Critic's Top 5 Latin Music Events

Esperanza Spalding performs as part of Jazz in the Gardens.

Gilberto Gil

This Brazilian legend is one of the most riveting, profound and enduring popular musicians in his home country, an artist with both soul and stature. Since 1988, Gil has also been a mainstay of the Rhythm Foundation, Miami’s premiere presenter of world music. So it’s fitting that Gil will headline the group’s kickoff celebration of its 25th anniversary season at an intimate solo concert and gala dinner and party. That season includes French lounge-punk act Nouvelle Vague (which now includes Miami singer Liset Alea) on Nov. 2 at downtown club Grand Central and 21stt century big band Pink Martini on Jan. 19 at the Fillmore Miami Beach. But none is likely to pack a more powerful musical wallop than Gil, alone on his guitar.

Oct. 21 at New World Center on Miami Beach

Red Baraat

World music encompasses ever more eclectic and global combinations. A prime example is Brooklyn’s (a city with an international population) Red Baraat, which blends two funky dance styles from opposite sides of the global and musical spectrum, Indian Bhangra and New Orleans brass. Miami’s own pan-Latin funk orchestra, the Spam Allstars, open.

March 23 at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center

Equis “X” Alfonso

This Cuban musician stands out in a country of exceptional musicians. The son of the leaders of Sintesis, a group that mixed traditional Afro-Cuban Santeria music with jazz and rock, Alfonso has pushed the traditional-contemporary-eclectic mix even further with a charisma and intensity that lifts it above muddy fusion. He and his vibrant young group were the hottest Cuban act at rock star Juanes’ landmark 2009 concert in Havana. Alfonso comes to the heart of Cuban Miami with a concert, Reverse, a fusion of African drumming, orchestral music, flamenco and Cuban rumba.

Nov. 17 at Miami-Dade County Auditorium

Yemen Blues

Some of the newest and most intriguing flavors in the world music stew come from the Middle East and Northern Africa. Get a taste with Yemen Blues, a group whose members hail from Israel, New York and Uruguay, blending American blues and funk, West African and Jewish, ancient and modern musics into a soulful, polyglot mix.

Nov. 10 at downtown’s Grand Central, brought by Miami Dade Live Arts

Esperanza Spalding

This bassist and singer is a unique class act, from her weighty instrument (not your usual star vehicle), to the way she straddles jazz profundity with popular appeal (in 2011 she was the first jazz musician to win the Best New Artist Grammy). Spalding and her 12-piece ensemble will wind up the Arsht Center’s six concert Live at Knight music series with Radio Music Society. (Other Live at Knight highlights include the Oct. 19 opener, featuring ambitious rapper Talib Kweli with electronic artist Res).

April 19 at the Adrienne Arsht Center


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