By Gary R.Beck
After a successful run here last season, Puerto Vallarta welcomes back Luna Rumba. The band was created in 2012 in Zihuatanejo, Mexico when Geo (George) Uhrich met Cheko Ruiz. They soon begin work on songs for a CD. With the help of Chas Eller (Charles Eller Studios LLC and keyboardist of The Banderas Bay Jazz Allstars), the CD was assembled and they played live gigs to cement the sound. The styles are a fusion of Gypsy, Mexican, Spanish, Cuban, Celtic, Flamenco, Middle Eastern and Rock with Rumba rhythms. From beautiful, romantic ballads to fiery dance numbers, the group entices with infectious sounds and beats.
Cheko won finalist award in 2013 in the World Music category of the John Lennon International Songwriting contest and in 2014 honorable mention at the USA International Songwriting Competition for co-writing a song with Geo for best instrumental song. Their first CD “Sin Fronteras” (Without Borders), appropriately titled and entirely self-written, is a fantastic eclectic set of songs, copies are available at the concert.
Cheko is an accomplished vocalist, composer, arranger and rhythm guitarist. Geo is an inspiring, accomplished musician and composer who plays nylon and electric guitars and 5 string violin. Alex Gonzalez rules his set of drums masterfully, including a box on which he sits on called a cajon Peruano. The two Mexicans and one Canadian blend sounds into rhythms, evoking the area of Catalonia: northern Spain and Southern France. Catalan music has one of the oldest documented musical traditions in Europe. Early American rumba was introduced into American dance salons at the beginning of the 20th century, characterized by a tempo nearly twice as fast as the modern ballroom rumba.
For further excitement, a lovely dancer Lilly Alcantara appears often. She is dressed in coordination with the tunes in long flowing skirts and form-fitting Latin attire. A bright Brazilian outfit was particularly impressive, especially her tall feathery dancehall hat. It looked like she had stepped on stage at the Tropicana in Havana, Cuba.
The band is confident, sure and united in its musical approach. Smooth lilts are followed by wild and driving riffs. Written by Geo, “Violin Song” created a warm relationship with the audience. “Shambo” was a wild uptempo jaunt which pulsated and rocked the body.
Phenomenal ballads stir your heart. The Mexican standard song popularized by Lola Beltron, “Cucurrucuco Paloma” (Spanish for Coo-coo Dove, in reference to the dove’s onomatopoeia) stunningly beautiful, stood out from past heard versions resulting in a unique brand new song.
“Vamoa Rumbear” is driving and energetic. “Love to Eros” pleads softly, almost plaintive. Suddenly the group breaks into an uptempo romp. “Junta a Tu” is Cheko’s standout. The room hushed in silence listening to his fine vocals. He is backed by harmonious vocals and lightly strummed guitar rhythm. “Caravana” inspired a vision of galloping horses, possibly across the Spanish plains.
Luna Rumba will steal your heart away. The Puerto Vallarta Bahia de Banderas Area is privileged to have this fine professional group here to thrill our ears and spirits.
Act II Box Office and The Palm opens at noon for ticket purchases. Also, check this website which offers tickets for top local shows. www.vallartatickets.com