound and groove serve as a perfect cosmic fit for Jungle Fire and their ability to deliver its musical message. It’s a song with a timeliness quality due to its lyrical subject matter, extolling a strong message of unity. “It has a history of feeling really good, and the message of the song is awesome,” said Lopez.
Featuring vocalist Jamie Allensworth, who sing the lyrics “I know a beautiful truth, and it's helped me be free/I know I'm Black, and I'm White, and I'm Red, yeah/ The blood of mankind flows through me/ And so in every, in every face I see/I see a part, I see a part of you and me/Together.
For a band not known for covering other artists, let alone tracks featuring vocals, the group initially released the song via theirBandcamp last month. “We wanted it to be a special thing, supporting Black Lives Matter LA, which is a pretty important thing to us,” said Lopez. “Black culture is the spine of everything we do,” referring to the Afro-Latino influence on the band.
“It really conjures up that spirit of bringing people together,” said Lopez on why performing on the GP stage is a perfect fit for Jungle Fire. It is a message that serves as an important reminder in favor of togetherness ringing especially true, in this time of social distancing.
Jungle Fire at Grand Performances will be released today at 8 PM via Grand Performance YouTube Page.
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