Local musicians exhibit heritage of Cuban tunes

Julie Rene Tran

Nearly all the chairs were empty Sunday night as local Cuban band Ritmo Tr3s played a funky, fast cover of the popular Spanish love song “Quisiera” at Ruta Maya Coffee House.

The 11-man band started out playing at local gigs and small restaurants in 2006 as a four-piece band. Over the past four years, the band has grown from having just bass, congas, timbales and guitar to now including the tumbadora, saxophone, trombone, trumpet and keyboard. Also since then, Ritmo Tr3s has become a rising force in Texas’ Latin music community, performing behind Venezuelan reggaeton duet Chino y Nacho at Thursday’s Premios Texas, a Latin music award ceremony produced by KAKW-TV Univision 62 Austin.

Ritmo Tr3s was created when brothers Josseph and Josshwa Duran moved from Saltillo, Mexico, to Austin for its Latin music scene.

The band faced its share of difficulties upon its arrival to Austin. Members came and went as life brought them families and new job opportunities. Despite this, lead singer and band director Josseph Duran said that the chemistry from the original four-piece band is what has kept the band together.

“There were a lot of people who wanted to try out, and the biggest problem was, besides the chemistry, was the style we were looking for,” Josseph said. “And some of [those musicians] didn’t fit our style.”

The band now consists of 11 members with various backgrounds — including a former farmer in Wyoming, three college students and one drummer who also plays for Jason Mraz.

The musical base of Ritmo Tr3s is Cuban, but many people have been describing it as modern Cuban music, or “timba.”

“But we’re from Mexico and a lot of the other musicians are from different parts, so we have different influences,” Josseph said. “But mainly it’s Cuban-based mixed with Mexican and U.S. [influences].”

Some of Ritmo Tr3s’ songs, such as “Dance My Tumbao,” fuse funk, hip-hop and rhythm and blues beats for a groovy arrangement.

What makes Cuban music different from other Latin music is its specific rhythmic patterns, especially on percussion. The arrangements are more upbeat and flavorful.

“It just makes you want to dance,” Josseph said. “[But} our music, regardless that it is Latin-based, is trying to reach out to everybody, whether they are Latin or not.”

The band has started recording and is looking to release its album at the beginning of next year.

WHAT: Ritmo Tr3s
WHERE: Dallas Nightclub, 7113 Burnet Rd.
WHEN: Thursday at 9 p.m.
ON THE WEB: More upcoming shows at myspace.com/ritmo3