Fronted by singer José “Pepito” Gómez, Orquesta Akokán perform “La Cosa” from their self-titled 2018 debut album, broadcast on SFJAZZ’s Fridays at Five streaming concert series on April 30, 2021.

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Brainchild of pianist and arranger Michael Eckroth, producer Jacob Plasse and vocalist José “Pepito” Gómez, this loving salute to the Cuban mambo revolution of the 40s and 50s, and in particular the work of legendary vocalist and bandleader Beny Moré, began with a recording project at Havana’s historic Areito Studio in 2016. Named for the Yoruba word meaning “from the heart,” the multi-generational big band assembled for the recording was culled from the ranks of Cuba’s finest, including members of Irakere and Los Van Van, and the alchemy they created inspired Eckroth, Plasse, and Gómez to transition the band from a one-time assemblage for the recording studio to a working band for the concert stage. They made their SFJAZZ debut with this performance, filmed in June 2019.

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SFJAZZ is the largest non-profit jazz organization in the United States, presenting year round concerts, festivals and educational programs at the SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco, CA.