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Cuba Sextet Recaptures Its ‘60s Magic

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

In the ‘60s, it seemed the Joe Cuba Sextet could do no wrong. The epitome of the cool bandleader, Cuba had one of tropical music’s best singers in Cheo Feliciano, and the group enjoyed a couple of U.S. mainstream hit singles, including 1967’s “Oh Yeah!”

On Thursday at the Conga Room, the sextet proved that some of the magic is still alive.

The absence of the incomparable Feliciano, however, made you feel envious of those fortunate enough to have witnessed the group at its prime.

The outfit’s signature sound is a complex combination of the delicate and the vigorous.

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Framed by the timbales, the bass and Cuba’s own congas, the vibes were the absolute protagonists of the musical storytelling at hand.

The band came to life during the evening’s second set, first with the fiery “Tartara,” an opportunity for singer Alfredo Torres to offer some noteworthy vocal improvisations.

The inspiration continued with the sinuous bolero “Incomparable” and a rollicking version of the Cuban classic “La Negra Tomasa,” during which the band loosened up and offered some of the tastiest instrumental touches of the evening.

It was enough to redeem the sextet’s hard-core fans, giving the evening a vitality that overcame any nostalgic connotations.

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