'The smallest big band in the world'

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There's a bit of 21st-century technology hidden onstage during Walter & David's performances at La Brique Steak House.

But aside from that, as far as the duo is concerned, it's 1947.

Walter Lakota and Dave Alcantar, who both sing and play multiple instruments, put on a big band jazz show the fourth Friday of every month at the Huntington Beach restaurant. Typically, they're joined by two or three other horn players, but thanks to some fancy programming on Alcantar's electronic keyboard, you might mistake it for a whole orchestra.

"We're probably the smallest big band in the world," Lakota said.

The musicians aren't the only ones who get into the '40s spirit. La Brique's staff clears out several tables to provide a dance floor, and audience members — including younger ones — have been known to break into steps from more than 50 years ago.

Owner Mike Franco, who signed Walter & David late last year, said he knew they would be a good fit when customers began walking up and tipping them during their audition. The duo plays in many styles, from Latin to disco to '80s rock, but when Franco saw the audience reaction to their big band sound, he decided to make it a monthly showcase.

"A lot of the young people really like it," he said. "They like it as much as, or more than, people who have heard it before."

Like their audience, the band leaders are eclectic. Lakota was born in Italy, moved to New York at age 9 and has played in movies and on TV; Alcantar grew up in Los Angeles and learned big band from his father, a jazz musician. The two met on the Southern California music scene and have played together for 14 years.

Although the big band shows are only in their second month at La Brique, the duo has already started a tradition of lining up different guests every fourth Friday. Joining the ensemble this weekend will be trombonist and pianist Paul Eshelman, trumpeter and flugelhorn player Tom Shear and saxophonist Jesse Lagmay. Alcantar, who has a gig with his Journey tribute band, will be replaced by his brother, John.

Alcantar noted that even those unfamiliar with big band may identify a few tunes Friday.

"It's not just a big band," he said. "We take some Sinatra, some Dean Martin and Bobby Darin songs and put them in big-band style."

If You Go

Who: Walter & David with special guests

Where: La Brique Steak House, 14892 Springdale St., Huntington Beach

When: 7 to 11 p.m. Friday

Cost: Free

Information: (714) 897-0055 or http://www.labriquesteakhousehb.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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