CULTURE- FRIDAYS UPDATE: Gettin' real: Son Quarto adds a few
Son Quatro translates roughly as "There are four of them little buggers," but it's a misnomer: Richmond's favorite salsa machine actually numbers between seven and nine on any given night.
The name may be inappropriate, but it shows how far the band has come. The group did indeed begin as a quartet back in 2004, but its roots go back even farther, to a group called the Latin Cats, which bassist John Acevedo used to play with back around 2001.
"I didn't know anything about salsa music," he laughs. "We used to suck."
While on his honeymoon in 2004, Acevedo was inspired by a group he saw in Miami and started working to recreate their four-piece formula up in Virginia. "We started doing the quartet, and it sounded great," he says.
"Well, it didn't sound great, but it sounded better than the Latin Cats," he adds with a laugh.
"We started doing Cuban music– piano, bass, conga, and timbales," he continues, "and we just couldn't keep other instrumentalists from coming in, because everyone wanted a trumpet and a bongo player."
That set their course for the next few years: more instruments meant more complicated arrangements, and that eventually took them into a totally different sound. "It caused us to change the repertoire of music to something more complicated, more Puerto Rican, more '70s," he says.
Now they're moving the larger ensemble back into a Cuban sound– inspired, predictably enough, by the Buena Vista Social Club. But what's not expected is the rigor with which they're going about it.
"There's no band in the country, really, that emulates Buena Vista," says Acevedo. "Very few bands emulate them in terms of correct, authentic instruments made by Cuban luthiers and correct knowledge of how to play those instruments."
That extends to the lineup: aside from the trumpet players, all the musicians are Hispanic, giving them a deeper cultural understanding of the music than would be found in an infatuated white dude. "I think it's critical in a Latin band for everything, for every instrument," says Acevedo. "If you're Latino, you know this music– you grew up with it. It's like standard jazz, or like '80s music here. Everyone knows Madonna. Everyone can sing a Michael Jackson tune."
Son Quarto plays Fridays After 5, Friday, June 22, at the Downtown Pavilion– guess what time.