Peliroja Brings Latin Jazz To Town Green

Bill O'Brien Photo The Branford Green was jumping on Friday night when the New York Latin Jazz ensemble Peliroja put on a lively program of music inspired by the sounds of Cuba, Ethiopia, the Dominican Republic, and the Congo. Rain had postponed the concert, originally scheduled for July 13.

Bill O'Brien Photo The stage was crowded with nine members of the group, which encouraged the smaller than usual crowd to get up and dance to their spirited music.

Bill O'Brien Photo Pianist Mike Eckroth was the spokesman for the group. He recently completed his Ph.D degree in Jazz Performance at NYU. Jainardo Batista, a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, was the group’s talented vocalist. He comes from a family of music lovers, dancers, and musicians.

Bill O'Brien Photo The balance of the talented ensemble consisted of Ian Stewart on electric bass, Matt Hilgenberg (pictured) on trumpet; Max Goldman drums; Jason Ennis, guitar; Ivan Renta, baritone sax; and Obanilu Illande on percussion.

Bill O'Brien Photo The attractive Layla DaVias was the background singer to Batista.

Bill O'Brien Photo Matt Hilgenberg played a mean trumpet.

Bill O'Brien Photo Here is Ian Stewart on bass guitar.

Bill O'Brien Photo Jason Ennis on guitar is not far away.

Bill O'Brien Photo And Ivan Renta on the baritone sax.

Bill O'Brien Photo Vocalist Jainardo Batista wowed the crowd. 

Bill O'Brien Photo And putting it all together to make perfect sound each week is producer Dennis Nardella.

Bill O'Brien Photo Kids were everywhere and having a great time dancing to the music.

Bill O'Brien Photo Eating Ice cream, too.
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After the concert Dennis Swirsky, who along with his wife Carol are regulars each week on the Green, commented, “I enjoyed this group tonight. Their music was different from most of the other groups that have played here before but it was a nice change and they had a lot of energy that’s for sure.”

Bill O'Brien Photo The Swirskys were at this week’s concert with Mike and Phyllis Stackpole, who just recently celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary. Dennis and Carol Swirsky (in chairs) and Mike and Phyllis Stackpole (on blanket).

Bill O'Brien Photo Also happy with the lively sounds of “Peliroja” was Recreation Department Program Supervisor Victor Amatori, who is also a member of the Jazz Series Committee. “We knew they were the kind of group that people would enjoy because of their enthusiasm and energy, but they were even better than what I thought they would be,” said Amatori. He was there with his wife, Ana.

Even though the committee promoted the rescheduled concert over the preceding week the attendance was less than half of a regular Thursday night concert. “I think there were fewer people because Fridays aren’t the usual night for our concerts or maybe some folks had other plans, like leaving town to start their vacations,” said Amatori. 

Bill O'Brien Photo Meanwhile, The Trinity (Church) “kids” were selling lemonade and ice tea for the Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter.

Bill O'Brien Photo At the end the ensemble takes a well-deserved bow.

Tonight’s jazz concert features Christopher Morrison on guitar and Andrew Beals on sax. The concert begins at 6:30 p.m. on the Green.

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