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Playing Around: Mezcla 

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All good things come from a well-crafted jam, do they not? Trees: a natural earth-sun jam. Chocolate milk: a spoon-and-glass Hershey-jam. Babies: a pre-parental romantijam. And Mezcla: a funked-out jam born of guitar, keyboard, percussion. Unlike trees and milk, however, Denver-based quartet Mezcla has chosen to extend its jams, adding a distinctive blend of Latin-flavored jazz and blues to the original funk from which the band sprung.

It was a dark and stormy night (they swear) when Ricardo Rodriguez and Phil Foiles met up with Jeff Martin and Charlie Barlow at an informal gathering of musical types not too long ago. Like the night Graham Nash sat down to sing a few bars with David Crosby and Steven Stills, or the night Sid met Nancy, the energy cocktail was strong and the vibes meshed. The guys were simply meant to be together.

Unlike the mellow background jazz Rodriguez and Foiles had been practicing, Martin and Barlow brought out a rambunctious, energetic funk tinged with the confident, sometimes space-age jazz experimentation of masters like John Scofield and John Coltrane. The comfort and ease with which the musicians played that night, adding Latin influence here, Zydeco there, created a kind of professional bond that has become the core of Mezcla.

Since that night, Rodriguez and Foiles have forgotten their dream of supper-club stardom, opting instead for making the rounds of Denver and Boulder and working on Mezcla's self-titled debut CD. Surely the crowds eat them up -- funk like that is a tasty enticement onto the dance floor.

The group's performance up the pass at Tres Hombres on Friday night is their first in the mountain town, and they are well worth checking out, especially if you are one who loves to shake what yo' mama gave you. Tickets are $3; call 687-0625 for details.

  • All good things come from a well-crafted jam, do they not?

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