Lady Son & Articulo Veinte
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Lady Son & Articulo Veinte

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Monday, October 30, 2006

LIVE MUSIC REPORT : LADY SON

Current mood: good

Category: Music

Our Lady of Son
by Dan Donaldson — Photo by Roger Humbert

For men in Latin Music, there are a hundred heroes to emulate: for women there is one that stands above all others. Lady Son, who took to the Lula Lounge stage Saturday, may be as close as Toronto will get to our own Celia Cruz.
Lady Son started to get noticed when she appeared on Toronto's Latin scene almost a year ago, and since then, she's gone from strength to strength, refining a fluid, driving sound that propels the dance floor and gives props to a long and glorious tradition rooted in Cuba. Her 9-piece band, Articulo Veinte, has been there the whole way, tighter than many bands with many more years of playing behind them.
Articulo Veinte is a horn-driven band, with a sound that veers into NuYorican/Fania territory. Patrick Blanchard is a mainstay on trombone, and Teppei Kamai on trumpet doubles on vocals. Both are players that keep the sound of Lady Son solid, if without high-note fireworks. But in this Lula show, electrified trés guitarist Ilan Allesson sat in for both the regular guitarist and, by providing the montuno that drives Cuban Son, the regular keyboard player, Joshua Ariz as well. Ariz is a flamboyant player, and a keystone of the band, but Allesson managed to connect both sets to the Cuban vibe.

Yeti Ajasin (Lady Son)
Kicking off with a Puerto Rican standard, "Lloraras", made famous by the great Oscar d'Leon, the band easily shaped this dance floor magnet, with a trés solo that conjured Nico Saquito setting the tone, and followed by "Kamai". Lady Son's vocals on this song are all about punch and drive, even though the audience seemed happy to sit back and watch.
The band then moved into two Cuban classics that many in the audience no doubt knew from Buena Vista Social Club's great original album: "Candela", followed by "Tula". Here the audience figured out that this is music to mueve la cintura. They filled the floor, which is pretty much where they stayed for the rest of the night.
By now, Lady Son's vocals were in stride. She seems to effortlessly maintain extended improvised vocal lines that build the rhythm of the band. While she may lack the operatic qualities of Celia Cruz, she has the melodic sense that keeps the sweetness of the Cuban sound that La Reina had. At times percussive and driving, as on Celia Cruz's hit "Quimbara", and then sweet and sultry on Cheo Feliciano's "El Raton", the band and Lady Son were even able to shift things to a Cumbia feel with a dash of Calypso in tunes like "Carnaval".

Naomi Jonas, spending most of her time on vocal and rhythm, stepped up on violin on a few tunes. Her style is more gypsy than charanga, but it sounds great, lilting and harmonically expansive.
While it's easy to peg Lady Son as a vocalist, she positions herself behind the congas, and certainly makes a contribution to the drive of the band. The percussive drive comes from its bongo player, Michel De Quevedo, who pulled out a terrific solo. Still, Lady Son answered with a stand-up conga solo that was on the mark. If this band has a weakness, in my opinion it's the use of kit drum where timbales would drive things up a notch, especially on the Tito Puente and Fania influenced material they cover. Kit drummer Max Sennit provides a solid beat, and is a timbales player. It would be interesting to see him in this band on the instrument that is so strongly associated with the rhythmic extremes of Latin music. But that's just picking at threads, this band is tight and exciting and they have Canada's best female salsa vocalist driving them.
Salsa is a music that had already traveled long and far from Cuba before getting to New York. At a previous show, Lady Son announced, "I'm not Cuban, but I love Cuban music". Lady Son herself, who is part Nigerian, and part Italian exemplifies, in her way, what Latin Music is in Canada: music that you can embrace, and live inside of. It may be from somewhere else, but it's here now, and it's ours.
Canada is Latin Music's latest destination, and Lady Son and Articulo Veinte are among the latest and the best at finding a way to express its drive, joy and sweet sexiness.

- Live Music Report


Highlights? There were many! Probably the overall winner - Lady Son Y Articulo Veinte fronted by director, lead vocalist and congas Yeti Ajasin. Ajasin is of mixed Italian, Jewish and Nigerian background. Born in Canada but well versed in salsa, Guajiro and Son Montuno - Ajasin's performance was electrifying. As she played and sang an unseen current soared through the grounds - out of the park down Queen Street east and west. It was unrelenting rhythms and stingin g horns that fed the excitement....
As I gave my closing words, I could see from the thousands of faces
in the crowd, that o ur 20th year - had come to a very satisfying conclusion!
BIJF Artistic Director - Bill King - Bill King - Artistic Director Beaches Jazz Festival


Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Entertainment Columnists / Errol Nazareth
First Lady of salsa
Immersing herself in Cuban sounds has led to a kind of musical liberation for Yeti Ajasin

Mention Ruben Blades' name to Yeti Ajasin -- a.k.a. Lady Son -- and watch her face light up. Mention 1992's The Best of Ruben Blades CD, and you'll likely have a spirited conversation on your hands about the popular Panamanian political singer.

Not only did that album blow Ajasin's mind, but it inspired her to embark on an amazing journey that's culminated in her solid debut album, something she never predicted.

While Blades' album turned her into a Cuban music fiend, it was a cultural exchange program that she participated in when she was in Grade 11 in Toronto that sowed the seeds for her love of the music.

"I returned from my first trip to Cuba with a passion for the culture, the people, the music, and the language," Ajasin says. "I was determined at that point to master Spanish and I did that via cassettes and formal academics."

Ajasin, who double majored in French and Spanish at York University's language program, says she's always had a gift for picking up languages. She says she has "an acute ear which has aided me in my ability to sound authentic while singing in a language that is not my first."

Ajasin's momentous trip to Cuba and growing love affair for the music was cemented when her best friend at the time, Joshua Ariz -- who ended up co-founding Ajasin's band, Lady Son y Articulo Veinte -- gave her Blades' best-of album.

"I was hooked! There was no turning back," she recalls. "I began collecting and intensely studying every renowned Latin artist, no matter what genre they represented. Another trip to Cuba allowed me the opportunity to enhance my knowledge of hand percussion since I only had experience playing the drum kit in my high school band and jazz program."

Ajasin studied Latin percussion at Cuba's University of Holguin and the Jose Maria Ochoa School of Music & Performing Arts and with master Cuban percussionist Hector Mon, who lives here.

Ajasin's story is as interesting as her background, and for me, it makes her the quintessential Toronto music story.

Where else would you find an Italian-Jewish-Nigerian-Canadian who didn't speak Spanish singing and playing congas in a multicultural salsa band and also leading a Latin rap group? Oh, and she's also a member of the groundbreaking group SalsAfrica.

And she's accomplished this in a male-dominated Latin music scene.

"Being a woman and being non-Cuban has definitely been a challenge," admits Ajasin, whose salsa band Lady Son y Articulo Veinte perform at Lula Lounge tomorrow.

"It's been difficult to gain the respect and acknowledgement from much of the Cuban community.

"This continues to boggle my mind since I'm accomplished, creative and a direct descendent of the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria -- whose music is the heart and the pulse of Cuban music," she adds.

"The Cuban community has not discovered that inclusion rather than exclusion could enhance their lives and musical journeys.

"It's also sad that within the local Latin music scene there's limited support of each other. The challenge for women, as it is in many professions, is for us to be taken seriously."

Semillas, the just-released album from Lady Son y Articulo Veinte, should shut the haters up.

Produced by local Latin music mainstay Luisito Orbegoso, the disc features killer arrangements and Ajasin's powerful, warm voice driving the proceedings. Add to that her ace percussion playing and the fact she wrote all the music and lyrics.

"Playing music has always been my passion, my abilities as a songwriter simply came to me, and I didn't discover my singing voice until I was 23," she says.

"I have combined all these things to become the artist who I am."

Lady Son y Articulo Veinte is at Lula Lounge tomorrow.

The show starts at 10 p.m.

$15 gets you in.

1585 Dundas St. W.

416-588-0307 - Errol Nazareth - The Sun


Discography

Semillas - 2009 First release. XTSC music - Indie.

Listen to a live recording of Lady Son y Articulo 20 at CBC's concerts on demand. Go to http://www.cbc.ca/radio2/cod/concerts/20080712ladys

Photos

Bio

Lady Son y Articulo Veinte exude a vibe never seen or heard before.

Lady Son brings classic Afro-Latin roots into a new century, combining different musical genres and sounds while maintaining the essence, history and roots of the NuYorican style Salsa and Guajiro culture Son Montuno from Cuba. Every song has an important message about life, love, and the social issues that affect us all. Lady Son honours the great Salseros and Soneros of the 20th century by remembering them and continuing to add to this diverse and pulsating genre of Latin music.
Considered one of the top voices in the Canadian Music Scene today, Yeti Ajasin (A.K.A. Lady Son) has been making waves and carving a name for herself and her band in Toronto and beyond for the past three years.
Rich, powerful vocals combined with the knowledge, understanding and passion Yeti has for what she does, make her performance second to none. She is also the conga player for the band, adding intricate rhythms while singing the lead vocals, making her a huge hit to her audiences. Yeti is able to capture the magic that music is made of, and transfer her energy and presence to every single person she comes across.
Yeti always had rhythm and dance in her heart. Though born and raised in Canada, her mixed Italian/Nigerian/Jewish background has greatly contributed to her musical taste. Her love for Latin rhythms originated in Cuba and has been the driving force behind her music.
Yeti has studied percussion extensively and has completed various workshops in Latin percussion at the University of Holguin and the Jose Maria Ochoa School of Music and Performing Arts, both in Cuba. She was also trained in Toronto by Master Conga Player Hector Mon (A.K.A. Picolino) and graduated from her high school music program in jazz performance (on the drum kit). Though she now studies languages at York University in Toronto, her musical studies have allowed Yeti to become adept at reading and teaching music, fine-tuning her technique, and composing her own original material.

Experience the fuego... SABOR!
Articulo Veinte (A20) is a truly Canadian project. The idea was born here, with all Canadian musicians of different cultural backgrounds, and maintains an authentic sound true to the nature of Cuban Son and NuYorican Salsa.
From Russia, to Japan, to Israel, Nigeria, Mexico, El Salvador, and even Etobicoke Toronto - A20 has been around the world and back! The musicians represent the melting pot of this wonderful city and the fact that we as Canadians can also live within the wonderful sounds of music from other cultures. A20 is warm and approachable as is their music.