Connections: Tango Time

The meeting room of the East Hampton Presbyterian Church, which is regularly filled by Sunday-school classes and women’s-club suppers, is not exactly where you would expect to go to a Latin jazz concert by a world-class performer. On Saturday night, however, the music, and some tango dancing, took over.

Jane Hastay, the minister of music at the church, who also happens to be a jazz pianist, drew an enthusiastic crowd for a concert that starred Gil Gutierrez, a virtuoso on nylon string guitar with an international following. He was accompanied by Ms. Hastay, at the piano, Peter Martin Weiss (her husband), on bass, and Bob Stern, on amplified violin in keeping with the guitar.

Mr. Gutierrez is from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, a place imbued by music. (The Choral Society of the Hamptons’ recent Rossini concert was conducted by John Daly Goodwin, who lived there for many years.)

Long recognized as a star, Mr. Gutierrez has been a soloist with the Minnesota and Florida symphony orchestras and performed at Carnegie Hall and in documentary films. His virtuosity encompasses various styles, including opera, jazz, flamenco, and tango. East Hampton was lucky to have him here.

On Saturday night, his sound brought shouts of joy from the audience when the tunes were spirited and deep sighing when they were quiet or melancholy.

Over the years, I’ve been quite tuned in to live and recorded jazz, by professionals as well as friends. But while all jazz encompasses improvised sections and Latin and African influences, what I have listened to over the years has, for the most part, been what could be described as a commonplace North American variety. Many who attended on Saturday were, unlike me, quite familiar with Latin jazz, specifically, and many concertgoers were brought out by OLA, the nonprofit organization that has been an advocate for the eastern Long Island Latino community since 2002 and to which the concert was dedicated. The concert was a shared activity that engendered a sense of community, and the blend of music and people was heartening.

The Presbyterian Church is only a long stone’s throw from my house, and given my caution about driving at night, I walked over, hoping for a good concert. I had not imagined that I would be delighted by an outstanding concert that was not just a new experience, but a wonderful use of a community church hall that brought disparate members of the community together.

Thank you, Jane and OLA!

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