BOBBY MATOS AND HIS AFRO-LATIN JAZZ ENSEMBLE at Una Mas (422 Adelaide West), Saturday (June 23). $25/advance, $30/door.416-703-4862. Rating: NNNNN
Latin music trends come and go, but you can always depend on driven Los Angeles percussionist Bobby Matos to deliver the hardcore Afro-Cuban beats. On his cooking Mambo Jazz (Cu-Bop) disc, Matos leads the combined forces of his own ensemble and John Santos's Machete with the same tenacious attack documented 35 years earlier on his classic My Latin Soul (Phillips) debut.
Of course, the rhythmic and melodic sophistication of Matos's brilliant orchestrations -- like Ya Se Ve and Oye Mi Querida from Mambo Jazz -- goes far beyond the boisterous boogaloo bashing of My Latin Soul, but the fiery Matos still swings with the vitality of a hyperactive teenager.
"Oh, man," Matos chuckles from his Los Angeles home, "that album gets played more now than it ever did back in the 60s. It was a tax write-off for the label, so it was never promoted.
"Back then I was part of the whole freelance Latin rhythm section contingent in New York, subbing on sessions and picking up gigs with Joe Loco, Charlie Palmieri and Ray Rivera.
"The older musicians, like Tito Puente, were very committed to helping us younger players. He would introduce me to people with, "Bobby's got the hottest Latin jazz combo on the West Coast!' He didn't have to do that, but he was a real sweetheart."
Although Matos is considered one of the few hardcore Afro-Latin holdouts on the West Coast, he insists the Los Angeles scene isn't as laid-back as it's commonly perceived to be.
"You'd be surprised. There are probably more groups here working in that harder old-school style than in New York right now.
"There just aren't enough great dancers in LA. Some of them, man, the moves just hurt my eyes!"