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Sampling Latin America's musical menu

Arte 2005, presenting a series of concerts with the flavor of South America and Central America, tonight serves up the sounds of a Venezuelan singer-songwriter.

Published April 10, 2005

TAMPA - The varied musical traditions of Latin America, from the Son Jarocho movement of Mexico to the jazz and bossa nova traditions of Brazil, are on display at Arte 2005, at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

The five-concert series, which opens with tonight's show by Venezuelan singer and songwriter Franco De Vita, handily reflects the festival's focus on "the Americas" - South America and Central America.

De Vita, born in Caracas and raised in Italy and South America, is probably best known internationally for writing Vuelve for Ricky Martin. The romantic ballad was the title track of Martin's 1998 album, the predecessor to the smash English-language disc he released in 1999.

De Vita played in several South American bands before making his solo debut with a self-titled 1984 disc that went platinum. He raided the Latin American pop charts with 1986 single Aqui Estas Otra Vez. The same year, another single, Solo Importas Tu, was heard on the soundtrack of a popular Latin American soap opera.

Another big single, Louis, was included on 1988's Al Norte del Sur album. Stop y Algo Mas, a CD and DVD, was released this year on Sony International. De Vita plays at 7:30 tonight at Morsani Hall.

Also on the music bill for Arte 2005:

* Maria Rita, a Brazilian pop singer who has been compared to Norah Jones, is the daughter of superstar Brazilian vocalist Elis Regina. Rita, who sports a sultry voice and a laid-back, jazz-rooted sound built around piano, acoustic bass and drums, made her debut with an acclaimed 2003 self-titled CD. The album, which sold 100,000 copies during its first week, was released internationally in 2004, and resulted in Best New Artist and Best MPB (Music Popular Brasiliera) honors at the fifth annual Latin Grammy Awards. "What each song shares is a purely acoustic, slightly jazzy musical backing and also a lyrical performance by Rita, who possesses a tender voice not unlike that of her mother as well as an emotive delivery that accentuates her vocals with a rich sense of humanity," according to the All Music Guide. O Som do Jazz, a locally based Brazilian jazz sextet led by trombonist, composer and St. Petersburg College professor David Manson, will play the preshow party. (Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., Ferguson Hall)

* Claudia Caldern, from Colombia, plays folkloric piano music rooted in the traditional music of Venezuela and Colombia. Caldern, who studied in Italy under pianist Gyorgy Sandor and composition professor Diether de La Motte, has toured Latin America, Europe and South Africa. (Wednesday, 8 p.m., Ferguson Hall)

* Son de Madera, a group from Mexico, is a leading player in the Son Jarocho movement, which celebrates the folk music and dance associated with Veracruz, a state on the country's eastern coast. Son de Madera has toured widely throughout Canada and Europe and has participated in joint projects with the Cassidies, from Ireland, and Chicago's Quetzal. (Thursday, 8 p.m., Ferguson Hall)

* Teatro Negro de Barlovento, organized 30 years ago in Venezuela by Victor Palacios, offers a mix of Afro-Venezuelan dance and music (vocals, percussion and other instruments). The group's work reflects the Afro-Latino artistic traditions rooted in the Barlovento region of Venezuela. (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Ferguson Hall)


Tickets for the Arte 2005 concerts are available through the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center's box office: 813 229-7827 or toll-free 1-800-955-1045, or on the Web at

[Last modified April 7, 2005, 09:36:03]

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