As the pleasantly stoned gent sitting next to me this past Thursday pointed out, the laziest decision the Goodfoot could have made on 4/20 was to truck out a Grateful Dead cover band or some other weed-friendly act. Instead, the long-standing venue in Southeast Portland opted to tap into a much different energy by booking a pair of high-powered salsa ensembles to inspire movement rather than zoning out.
Pura Vida Orquesta has become something of a proving ground for Portland’s current influx of jazz talent. Led by saxophonist and vocalist Gabriel Martinez, the group has filled out their horn section with local players like Cyrus Nabipoor, Adriana Wagner and Noah Simpson.
On this occasion, the Orquesta called on a pair of pillars within the community: trumpeter Farnell Newton and trombonist Chris Shuttleworth. The two men acted as the bellows, helping to crank up the heat as they traded solos and encouraged the rest of this large ensemble to amp up the intensity in response.
No additional help on that front was needed for Eléré. Playing their first show outside of their hometown of Seattle, the octet seemed intent on proving their mettle to a new audience and, especially, the many dancers that were in constant motion throughout the evening.
Each song felt like being blissfully at the mercy of the ocean. Just when one wave of hip-swinging percussion and psych guitar subsided, another one, generated by their three-member horn section and group vocals would follow right behind. You know, just like the sensation of being well and truly stoned. Huh, maybe the Goodfoot knew what it was doing booking these bands on the highest of high holidays after all.