On his previous visit to Los Angeles for last year's ill-fated Latin Grammy ceremony, Cuban singer-songwriter Issac Delgado was among the top stars stranded here by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Under infinitely less stressful circumstances, the Havana-based singer made a commanding and joyful return appearance Friday night before a capacity crowd at the Conga Room.
Backed by his superb 14-piece orchestra, Delgado demonstrated why he has remained one of the most appealing figures of this dazzling generation of hyper-trained Cuban musicians. Exuding a low-key charm, the former lead singer of NG La Banda (Cuba's pioneering timba band) offered several welcome surprises. His two sets were more modulated and textured than we've come to expect from modern Cuban bands, which often overheat. Delgado slowed down occasionally, savoring the delicious melody of "Amor Sin Etica" (Love Without Ethics), adorned by a delicate solo guitar.