Tom Duarte/Diamante
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Tom Duarte/Diamante

Band Latin Jazz


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"Arts Piece 1/17/06 - Duarte brings Latin Fusion to life at Cafe Capoeira"

Arts Piece 1/17/06 - Duarte brings Latin fusion to life at Café Capoeira
by Juliana Birnbaum

Bringing the rhythms of Brazil to meet flamenco guitar and Latin jazz, Tom Duarte and his band Diamante played a crowded Café Capoeira last Friday night in Berkeley. The evening broke new ground in several ways: as a creative expression of the fusion of several musical styles, as a new adventure of a group of talented instrumentalists, and as a part of establishing Café Capoeira as an up-and-coming venue for Latin music.

In the true sense of the phrase “Latin fusion,” Duarte’s groove expressed the diversity and range of Latin-influenced sound. The group melds samba beats with masterful Spanish guitar styles within songs that venture into the improvisational solos of jazz and psychedelic rock. The band, made up of two guitars, bass, trap drum set and hand percussion, is a new project led by Duarte on lead acoustic and electric guitar. His style finds its roots in traditional Latin music, which he has been studying and performing since the ‘80s.

The band’s set Friday included pieces by Arturo Sandoval, Ray Obiedo and original compositions. The high level of musicianship was obvious and the sound energetic and tight—especially considering that it only the second public appearance of the band.

Duarte's new CD release, Diamante, is described as “a Latin-centric outing that focuses on danceable Brazilian grooves and fiery solo Flamenco pieces.” In the past Tom has toured with keyboardist Merl Saunders and recorded with Gregg Rolie (Santana/Journey keyboardist/vocalist). He is headed to Brazil later this month, and plans to play in Europe this year as well.

“I was really happy with the turnout,” Duarte commented, “especially since the band is new and the venue is still being established.”

Café Capoeira, which is a well-known Capoeira school, café and art gallery in downtown Berkeley, is starting to include more live Latin shows at night. With its brightly painted walls the café has a warm, community feeling, though the dance floor is somewhat hidden behind the stage in the Capoeira practice space.

Both the café and the band show great promise for those interested in innovative Latin music and a fun, relaxed vibe.

- Juliana Birnbaum


As a solo guitarist, I have recorded 2 CD's of Latin and Spanish Classical music: Leyenda and Diamante. I have recorded with several artists, including Gregg Rolie and Michael Carabello of the original Santana and Journey line-up. I have also recorded with Merl Saunders, of Jerry Garcia and Grateful Dead fame.



We are a Latin based band, but we are very diversifed within that description. You will hear Rumba/Flamenco as well as Samba'Reggae, baiao, Funk/Salsa, etc. What I also wanted to achieve was to have a band that could play the Latin grooves convincingly and yet be able to stretch out and jam, somewhat like a funk/jazz unit. We are able to that quite well. We are influenced by the likes of Arturo Sandoval, Chick Corea, Paco de Lucia, Vincente Amigo, et al.