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Weekly Latin Jazz Video Fix: Venissa Santi


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Musical opportunities need to be grabbed when they arise, and sometimes those opportunities rarely become available. When a musician lives in our community, they perform often in easily accessible places. Since we realize that we can hear them perform regularly, we get our fill of their artistry on a reoccurring basis. These musicians become the bread and butter of our Latin Jazz experience, but we need to provide some variety to our live music repertoire. A particularly inspiring recording from artists that reside far from home often leaves us desiring a live performance, and we can only hope for a visit. When these wishes become a reality, we need to jump upon the opportunity; a traveling musician offers a unique chance for us since their appearances happen less frequently. We need to prioritize these events and make sure that we attend their shows. Sometimes artists make regular trips to our communities while other times they may only appear every few years. The first trip serves as the most important venture to support though; the financial success of that first venture may dictate the reality of upcoming events. When those rare first performances from a traveling musician occur, its an essential musical opportunity that we simply must support.

Latin Jazz fans in the Los Angeles area will get one of those rare musical opportunities this week when vocalist Venissa Santi performs at the Catalina Bar & Grill. Residing in the Philadelphia area, Sant has built an impressive artistic identity and strong following over the past few years. Born into a Cuban family, Sant grew up in Ithaca, New York, soaking up a diverse musical diet and eventually delving into songwriting and vocals. She moved to Philadelphia, where she majored in music at the University Of The Arts and developed her skills in jazz vocals. As her exposure grew, her appreciation for Cuban grandfathers compositions blossomed into a major connection with her roots. She traveled to Cuba several times, studying traditional music, such as rumba and Santeria songs. The culmination of her studies, journeys, and personal exploration arose on the 2008 independent release of Bienvenida. Sant brought Cuban folklore, traditional jazz, rock-edged blues, and a soulful vocal approach together into an outstanding mixture that signaled the immergence of a distinctive voice. In 2009, Sunnyside Records re-released Bienvenida to a wider audience, garnering praise and appreciation for Sants skills. As the word of her musical presence expands, Sant is building a significant fan base and the demand for live performances has grown.

The Los Angeles area gets a treat this week as Santi travels to the West Coast for a rare performance, giving a lucky audience a must-hear musical opportunity. In order to encourage Los Angeles Latin Jazz fans to attend the show, were dedicating this weeks Latin Jazz Video Fix to Sant with three clips. The first video provides some background on Sant and features her band performing Talkin To You. The second clip highlights an interview between composer John Hollenbeck and Sant, in preparation for a piece that featured the singer. The last piece finds Sant singing as a guest with saxophonist Jane Bunnett and her group Spirits Of Havana. Hopefully Sants performance will encourage future return trips and maybe even a journey up to the San Francisco Bay Area Ill keep my fingers crossed. Enjoy!

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This story appears courtesy of The Latin Jazz Corner by Chip Boaz.
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