Gig review: Salsa Celtica/Mayra Andrade


FORGING the Celtic Connection between Cuba and Cape Verde, Salsa Celtica were preceded on stage by the latter island's fastest-rising star, the enchanting young singer Mayra Andrade, who greeted the near-capacity crowd at her debut Scottish gig by saying she hoped to come back soon and often.

Blending her homeland's post-colonial African, Portuguese and Brazilian influences with shades of jazz, pop, funk, reggae and ska, her seductively cool yet lambent voice floated, flirted and yearned over rootsy, slinky backing from her five-piece band, winning a roomful of new fans in an all-too short 40 minutes.

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Salsa Celtica themselves triumphantly pulled out all the stops to celebrate their first 15 years, augmenting their core 11-piece with a guest list that swelled the total cast to around 25, extending the connections to link in the Bronx, Ireland and Spain, taking in Hothouse Flowers frontman Liam Maonlai, Altan accordionist Dermot Byrne, Asturian piper Jose Manuel Tejedor and New York trombonist/flautist Joey de Jesus.

In terms of the folk elements welded so seamlessly into the band's unique musical alloy, there was a virtual contemporary-trad supergroup among the throng, with the guest stars joined by regular collaborators like pipers Ross Ainslie and Jarlath Henderson, fiddlers Chris Stout and Mathieu Watson, Gaelic singer Kathleen MacInnes, harpist Catriona McKay and banjo demon Eamonn Coyne.

With the Latin contingent including a four-strong brass section, three percussionists, and the potently paired voices of Lino Rocha and Ricardo Fernandez Pompa, this thoroughly-rehearsed performance magnificently showcased a group of musicians who have truly come of age.