Yasser Tejeda and his band Palotre's latest album is 11 tracks of guitar heroics over nimble, propulsive Afro-Dominican beats. While those elements were definitely present live—in droves—the group kicked the night off with a Vudù incantation, followed by dancers, more chanted interludes and surprise guest stars. On a night celebrating the release of Kijombo, their new album, they opted to celebrate the culture.
Excessive guitar soloing can get derided as “self-indulgent,” but you'd be hard-pressed to find a more generous band than Tejeda's, playing at Chelsea Music Hall Tuesday night. Maybe the key is that the guitar lines on the new record aren't "solos" so much as they are intricately interwoven with the rhythm section—probably more accurate to describe them as instrumental tracks and leave it at that. Or maybe it's that the band was the center of something bigger than themselves. As Tejeda explained from the stage, the album's name refers to Afro-Dominican gatherings called quijombo, celebrations of music, culture and resistance.
The band played their unique jazz-, r&b- and rock-inflected takes on the DR's popular genres, merengue and a classic bachata cover, yielded center stage to a dance troupe, and welcomed Krency “El Prodigio” Garcia, the famed Dominican accordionist to the stage.
It's no small feat putting out a record, but it's even more impressive to make something that celebrates more than your own music. Yasser Tejeda and Palotre were there to celebrate Afro-Dominica: The crowd was happy to reciprocate.