Almario says he "went to Lima earlier this year with (bassist) John Patitucci, (percussionist) Alex Acuna and (flutist) Dave Valentin and then to Puerto Rico with Acuna and Ricardo Silvera and (bassist) Abraham Laboriel. Then (Laboriel and I) went to Germany, Norway and Sweden. None of those people would let us off the stage. The thing we do with Latin music from South America and jazz is really popular there.
"Los Angeles is another story. There's so many things happening here that people are distracted. They treat concerts like a picnic here; they use it as background."
But, he adds, that's not the case at the San Juan Capistrano Regional Library, where he and Ariel have played before. "It's the best," Ariel agrees. "People are there for the music."
Playing duets is especially challenging, Ariel says. "I really have to be in shape to play that way. (In a duo) the piano takes the place of the bass and the rest of the rhythm section, but you also have to keep in mind the chords and the harmonies. With a band, it's less exercise."
"We put together all the things that have touched us," Almario says. "And then we make them our own. The sound we get, often it's very technical, but more than that. Our coming together makes for something very soulful and very expressive, something that speaks of our hearts."
\o7 * Justo Almario and Marcos Ariel play tonight at 7 and 9 at the San Juan Capistrano Regional Library, 31495 El Camino Real, San Juan Capistrano. $3. (714) 493-1752.\f7