As usual, I was at the Cardinal Bar Sunday night to catch the Tony Castañeda Latin Jazz Sextet. But where were you, my still-hip fellow first-wave boomers? The Cardinal may be best-known as a disco dance club, but on Sundays it draws a small, mellow, devoted crowd of jazz club regulars. The scene is comfortably intimate, but on a night like this the Cardinal should be packed with like-minded folks. If you’re looking for a little mambo jazz and a dance or two you’re missing out on a very fine thing.
I thought about this when I wrote my previous post – the one on Gaelic Storm. That band started out playing Sunday night pub gigs, too. They hit the jackpot with James Cameron’s epic ship flick Titanic, and now they’re a huge box-office deal. The TCLJS has yet to find its Titanic, but take it from this old jazz writer – it’s as good as any big-name Latin jazz band out there. If you listen closely to WORT’s Saturday afternoon Latin music show “La Junta” when Cardinal owner Ricardo Gonzalez is spinning discs you’ll hear cuts from Castañeda’s two albums, Mambo o Muerte and Viva el Cardinal, flowing right into the mix with tunes by Cal Tjader, Mongo Santamaria and Tito Puente.
Yes, I know Monday morning’s just a shot away, but Castañeda’s gig is early, with two live sets, at 8:30 and 10. DJ Ken Horn plays Cuban son and salsa in between (and afterwards). And it’s worth the effort – I swear, the three hours I spend at the Cardinal on Sunday nights are what keeps me young. I’m always home before midnight, anyway, which is this old boomer’s bedtime.
Readers, this is one Sunday night ship that shouldn’t sink. Please get out and support this Madison institution. If you go, please drop a comment on my blog and let me know how you liked it – and if you don’t go, let me know why not!