As John Newman and Idyllwild Arts continue to add spice to the Jazz in the Pines menu, one of the most unusual and eclectic of first-time festival acts is Besos de Coco. Arguably the act with the most interesting name (translation from Spanish, “coconut kisses”) Besos also has perhaps the most unusual instrumentation and genre mix.
Three women, with internationally diverse backgrounds, push the boundaries of musical collaboration and genres. Filipina-American Lorraine Castellanos plays classical guitar and sings, riffing on Andres Segovia and Sarah Vaughan; Evona Wascinski, born in Poland, plays double bass and sometimes treats it as a conga drum; and Mexican-American Claudia Gomez Vorce is the group’s percussionist, using her feet to provide the varied musical genre rhythms of flamenco, classical, jazz, Charleston swing, Latin and American pop.
Said Castellanos (who is married to Jazz in the Pines veteran trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos), “What we have is fun. We play a broad mix from tango and romantic boleros to Elvis Presley and Charleston-era swing. Last year, we played for the patrons concert but this is the first time we’re in the actual festival. Marshall [Hawkins] invited us and we’re very happy to be playing in Stephens [Recital Hall].”
Castellanos said the group’s arrangements are collaborative and are key components of Besos’ appeal. “We are always trying new things and innovative approaches.”
Reviewed in the San Diego Reader as, “Thick, buttery sound … astonishing footwork … the purity of a songbird … three strong women, an inspired choice,” Besos de Coco creates a musical travelogue serving up the romance of the Mediterranean, Latin America and American jazz. And just as irresistible as the Caribbean macaroon dessert for which they’re named, Besos de Coco will keep festival audiences wanting more — because of their tasty arrangements and intriguing flavors.
They appear at 3:15 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21.
Jazz in the Pines tickets can now be bought in town at the Idyllwild Arts boutique on North Circle.