…basement Jazz stories in development
The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts [kicked] off its 11/12 Latin Roots series with the dual presentation of Omar Sosa Afreecanos Quartet and Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band with special guest Dafnis Prieto, October 28, 2011 at 7:30 PM. With both critically-acclaimed acts showcasing their unique fusion of complex Latin rhythms and impeccable jazz improvisations, lines between Latin and jazz fall to the wayside in an all-out celebration of dynamic, exhilarating rhythms in this one-night-only performance.
Five-time Grammy-nominated Cuban composer and pianist Omar Sosa is one of the most versatile jazz artists on the scene today. Hailed by All About Jazz as a true “fusion artist in the best sense of the word, ” who “mixes his Cuban roots with tastes of bebop, free jazz, even hip hop and electronica, into a strikingly fresh and spicy modern stew that’s much more than the sum of its ingredients, ” Omar Sosa unifies genres with his dynamic playing and improvisational mastery. Sosa’s fifth solo recording, Calma, released in March 2011 and steeped in unorthodox harmonic sensibilities, received a Latin Grammy nomination for Best Instrumental Album. He is joined on the Annenberg stage by his Afreecanos ensemble, featuring drum-and-bass pioneer Marque Gilmore, Mozambican electric bassist Childo Tomas and noted Cuban saxophonist Leandro Saint-Hill, all traveling from Europe for this performance. The ensemble fuses the folkloric with the contemporary, the ancestral with the urban—all with a Latin jazz heart. Copies of Omar Sosa’s Calma are available to press upon request.
Continuing the Latin fusion theme of the evening’s double bill, Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band—the band the New York Times calls “the best Latin Jazz group working” and one of the most influential modern Afro-Caribbean jazz groups in the world, will take the stage alongside special guest Dafnis Prieto. The sophistication of the Fort Apache Band’s carefully crafted sound is highlighted by the group’s ability to bring a jazz flexibility to the Latin rhythm section with ease and expert flare. As noted in the New York Times, “a Fort Apache tune may start out swinging with the feel of the drummer…then move into a Cuban guaganco, then take on a shuffle, then return to swing.” The band features Jerry Gonzalez on trumpet, flugelhorn and congas, backed by premiere bassist Andy Gonzalez, leading jazz pianist Larry Willis and noted alto and tenor saxophonist Joe Ford with special guest and 2011 MacArthur Fellow, drummer Dafnis Prieto…
Paquito D’Rivera and his Panamericana Orchestra, Panamericana Suite (MCG Jazz, 2010)
Recorded live at Pittsburgh’s Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, Paquito D’Rivera’s Panamericana Suite spirits away the listener on a jazz infused world music fantasy extravaganza. Sampling and savoring the lush traditions of Central and South America, this bold recording zings and sizzles with Mr. D’Rivera’s impassioned musical take on the Latin sound. Taking its name from a commissioned piece for Jazz at Lincoln Center that premiered in 2000, Panamericana Suite thrums with the richness of Caribbean rhythms, dashes of aching tango, Latin brass and sultry Afro-Cuban percussion all wrapped around Mr. D’Rivera’s finely honed jazz sensibilities[...]
[The] Barcelona audience had the chance to witness Chucho Valdés, playing with his Afro-Cuban Messengers in one of the most spectacular auditoriums in the world: the Palau de la Música Catalana… The room was full, and anticipation in the air, for this Afro-Cuban project, was palpable. Cuba has, of course, long ties with Spain, and so it’s only natural that people from Barcelona feel this music very deeply and resonate with it.
Valdés came to town to present Chucho’s Steps (Harmonia Mundi/Four Quarters, 2010). He mirrored multiculturalism, making his music all the richer. His blend of bebop and hard bop with Cuban rhythms, producing a wide spectrum of sounds and colors, created a cheerful and eclectic show; clearly, the audience left some of its blues at the Palau that night.
Of all the songs Valdés and his band presented, “Danzón,” “Zawinul’s Mambo” (dedicated to Joe Zawinul), “New Orleans” (dedicated to the Marsalis family), “Chucho’s Steps” and “Begin to be Good” were the most thrilling. The pianist is obviously a well-established and world class musician. He knows the history of jazz piano, and he frequently quoted some of his masters, either via classic jazz standards or through bits of well-known solos, making even the new material popular—or, at least, giving it a connection with jazz audiences…
For American and Cuban Jazz, More Riffing, Fewer Rifts by BEN RATLIFF, LARRY ROHTER and BEN SISARIO
Published: November 2, 2010
The loosening of Washington’s restrictions on travel to and from Cuba has recently resulted in much more cultural exchange than in the past, and the jazz world has benefited in particular.
Last [October], the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra visited Havana, and Chucho Valdés, the renowned Cuban pianist, performed a series of concerts in New York…
[In the] New York Times’s weekly music podcast (of November 03, 2010), three writers for The Times, the music critic Ben Ratliff; a cultural reporter and former correspondent in the Caribbean, Larry Rohter; and a music reporter, Ben Sisario, talk about the American-Cuban jazz connection and its history over the past half-century and more.
Festival dates were changed from February 2010 to December 16-19, 2010, according to the Cuban Institute of Music.
Jazz master Arturo O’Farrill makes spiritual link with father’s homeland by MAITE JUNCO, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER | Originally Published: Wednesday, January 12th 2011
[...]The 50-year-old O’Farrill, who also was once part of Jazz at Lincoln Center, took a…personal, journey last month. He went with his family and the Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, the 18-piece band founded by his famous father, legendary Cuban composer and arranger Chico O’Farrill.[...]
[...]O’Farrill held workshops in Cuba for music students at the Amadeo Roldán Conservatory and performed accompanied by young local musicians and master pianist Chucho Valdés.[...]
O’Farrill also traveled to Varadero, Cuba, to perform with an orchestra that plays almost exclusively his father’s work. But the group, unable to get their hands on music sheets, had been transcribing it from albums.
“We made a gift to them of six original pieces of Chico with scores and parts,” he says. ”It was a very emotional moment for them and for us.”[...]
The week-long visit, sponsored by O’Farrill’s three-year-old nonprofit, the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance (www.afrolatinjazz.org), is part of a growing cultural exchange between the U.S. and [Cuba...]
O’Farrill wrapped up his stay with a concert that closed the 26th edition of the Jazz Plaza Festival at the Mella Theater. His composition “Fathers and Sons From Havana to New York and Back” had its premiere there.
“The piece was performed with our guest Chucho Valdés, my sons, Chico’s grandchildren performing on trumpet and drum, and six young Cuban musicians,” he said.
“They stood on stage, playing together, and beaming and hugging and high-fiving and laughing, and for a minute there was no embargo. For a minute there was no wall. There was only love and music and family.”
O’Farrill has a new CD out called “40 Acres And A Burro” under the title Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (Zoho Music 2011). All About Jazz writer, Dan Bilawsky, published a review of it in AAJ on February 5, 2011. Here is it…
Excerpt: [...]the orchestra plays its first formal jazz-festival concert at the Teatro Nacional. The crowd is a little sparse, owing to late schedule changes. Yet the show is stirring, working through several of Chico’s classics, and one of Arturo’s compositions. Though distinct, Arturo’s “40 Acres and a Burro” extends an often overlooked aspect of Chico’s musical legacy—the humor embedded in his music. But this trip is first and foremost about Chico’s works. During “Manteca Suite,” Chico’s expansion of a tune made famous by Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo, Arturo puts his whole body into his father’s arrangement, his arms stretched wide in the final brass exhalation.
The performance grows more masterful and emotional with a closing rendition of “Afro Cuban Jazz Suite.” It’s an astounding piece, introduced with stark, slightly dissonant horn hits, followed by a tender melody set atop an ambling bolero rhythm. As it walks through various styles, it toys with the clave beneath a mambo, winks at Stravinsky’s harmonies, and touches on 12-tone serialization. It manages to sound both personal and grandiose without ever losing its flow[...]
[...]the 1,500-seat Mella Theater is packed, up through the balcony formed from an organic sweep of rough plaster. “Fathers and Sons,” the last piece played on this, the final night of the trip, is introduced by an angular, vaguely classical-sounding melody, played rubato, which then gently gives way to a clave-based rhythm, and finally forms the basis for individual improvisations. Each young trumpeter takes a different approach: Rodríguez, pensive and fragile; Delgado, fiery and bright; Adam O’Farrill, confident and in search of harmonic adventure.
These same Cuban musicians, including Valdés, had performed in October with Marsalis to the crowd’s delight. Then, Rodríguez expressed wit and concision on a bluesy bebop number. One of the saxophonists, Emir Santa Cruz, had traded phrases elegantly, as if in conversation, with Lincoln Center tenor-sax player Walter Blanding on a Count Basie tune. But here, Arturo was inviting Valdés, an elder master, and these young players, including his sons, into the final form of his newest piece—spanning borders and generations to create something new, in real time, just for this Havana audience[...]
Arturo: “…I want jazz to stop dying this awful death, this strangulation. I think the future of this music has to do with the acceptance of a larger picture of it, which has always been the deeper truth anyway.”
by Angus MacSwan
Problems with passports scuppered producer Nick Gold’s first attempt to bring together Cuban and Malian musicians to record in Havana 14 years ago.
But the album that did emerge from sessions by the Cubans who had been left bereft became one of the music phenomenons of recent times — the Buena Vista Social Club.
It sold millions, led to concerts worldwide, resurrected the careers of several veteran Cuban musicians, and fuelled global interest in the exotic Caribbean island in the grip of Fidel Castro’s revolution.
Now Gold has brought the story full circle and gathered together the original invitees to make an album mixing the tight rhythms of Cuba with the snaky guitars and desert drums of Mali.
Eliades Ochoa, the cowboy-hatted Cuban singer and guitar player, and his Grupo Patria blend seamlessly with Malian lutist Bassekou Kouyate and guitarist Djelimady Tounkara, among others, on the album “AfroCubism” which [was] released on October 11.
They [hit] the road together, including a showcase at London’s Barbican on November 21 as part of the London Jazz Festival.[...]
28 San Francisco Jazz Festival this year separated the featured acts under several themes. For instance, Danilo Perez played solo in Pianism, October 10; Chucho Valdes, Arturo Sandoval and Omara Portuando showcased MusicaCubana on October 11, 29 and 30 respectively; October 23, Roots and Grooves starred Taj Mahal; and the Kenny Barron Trio with David Sanchez came under the Jazz Giants marquee, October 24. And that was not all[...]
One of Cuba’s most famed stars, Latin music hero Isaac Delgado pioneered the island nation’s tough funky style on salsa known as timba. A dazzling live performer who was mentored by the legendary Cuban jazz pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Delgado is a magnetic stage presence who deftly navigates the complex, interlocking music of his fiery 13-piece band.
Restlessly inventive, Delgado keeps rewriting the sometimes restrictive rules of Caribbean dance music, incorporating adventurous time signatures and tempo changes, virtuosic jazz passages elements of modern urban rhythms and avant-garde electronics. Despite having defected to the U.S. in 2006, Delgado remains beloved in his native land and revered by Latin music fans the world over.
While Delgado usually packs the dance floor with his kinetic Latin grooves, this three-night run at Yoshi’s in Oakland will feature sit-down shows spotlighting songs from his new recently released effort on Sony Masterworks. The album ‘L-O-V-E‘ finds Delgado recreating 12 sultry and sexy Spanish recordings originally sung by crooner Nat King Cole. The iconic American vocalist recorded three albums during the late ’50s and early ’60s in Cuba, Brazil and Mexico that focused on material such standards as “Perfidia,” “Quizas, Quizas, Quizas,” “Piel Canela,” and “Yo Vendo Unos Ojos Negros.” Delgado grew up listening to Cole’s Spanish recordings and was influenced by the combination of Cuban bolero music with the sounds of classic American romantic ballads. Nat King Cole’s brother — noted pianist and vocalist Freddy Cole — contributed to the recording of ‘L-O-V-E,’ marking the first time he has worked on a tribute album for Nat. Cole will share the stage with Delgado at these special concerts.
Issac Delgado with Freddy Cole
Friday-Sunday, Sept. 10-12, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. (2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday)
After decades on the road, Chucho Valdés, hailed as one of the best jazz pianists in the world [performed] in Macao in a one night concert at CCM’s Grand Auditorium on Wednesday, 1st September.
A one in a million opportunity for the local public to become acquainted with an exquisite musician [who unveiled] a mix of traditional Cuban sounds with folk and African rhythms and a strong touch of classical jazz[..]
Chucho is traveling with the Afro-Cuban messengers[...]a new band, including horns and batás [traditional drums of African origin] which changed completely the sonority of the last group. It makes it more contemporary[...]. The batá drum player and singer make the group sound richer and is a better way to show our roots”, said Chucho, according to whom the resulting sound reveals the musical evolution of the band in the last 10 years and also reflects “The newest thing happening in Afro-Cuban Jazz”.
Being aware of the unique historical background of Macao as a territory marked by numerous cultural influences, Chucho pointed out that his music is influenced by external historical aspects, stressing that his work does not go beyond artistic purposes. “I never mixed politics with my music, I just do Afro-Cuban music. I write tunes by inspiration and seek the development of pure art, mixing all the African and Spanish roots and taking some elements from jazz and from compatible universal music”.[...]
An Intimate Evening with Juan-Carlos Formell at the Van Dyke (Sunday, May 02) | by Abel Folgar
It’s not easy to live up to some types of hype and it can be especially crippling artistically when you come from great struggle getting better and better all the time. So before we get into some biographical stuff about Juan-Carlos Formell, let’s see the comparisons first so that we can have even footing here. Stylistically compared to a pair of late-great masters of the jazz guitar, Joe Pass and the Brazilian virtuoso Baden Powell and drawing poetic notes to modern troubadours Federico García Lorca and the oft-maligned (politically) Nicolás Guillén, Formell is at the vanguard of the contemporary musical explorers of Afro-Cuban and Caribbean sound…
Juan Carlos Formell. 9 p.m. Sunday, May 2. Upstairs at the Van Dyke Cafe, 846 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. 305-534-3600; thevandykecafe.com/upstairs
Jazz veteran brings good vibe | RON BANKS, The West Australian
Leading American vibraphonist Dave Samuels (made) his first visit to Perth in 17 years when he (played) at the Perth Jazz Society Monday (May 3)…
Samuels (was) joined by local musicians (Perth jazzmen Simon Jeans (guitar), Paul Pooley (bass) and Chris Carr (drums)) to play music from the Caribbean Jazz Project CDs and some jazz standards.
Tri-C JazzFest Kicks Off Spring with a Legendary Lineup | Author: PR Newswire
The 31st Annual Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland kicked off spring with a stellar line-up of artists and packed with the variety that JazzFest fans have come to love. From a red carpet birthday salute to the music of Henry Mancini, the jazz of iconic pianist Ramsey Lewis, to fan favorite The Roots and an evening with the Smooth Jazz All-Stars, this year’s fest offers something for everyone.
For the young, and young at heart, Joe Hunter reprised his “Jazz for Kids” series at the Children’s Museum of Cleveland, while Omar Sosa offered a joyful mix of jazz and Afro-Caribbean rhythms at the Museum of Contemporary Art (April 25)…
Cape May Jazz Festival’s 33rd Edition, April 16-18 | by Sandy Ingham
If there’s a formula for putting on a successful jazz festival, both artistically and box- office-wise, Cape May’s got it.
Need some straight-ahead hard bop: Check: How about Tim Warfield and his quintet’s tribute to organist Shirley Scott? Some fusion-ey jazz/pop for those less drawn to more challenging stuff? Check: Spyro Gyra.
…For me, Chuchito Valdes’ two fiery sets were the most memorable moments.
Valdes is a force of nature, the Niagara Falls of jazz piano, pouring it on and on and in crashing cascades of chords; he takes your breath away. The Cuban-born master draws on both the Caribbean and American songbook for material for his super-intense improvisations.
When all ten fingers aren’t enough to release the sounds boiling up inside of him, Valdes employs flatted palms, fists, forearm bashes, standing-up full-body sweeps of the keyboard from top to bottom and back, bringing the audience to its feet cheering.
“Billie’s Bounce” best illustrated his versatility, evolving from straight-ahead swing into a Latin phase, some boogie-woogie passages and finally into some Ray Charles-like gospel choruses.
“Bye Bye Blackbird” began deceptively as a ballad before Valdes turned up the heat, while “Besame Mucho” began and ended with a quote from classical music, smoldering for ten minutes in between.
Valdes does have a tender side, as on “Over the Rainbow,” delicate throughout with upper-register tinkling representing the birds on the wing in this wistful standard[...]
Arturo Sandoval at the Dakota, March 22-23 | written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor
Protégé of the great Dizzy Gillespie, co-founder of the great Cuban ensemble Irakere and four-time Grammy winner, pianist/trumpeter/bandleader Arturo Sandoval (returned) to the Dakota Jazz Club March 22-23.
Rutgers musicians salute Cuban jazz pioneer | By CARLTON WILKINSON • CORRESPONDENT, app.com
Cuban jazz pioneer Paquito D’Rivera (was) the focus of two events involving Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts.
First, the school’s Rutgers Symphony Orchestra and the Rutgers Jazz Ensemble (performed) in New York City with the legendary clarinetist in a program titled “Paquito D’Rivera: Reflections of a Man Facing South.” Professors Kynan Johns and Conrad Herwig (conducted) the ensembles…
The program (was) part of the “Rutgers in New York” performance series and (featured) D’Rivera’s personal blend of classical and jazz in interpretations of Spanish, South American, Afro-Cuban and Afro-Caribbean music…
The concert (began) at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 12, at New York City’s Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway at 95th St., New York City…
CD/LP Review | Published: December 20, 2009 | by Woodrow Wilkins