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Many influences help create a big sound

Delores Reger finishes her 40-year career at Green Valley Health and Herbs this month. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]

It’s a long way from Sao Paulo to Winnipeg, but music has no boundaries. For a young Larry McQuarrie just starting out with the guitar, the playing of Brazil’s Laurindo Almeida stuck, as did the nickname Laurindo.

More than four decades after picking up the instrument at the age of 10, the now-Stratford-based McQuarrie is releasing his first album. He’s marking that occasion with a series of concerts, Laurindo and Friends, including one tomorrow (Sunday) in Waterloo and next weekend in St. Jacobs.

The album, “Andalucía,” from the region in Spain, features 10 original tracks drawing on his longtime love for jazz and Latin music. The concerts will include those songs plus a range of sounds, including nuvo-flamenco, Latin, Celtic, pop, gypsy and smooth jazz.

WORLD OF SOUND Larry McQuarrie's Laurindo and Friends performs a concert Sunday in Waterloo and again May 29 in St. Jacobs. Performances will include tracks from the newly-released album “Andalucía.”

On stage, he’ll be joined by Chris Stahlke (violin, keyboards, bass, vocals), Ken Hadley (saxophone, flute, keyboards, guitar) and Tim Adair (drums, percussion).

“These guys are great musicians, multi-instrumentalists who really know how to put on a show,” said McQuarrie, noting audiences will be treated to a range of sounds. “I want to surprise people with what we can do.”

His own tastes are as eclectic as the mix on tap for the upcoming shows at Waterloo’s Button Factory and the Schoolhouse Theatre in St. Jacobs.

“My dad listened to jazz around the house, and I loved the sound,” he explained of where he got started.

Guitar lessons started at the age of 10, with the young McQuarrie shifting to classical guitar at 12. His musical education included a stint with the legendary Lenny Breau, who was known for blending many styles of music, including jazz, country, classical and flamenco guitar.

Some of that obviously rubbed off on his student. As did the music of Laurindo Almeida, another musical pioneer noted for his classical Spanish guitar playing who scored several Grammy Awards for his work in the 1950s and ‘60s.

More contemporarily, McQuarrie likens his sound to that of Jesse Cook.

“I like to say that if you like Jesse Cook, you’ll love Laurindo,” he laughed.

Given the variety of influences, you can expect a mix in the audiences for a Laurindo and Friends concert, but perhaps weighted towards Baby Boomers. Both upcoming shows are set for Sunday evenings with an early start: people can wind down listening to some good music and still get home at a reasonable time.

Having just finished up the “Andalucía” project, McQuarrie is eager to get in front of an audience. And to see the fruits of his long labour on the recording.

“I’ve played on many other people’s albums – it’s time for one of my own,” he said, noting he’s spent the last few years dabbling at it before finally going ahead and getting it done. “It’s been percolating long enough. It’s time.”

Laurindo and Friends are in concert May 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Button Factory, 25 Regina St. S., Tickets are $18, available at Orange Monkey Music in Waterloo, by e-mail (laurindo53@live.ca) or at the door. On May 29, they’ll be at the Schoolhouse Theatre, 11 Albert St., St. Jacobs, again at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $18, available at The Stone Crock in St. Jacobs, by email or at the door.

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