The music of DePedro sounds great on recordings, but Spanish bandleader Jairo Zavala truly works magic in a live setting, weaving intoxicating rhythms and irresistible melodies into his blend of Andalusian folk-rock and Southwestern border-groove.
Such was the case this past Sunday night when DePedro headlined a show that also featured three Tucson-based bands infused with Latin flavor.
For this gig, DePedro included many Tucson musicians, including Calexico's Joey Burns, Jacob Valenzuela and John Convertino, who have recorded with Zavala in Tucson. Some members of the other opening acts sat in, too. Each of the preceding groups played brief sets to leave room for DePedro to play for about an hour and 15 minutes. Although all gave sizzling performances, there isn't room to mention them all here.
Zavala proved to be a charmer, crooning in a light, slightly hoarse tenor and playing rich acoustic guitar, as well as some jagged leads on electric. He also seemed to attract a predominantly female portion of the packed house close to the foot of the stage. Many of them let loose, vogueing passionately and snaking their hands in the air like gypsy dancers.
Many of DePedro's songs seamlessly connected Old World romanticism, tasteful touches of flamenco fire and European cool with bluesy twang and the constantly evolving rhythms of the Latin music of the New World, from ballads to Caribbean rhythms. Zavala and company played tunes from both DePedro albums, and some of the highlights included "Llorona," "Two Parts in One," "Como el Viento," "Empty Fields" and "Nubes de Papel," the dark and lovely title track from the group's 2010 album. Yep, he sang some tunes in English.
One of the most popular tunes of the evening was the explosive "Comanche," a horn-driven, Latin-soul workout. The crowd went crazy, too, for a cover of the Violent Femmes' "Blister in the Sun," sung by guitarist and keyboardist Lucas Alvarez, a DePedro mainstay from Madrid.
DePedro closed with an encore of the amazing "Don't Leave Me Now," a sexy and dangerous bolero on which the group sounded like the world's most-rockin' Latin lounge act.