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Live Reviews

Max Pollak's Rumba Tap With The Paul Carlon Octet + Dance Brazil
August 1, 2008

By Ernest Barteldes

Central Park Summerstage
New York, NY

A pleasant summer evening greeted audiences that flocked to Rumsey Playfield for a dance program that began as Max Pollak's Rumba Tapdance group took the stage backed by Paul Carlon's octet, which was augmented by two singers and a vibist, who helped take the experience to greater heights by bringing forth jazz-inflected grooves to the mix.


Carlon and Pollak are longtime collaborators – they have traveled extensively together doing music and dance research. On a recently released disc, Lo Que Somos Lo Que Sea (Deep Tone Records) credited to Grupo Los Santos successfully looks at Latin and Brazilian jazz from an American point of view, resulting in a mixed sonic bag that allows influences from funk and East Coast jazz into the music without compromising the general sound and feel.


That was evidenced at this shot set. One of the highlights was a traditional Bulgarian tune that had a few elements of Cuba and Mozambique included into it – Pollak created impressive tap moves to accompany it, and all the members of his company seemed to enjoy what they were doing as much as those in the audience were.


They closed the presentation with their take on Tito Puente's “Mambo,” tune included on the soundtrack of 2001's Mambo Kings. For that tune, the dancers seemed to go for their last reserves of energy, frantically moving to the song's uptempo groove.


After a very short, break, New York-based Dance Brazil took the stage, showcasing  their interesting blend of capoeira moves, modern and classical dance into one package. Backed by a live trio, the company attracted an unexpectedly large crowd formed by many expat Brazilians, who cheered to their breathtaking moves.


Founded in 1977 by Bahia-born choreographer Jelon Vieira, the group is credited with introducing capoeira to American audiences and also taking Afro-Brazilian music and dance into a highly artistic, professional level.