The three talented gentlemen who perform together as La Lucha are familiar faces at the Palladium. They do concerts of their own music, and the trio or various subsets thereof are side men on lots of Palladium gigs.
So it’s only appropriate the Palladium played a big part in the birth of their Arbors Records release, Everybody Wants To Rule The World. We’re celebrating that album release (a bit belatedly thanks to a certain virus) this Sunday at 4 p.m. in Hough Hall. That show includes special guests Ken Peplowski (See my prevous blog on Ken) and James Suggs (who was the debut bandleader on our Palladium Live video project). Follow this link for tickets for Sunday’s concert.
It was through the Palladium that the eclectic and international trio – Mark Feinman (USA), John O’Leary (Mexico) and Alejandro Arenas (Colombia) – met the great D.C. vibraphonist and drummer Chuck Redd. And during a fall 2019 concert in the Side Door with Chuck they were approached by Rachel Domber, who runs Arbors Records in Clearwater. The label is a recording home for some of the biggest names in contemporary, swing and trad jazz.
Rachel wanted an album and she wanted it quickly. She encouraged the band to bring in big name musical guests and also wanted La Lucha to be themselves. What does that mean? The boys descirbe it well on their website: La Lucha’s music “ventures boldly into a wide variety of musical styles, offering an appealing and fun mix of genres under the jazz umbrella.
That means you’ll get samba and bossa, a rethinking of American songbook classics, alongside jazz reinventions of David Bowie, or even Britney Spears, and some electronica thrown in just because they can.
We are musical chameleons in that way,” said Alejandro Arenas.
By December the boys were in Reservoir Studios in New York, ready with a mixed bag of tunes and arrangements, with the great clarinet and sax star Ken Peplowski playing and producing. Diego Figueiredo, the world-class Brazilian guitarist was also on board, along with Melissa Aldana, a Chilean saxophone player, and a former winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition.
The last guest they lined up with another saxophone great, the legendary Houston Person.
The boys had met Houston at the Sarasota Jazz Festival and Mark had been inspired to write a tune called Blues For Houston Person. When Peplowski sent Houston a demo he was excited about playing on his namesake tune.
The three days were magical and while the pandemic forced the cancellation of an April album release party at the Palladium Side Door, and delayed the album release itself until June 12, La Lucha’s big label debut quickly struck a nerve in the jazz world.
“Our first week was the highest debut they had. We landed at 16, then we gravitated close to Top 10 for a few weeks,” Mark Feiman told me. In all the album spent 15 weeks among the Top 50 jazz releases in the country.
This Sunday’s 4 p.m. concert will feature Peplowski as a special guest, along with trumpeter James Suggs. The boys promise that audiences will get a taste of the entire album.
For tickets and more information about Sunday’s show you can follow this link.
I look forward to seeing you Sunday at the show!