Henry Brun and The Latin Playerz play during a recent ARTPACE Rooftop Jazz Series concert. Photo courtesy of YouTube.
Henry Brun and The Latin Playerz play during a recent Artpace Rooftop Jazz Series concert. Photo courtesy of YouTube.

The power of music lies in its intrinsic nature to move people.  Whether that be the somber, introspective sound of a chamber orchestra bringing you inwards, or the vivifying electricity of a tour de force of percussion letting you out of your cage and onto the dance floor, it seeps into our soul’s recesses and ignites something. And while you can dig on YouTube and Bandcamp and Spotify all day, “there is no substitute for live music,” or so says Henry Brun in the tag line of his email. 

Witnessing Señor Brun’s passion for his craft – embodied from the cadence of his words to the colors of his linen button-down tropical shirts – is an opportunity to understand what his credo on live music really means.  “You play the song 20 times, every time it’s gonna sound different,” Brun said, confessin’ on the nature of the jazz music he represents. “I’m looking forward to the show sounding 10 times as good as the album.”

The show, presented by ARTS San Antonio, is Henry Brun and the Latin Playerz Orchestra’s 25th Anniversary CD Release Party, and the album is “In Ritmo We Trust.” 

Henry Brun and the Latin Playerz Orchestra perform at the Empire Theatre in 2010. Courtesy photo.
Henry Brun and the Latin Playerz Orchestra perform at the Empire Theatre in 2010. Courtesy photo.

Disclaimer monolinguists: ritmo=rhythm, linguistically. But soulfully, it means something totally different, and Brun makes sure to capture the spirit of jazz latino in this release, to be debuted at Alamo Brewery on Sunday, Sept. 27 at 7:30 p.m.

Brun gave me a little taste of what to expect from the album, recorded, mixed, and mastered by Joe Treviño, Brun informed me with a sentimental smile that Treviño recorded the Latin Playerz first album in 1989.  “The way I describe this album is completing a full circle, it captures the band in their environment,” Brun said.  “It’s recorded live, as organic as you could get.  It is what came out, no touch ups, all natural.” 

Henry Brun. Courtesy photo.
Henry Brun. Courtesy photo.

Aside from the cast of dynamic musicians already present within the Playerz ensemble, Brun is calling upon his decades of music-making and relationship-building in the jazz world to give each song the highest-level of authenticity.  “You’ve got Lil’ Joe one of the fathers of Tejano music, Spot Barnett an icon in the blues,” Brun said.  “Judy Deleon on vocals, her voice as funky as it could ever be.” 

Brun admitted that he is not the Latin Playerz, but “the conduit that keeps ‘em all together,” adding that he also “plays percussion…makes some noise on the side.” 

Brun took a few moments to riff on the San Antonio scene, and what makes his music representative of the life and energy here in the Alamo City.  “It’s all about loyalty, following a pattern and developing a sound by which you’re recognized,” Brun said.  “That’s what the Playerz have done and it’s exciting to see what we’ve accomplished so far.”

Brun is not originally from San Antonio, but hails from a city that has a much greater reputation for Latin jazz, and music in general.  “When I left the NY scene to come down here they said, ‘you’re insane, why would you move?’ because they don’t see the development of the musicians, the convergence of influences down here.”

Part of Brun’s recipe for success comes in paying gratitude and respect to those who have believed in his band’s work since the beginning. Brun mentioned that while it’s exciting to say he’s played at SA’s top venues like the Tobin, Empire, Aztec, there’s more to it than that.  “In the process you disconnect yourself from the audience that built your name, the people who came out to see you,” Brun said.  “I couldn’t be happier than having a venue like Alamo Beer Company.”

The brewery turned third space for Millennials, business leaders, and community members alike, is nestled into an environment that is open and inviting, not at all intimidating or pretentious-just the way Brun wants it.  “Some people don’t like to be outside their comfort zone, thought this as the most sensible approach to have the concert at a place that is calm, relaxed, non-threatening,” Brun said.

Anyone who has witnessed the vim and vigor of the Latin Playerz sound knows that it’s a show that is built to last, with whirling and twirling dancers relishing in the goodness of the groove.  “It’s about having fun and throwing a big party,” Brun said.  “Reaching out to the audience who has supported us for the past 25 years, this is for them.”

Tickets for Sunday’s show start at $20 per person and will be available at the door.  For more information visit www.artssa.org or call ARTS SA at (210) 226-2891. 

*Top image: Henry Brun and The Latin Playerz play during a recent Artpace Rooftop Jazz Series concert. Photo courtesy of YouTube. 

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Adam Tutor

Adam Tutor is a Trinity University graduate, a saxophonist who performs with local bands Soulzzafying, Odie & the Digs, and Volcan, and a freelance music contributor to the Rivard Report.