Booking a salsa band to put on a show for a hip-hop act might not make a lot of sense to most people, but it makes perfect sense to Josué Cruz, singer with Jacksonville’s LPT salsa orchestra.
“There’s a thread to hip hop and salsa,” Cruz said last month in a phone interview from Puerto Rico looking for locations for LPT’s next big tour. “The children of the old salsa players became hip-hop pioneers.”
Cruz’s music theories will be put to the test Thursday when LPT opens a Jax River Jams show for Quad City DJs, the Jacksonville hip-hop act who made hits like “Space Jam”, “Tootsee Roll” and ” C’mon ‘n Ride “it is known (The Train). “The concerts, which take place on Thursday evening in April on the lawn where The Jacksonville Landing once stood, each include a national headliner and a local opening act.
Cruz and pianist Angel Garcia said once they can put a lot on their feet and dance, it’s an LPT crowd.
“There are no limits to dancing,” said Cruz. “It doesn’t matter which way it comes to you. If it grooves you and moves you, you will move.”
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He said LPT had just finished a new record and fans could expect to hear about it on the Jacksonville show.
“It’s an energetic show, lots of fun and danceability,” he said. “We can groove even six feet apart.”
The 10-piece band formed in Riverside in 2015, although most of the players are not from Jacksonville. “We’re Hispanic, Whites, Blacks. We’re a culturally diverse mix and come from different parts of the country. The band toured the southeast and slowly expanded their reach before the pandemic put everything on hold. They play all the way to Charlotte.” , Miami and New Orleans and hope to go nationwide. “Our entire approach has been to have concentric circles to keep expanding.
There aren’t a lot of high quality salsa bands right now, Cruz said. Bands mix the Afro-Cuban sound with other forms, but not many do pure salsa. “There are some really cool hybrid bands out there, but when it comes to a salsa orchestra that is very precise and purposeful, we kind of take the helm.”
That was what inspired the founding of LPT in the first place, said Cruz, who studied jazz at the University of North Florida. “We started with the idea of wanting to play music that we grew up with in our households,” he said. “We grew up with this music and we saw that there was a small flaw in this area.”
Garcia, who also studied at the UNF, said playing salsa music was a matter of course for him. “I grew up playing the piano as a kid in South Florida,” he said. “It made me play jazz music.”
LPT released a live album in 2018 and released “Sin Parar” in 2020, just as COVID turned everything off. The band returned to NFS Ranch, a recording studio west of St. Augustine, to record the new album, which will be released later that year.