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Cuban salsa star Issac Delgado heats up SF Jazz 2/17/10 2:40 PM

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Cuban salsa star Issac Delgado heats up


SF Jazz
Tamara Straus
Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Salsa star heats up bimbo's

Cuban salsa star Issac Delgado is headed to Bimbo's


365 Club on Friday for back-to-back dance parties as
part of the SFJazz Spring Season. Delgado pioneered the timba style, which he calls "harmonized rumba."

"My sound is a mix of Afro-Cuban music, Cuban music and the interpretations of those sounds as
expressed through Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Colombia, etc.," he said. "Timba is more rhythmically
sophisticated Cuban music. The bass, piano and percussion can create really exciting and delicious
polyrhythmic sounds."

Delgado grew up in a musical family - his mother was an actress and singer in the Teatro Musical de
La Habana, and his brother became a guitarist and composer. Delgado began singing professionally in
the early 1980s with the Orquestra de Pacho Alonso and within a few years was touring the world,
recording his own albums and wowing critics. (Peter Watrous in the New York Times wrote: "When he
sang, he sounded as if he'd never strained at anything in his life. ... When he sang against just the drums,
his voice never faltered, concrete and hard and sure of its position ... his was the Cuban form of the
blues.")

In 2006, Delgado walked across the U.S.-Mexico border with his wife and two daughters, defecting
because traveling from Cuba was becoming too difficult. "It was so hard," said Delgado, "to leave family,
roots, friends. And professionally, my artistic base was there."

But he is finding new roots here. In San Francisco, where he's played often, Delgado said, "I have been
inspired and motivated by many musicians. I give thanks to all of them."

Keeper of 'fiddler' flame

"Fiddler on the Roof" resides in Sammy Dallas Bayes' DNA. Bayes danced in the original 1964
production, appeared in and served as the associate choreographer for the 1971 movie and now is
directing and choreographing the current reprisal, playing at San Francisco's Golden Gate Theatre through
Sunday. Not only that, for 45 years, Bayes has been the keeper of Jerome Robbins' original
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Cuban salsa star Issac Delgado heats up SF Jazz 2/17/10 2:40 PM

Sunday. Not only that, for 45 years, Bayes has been the keeper of Jerome Robbins' original
choreography and direction.

Why has a musical about a 1905 Russian Jewish milkman with five unmarried daughters endured? Bayes
points to the universality of story - the never-dated and culturally transcendent conflict between the
generations. "I remember when we performed the play in Japan in 1967," said Bayes. "A reporter asked,
'How come you're doing a play about Japanese people?' " Bay, laughing, also points to the score. "It never
gets tiresome."

But producing the musical in 2010 does present challenges. Among the greatest, said Bayes, "is to allow
the actors to bring something of their own to the table," rather than mimic the well-known performances
of Zero Mostel, Chaim Topol, Maria Karnilova and others. "Casting the correct people is key," said
Bayes. "And then you have to hope to God you chose well."

A toast to brown

Theophilus "Bill" Brown has not been a reclusive artist. He knew Picasso in Paris, was friends with
John Cage and the de Koonings in New York and, after moving to Berkeley in 1952 to study painting at
UC Berkeley, joined a group of emerging artists - including Richard Diebenkorn, David Park, Elmer
Bischoff, James Weeks and Nathan Oliveira - who would later be known as the Bay Area Figurative
movement. While attending UC Berkeley, Brown also met his longtime partner, fellow painter Paul
Wonner.

Brown, 90, is far from retired. He paints three to four hours a day and participates in weekly drawing
sessions at the San Francisco Collage Collective. Until Feb. 27, he is the subject of a one-man show,
"Theophilus Brown: Nudes - Five Decades of Drawing and Painting the Figure," at the Thomas
Reynolds Gallery (thomasreynolds.com). Brown will hold a "scotch tasting" 6-8 p.m. Saturday at the
gallery. The choice of scotch "is a testament to his strong spirit," said Thomas Reynolds. "He's a scotch
drinker, so why fool around with cheap white wine? Plus, Bill attributes his long life to two things: good
art and good scotch."

Youtube star

Twenty-five-year-old cellist Joshua Roman is the rare classical musician to be a dubbed a rock star by
the press. Yes, he has great hair and a magnetic stage presence. But the real reason for the flattery has to
do with his versatility as a performer and his exploration of new concertos, chamber music and solo cello
works with composers such as Aaron Jay Kernis, Mason Bates and Dan Visconti. One of his current
undertakings is an online video series called "The Popper Project": Wherever he and his laptop find
themselves, he performs an etude from David Popper's "High School of Cello Playing" and uploads
it, unedited, to his YouTube channel. In fact, Roman is the only guest artist to be invited to play an
unaccompanied solo with the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. Tonight through Saturday, Roman will
make his San Francisco Symphony debut performing Haydn's Cello Concerto No. 1. Expect groupies.
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Cuban salsa star Issac Delgado heats up SF Jazz 2/17/10 2:40 PM

make his San Francisco Symphony debut performing Haydn's Cello Concerto No. 1. Expect groupies.

E-mail Tamara Straus at dateletters@sfchronicle.com.

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This article appeared on page F - 5 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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