Tonight’s performance of Jaime Lozano and Mauricio Martinez: Hermanos y Familia at 54 Below included special guest artist and Broadway superstar Shereen Pimentel.
Jaime Lozano came to the piano, Mauricio Martínez to the microphone and center stage. Both sported festive, colorful shirts, as one might see on a cruise or tropical vacation. Lozano and Martinez are brothers, which makes tonight’s performance a special family event of sharing and music.
The announcement for silencing phones and not taking photos had been spoken in Spanish. That’s apparently is a first for 54 Below, inspiring a light moment of Martinez leading the audience in practicing rolling their r’s.
Charlie Sheen born Carlos Irwin Estévez
Martinez noted that tonight he shall sing only songs composed by his brother Jaime Lozano. They opened with “You Gotta Change Your Name,” a song about a Mexican performer told by agents to Anglicize his Latin surname. The duo spoke of their early days in America and how this song characterizes the experiences of many.
You may recall the many luminaries who changed their names to obscure the identity of their non-Anglo roots. A few examples include actor Anthony Quinn born Manuel Oaxaca, Raquel Welch born Jo Tejada, Steven Bauer born Esteban Samson, Ben Kingsley born Krishna Bhanji, and Ricky Martin born Enrique Morales. The point is that Lozano and Martinez sing about deeply personal themes. Songs characterize their life experiences, fears, aspirations, and love. This concert is a passionate musical autobiography of their lives that demonstrates great pride in their heritage.
Martinez referenced a song from Under the Same Moon, representing a true story of a mother and son reunited after her earlier departure from Mexico. This segued into Martinez’s singing of “You are the Reason,” a song about love.
Lozano spoke about his studies at NYU and how, when defrauded in 2006, he was forced to return to Mexico. In 2015, he and his bride spent their honeymoon in the U.S. and decided to settle in New York. Martinez introduced Lozano’s Latin musical entitled Children of Salt (2016) book and lyrics by Lauren Epsenhart, from which several songs followed.
Children of Salt
Martinez sang the lead song from Children of Salt. The musical is about memories, home, and gracefully moving into the future. While performing on stage in the 2016 production of the musical, Martinez was asked by a producer to audition for the Broadway show On Your Feet! He did and starred as Emilio Estefan, husband of Gloria Estefan.
Martinez introduced Broadway star Shereen Pimentel and described this as a Telemundo moment (an inside joke). They sang the duet “Morena, Cariño“. This led to “Enough is Enough,” a song with an incredible groove. Martinez and Pimental were fabulous together!
For the album Songs of an Immigrant, Martinez recorded the title song from a closet mini-studio. The lyrics project how immigrants feel when they’re in a new country for the first time, regardless of their origin. It’s entitled “The Generic Immigrant Welcome Song.”
Martinez introduced and sang the next song “Mi Perú” from Songs by an Immigrant.
Shereen Pimental returned to the stage for another beautiful duet with Martinez entitled “Please Don’t let this Dance Be Over.”
Old Friends and Health
Martinez recognized an old friend in the audience who had emigrated from Cuba and joked about his thick Cuban accent. He took a breath, paused, and spoke of his fourth bout with bladder cancer that interrupted his life and redirected him to Mexico for medical treatment. At the time, he was close to losing faith but, while in the depths of despair, received a call from Lozano, who had written a song for him. The song was now to be dedicated to Martinez’s father, who was lost to cancer a decade ago. Martinez sang “Nothing is Broken,” a song of brotherly love, family, encouragement, faith, and strength.
Lozano reminded us that tonight is a unique, special event with Martinez singing his songs. Songwriting is about honesty and expressing moments of our lives. He noted that “we are here tonight for a reason, that is, we are supposed to be here.” He sincerely desires that everyone listening be touched in some way and affected positively.
Lozano wrote the next song for his wife, to be sung for the first time tonight by Martinez. “The Other Side.”
The rhythm section of piano, guitar, electric bass, and percussion was superb. The marvelous instrumental balance, finesse, subtlety, and mastery were notable. The variety of fusion, jazz, and Latin beats was fresh and compelling. Songs were flawlessly supported. These are world-class musicians.
Lozano’s songs are masterfully crafted, relevant, and successfully convey the intended stories, emotions, and passion. Lozano’s piano work is sophisticated, tasteful, and excellent, both as an ensemble player and as accompanist to his brother Martinez and guest artist Pimentel.
The brothers are personable, humorous, affable, passionate, and clearly inspired by the hope in their hearts and the circumstances of their lives. Their songs emanate from personal experiences, the multiple challenges facing immigrants, and the opportunities and achievements they have earned. This, of course, touches most of us as we witnessed and experienced the struggles of our own families who arrived here from around the world.
Martinez achieved his vision of touching people’s hearts. His singing was from the heart and soul and represents the highest standards of artistic integrity. His duets with the fabulous Sheeren Pimental were delightful, and we hope they’ll be recording together.
For Jaime Lozano and Mauricio Martinez: Hermanos y Familia
All music by: Jaime Lozano
Lyrics: Noemi de la Puente, Michael Cooper, Jaime Lozano, Lauren Epsenhart, Nancy Cheser, Marina Pires, Neena Beber, and Georgie Castilla
Music: director and pianist Jaime Lozano
Guitar: Agustin Uriburu
Drums and Percussion: Joel Mateo
Bass: Ruben Rodriguez
Music Arrangements: Jaime Lozano
For 54 Below
Livestream Director: Ally Douglass
Creative & Programming Director: Jennifer Ashley Tepper
Lighting Director: KJ Hardy
Sound Supervisor: Andy Brattain
Executive Producers: Steve Baruch, Richard Frankel, and Tom Viertel
P.R.: Elizabeth Skollar, Skollar PR
254 W 54TH ST. CELLAR, NYC 10019
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