Monday, December 12, 2011

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Month (December 2011) - Eddie Gomez

Legendary bassist EDDIE GOMEZ has been on the cutting edge of music for over four decades. The Latin GRAMMY® award-winner’s impressive resumé includes performances with jazz giants such as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Bill Evans, Gerry Mulligan and Benny Goodman. Eddie’s unique sound and style can be heard on hundreds of recordings spanning the worlds of jazz, classical, Latin jazz, rhythm & blues, popular and contemporary music.

Born in 1944 in Santurce, Puerto Rico, Eddie moved to New York City with his family at an early age. His love of music led him to the double bass as a precocious 11-year old student in the public school system. Two years later he was accepted to the High School of Music and Art and soon began private studies with the great double bass teacher Fred Zimmerman. During these years, he performed with many professional dance bands and was a member of the Newport Youth Band led by Marshall Brown. By 18, he had performed with such jazz luminaries as Buck Clayton, Marian McPartland and Paul Bley.

Eddie continued his studies at the Juilliard School of Music, where his contemporaries included Chick Corea, Hubert Laws, James Levine, Itzak Perlman, Paula Robinson and Gary Karr. By the end of his third year of school, he dreamed of a career as a performing jazz musician. Later that summer he joined with Gary McFarland and soon after the Gerry Mulligan Quintet.

In the spring of 1966, both Mulligan’s group (with Eddie on bass) and the Bill Evans Trio performed for a week at the famed Village Vanguard. That week at the Vanguard changed Eddie’s life forever. When Bill Evans heard the young phenom, he practically hired him on the spot. Bill called a few weeks later and Eddie’s dream had been realized. At age 21, he was the bassist with the Bill Evans Trio – and rose quickly to fame. TIME magazine declared in its review of the trio’s first recording, “Eddie Gomez has the world on his strings.”

Joining the Bill Evans Trio was indeed a turning point in Eddie’s career. He had arrived in a big way and the jazz community took notice. For 11 years, Eddie played an integral role in the Bill Evans Trio’s sound and evolution. This period
of vast artistic growth with Bill Evans included performances throughout the United States, Europe, South America and Asia, as well as dozens of recordings – two of which won GRAMMY® awards. During this time, Eddie also realized another dream performing on many occasions with the great Miles Davis, in the Davis quintet that also featured Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Tony Williams.

In 1977, Eddie left the Evans Trio to explore new musical territory. For the
next decade, he performed in many diverse musical contexts, working with
Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, George Benson, McCoy Tyner, Hank Jones, Nancy Wilson, Tania Maria, Ray Barreto, the All Star groups “Steps Ahead”
and “New Directions” and many others, as well as on GRAMMY®-winning recordings with Chick Corea.

EDDIE GOMEZ, Steve Gadd, and Richard Stoltzman are Special Guest Artists with Mika Yoshida (2008)

In the classical music world, Eddie has been a guest artist with The Kronos Quartet, Tashi Ensemble, Japanese marimbist Mika Yoshida and clarinetist Richard Stoltzman. His recordings with Stoltzman have included “Begin Sweet World” and most recently “The Goldberg Variations” and other pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach. At Carnegie Recital Hall, Eddie premiered a musical piece written specifically for him by William Thomas McKinley.

In popular music, Eddie has performed and recorded with artists such as Bobby Darin, Tim Hardin, Carly Simon, Art Garfunkel, Mark Knoffler, Michael Franks, Judy Collins and Jennifer Holliday. He has also been a member of “The Gadd Gang,” Steve Gadd’s
All Star R&B/jazz band.

Today, Eddie tours and records with his own group, which he formed in 1992 with pianist Stefan Karlson and legendary drummer Jimmy Cobb. The group’s recordings include “Live in Japan,” “Dedication” and “Uptown Music.” He is composing for
his own projects as well as for film and television most notably for the prize-winning William Steig animation, “The Amazing Bone.” Eddie Gomez continues to enjoy an active, international career as a performer, recording artist, composer, educator and featured guest artist on many high profile projects.

Eddie's recent recording “Duets,” co-led with Carlos Franzetti on piano, won Best Instrumental Album at the 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY® Awards. His recordings as a leader include “Next Future,” “Outlaws,” “Live in Moscow,” “Street Smart,” “Power Play,” “Mezgo,” “Discovery,” “Gomez,” “Down Stretch,” “What’s New at F, “Palermo” and “Trio.” The recordings feature guest artists including Michael Brecker,Richard Tee, Randy Brecker, Al Foster, Steve Gadd, Chick Corea, Jeremy Steig, Jack McDuff and John Abercrombie. His recordings co-led with pianist Mark Kramer include “Entropy,” “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Art of the Heart.” In 2006, his DVD “An Evening with Eddie Gomez” was released – with Eddie and Mark Kramer performing and lecturing on the intricacies and dynamics of improvisation.

A sought-after educator, Eddie is Artistic Director at the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico where he has been professor and artist-in-residence since 2005. He has been artist-in-residence and associate professor of jazz double bass at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and recently was resident artist at Stanford University, North Texas State University, Georgia State University, Jacksonville University,
and the prestigious Berklee College of Music. He gives master classes at many of the major universities and conservatories throughout the United States, Europe, Japan and South America.

Eddie Gomez continues to enjoy an active, international career as a performer, recording artist, composer, educator and featured guest artist on many high profile projects.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Month (November) - Miguel Zenon

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Month (November) - Miguel Zenon

"This young musician and composer is at once reestablishing the artistic, cultural, and social tradition of jazz while creating an entirely new jazz language for the 21st century.”

-- MacArthur Foundation,2008.

Multiple Grammy Nominee and Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow Miguel Zenón represents a select group of musicians who have masterfully balanced and blended the often-contradictory poles of innovation and tradition. Widely considered as one of the most groundbreaking and influential saxophonists of his generation, he has also developed a unique voice as a composer and as a conceptualist, concentrating his efforts on perfecting a fine mix between Latin American Folkloric Music and Jazz.

His latest recording, Alma Adentro (Marsalis Music, 2011), is a tribute to The Puerto Rican Songbook. On it he arranges and explores the music of five legendary Puerto Rican composers: Bobby Capó, Tite Curet Alonso, Pedro Flores, Rafael Hernández, and Sylvia Rexach (whom he considers “the George Gershwins, Cole Porters and Jerome Kerns of Puerto Rican song”). The recording features his longtime working quartet of pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer Henry Cole, plus a ten piece woodwind ensemble orchestrated and conducted by close friend and collaborator Guillermo Klein. This groundbreaking project both honors the music of these masters while at the same time exposing their music to new audiences.

Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Zenón studied classical saxophone at the Escuela Libre de Música in Puerto Rico before receiving a bachelor’s degree in Jazz Studies from Berklee College of Music, and a master’s degree in Jazz Performance at Manhattan School of Music. Zenón’s more formal studies, however, are supplemented and enhanced by his vast and diverse experience as a sideman and collaborator. Throughout his career he has divided his time equally between working with older jazz masters and working with the music’s younger innovators --irrespective of styles and genres. The list of musicians Zenón has toured and/or recorded with includes: Charlie Haden, David Sánchez, The Village Vanguard Orchestra, Guillermo Klein y los Guachos, The Mingus Big Band, Bobby Hutcherson and Steve Coleman. He has also participated in recent projects with Adam Cruz, Antonio Sánchez, Jason Linder, Miles Okazaki, Kenny Werner, David Gilmore and Aaron Goldberg.

He is a founding member of the groundbreaking SFJAZZ Collective, a group whose past and current members include Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Lovano, Joshua Redman, Brian Blade, Nicholas Payton, Dave Douglas, and Eric Harland. In 2012, Zenón’s association with SFJAZZ will further expand to include his new role as resident artistic director along with Bill Frisell, Jason Moran, Regina Carter and John Santos.

Zenón’s six recordings as a leader (including the above mentioned Alma Adentro) represent not only his growth as a musician, but also his ability to constantly evolve and reinvent himself as a conceptualist and producer.

His debut CD, Looking Forward (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2002), represents a snapshot of the very eclectic musical interests of the then 24 year old musician, and was selected by the New York Times as the number one “alternative” jazz recording of 2002.

His second recording as a leader, Ceremonial (Marsalis Music, 2004), was described by All About Jazz as a “ head on crash of Latin, Jazz and Classical traditions--modern Jazz at it’s very best, ” and garnered unanimous critical praise and recognition both within and outside the jazz world.

Jíbaro (Marsalis Music, 2005), his third recording, was further proof that all the critical praise he had been receiving was well deserved. The recording is an exploration of a style of popular Puerto Rican folk music known as La Música Jíbara. The Chicago Tribune summed it up best when they wrote: “The instrumental prowess of Zenon's playing, the vigor of his compositions and the sensitivity of his band to Puerto Rican song forms point to new possibilities in jazz.” Like his previous recordings, Jíbaro was uniformly well received and appeared on many top ten lists including The New York Times, Latin Beat, El Nuevo Día, and the Chicago Tribune.

Decidedly more personal and introspective, Awake (Marsalis Music, 2008) incorporates a string quartet and additional horns to Zenón's core group and brings to the forefront his formidable skills as a writer and arranger. As was admirably put in Audiophile Audition: “ This is an album far beyond the usual sax & string outing, revealing a unique statement that communicates passion, intellect and spirit to the listener." Awake also caught the attention of the international press, garnering it 5 star reviews and top honors in publications like Jazzwise (UK), Jazz Man (France) and Jazz Magazine (France).

Zenón returned to his Puerto Rican roots for inspiration in his next outing, Esta Plena (Marsalis Music, 2009), which draws from the traditional Plena music style of his home country and was supported by a fellowship from the prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. On it Zenón augmented his quartet to include three percussionists/vocalists and took on the additional roles of both lyricist and vocalist. Jazz Times wrote that Esta Plena is “…music with integrity, energy, poise and a fresh vision of how the Afro-Caribbean jazz aesthetic can evolve without losing its deep roots." In addition to being hailed by critics (New York Times, Village Voice, El Nuevo Día , Downbeat, The Chicago Tribune ) as one of the best recordings of 2009, the recording earned Zenón two Grammy nominations (one for Best Improvised solo and one for Best Latin Jazz Recording of the year) as well as a Latin Grammy nomination for Best Latin Jazz Recording of the year.

As a composer he has been commissioned by SFJAZZ, The New York State Council for the Arts, Chamber Music America, The John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, Jazz Reach, Montclair University, and many of his peers.

He has been featured in articles on publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, Jazz Times, Jazziz, Boston Globe, Billboard, Newsday, Details, as well as gracing the cover of Downbeat Magazine and the Swiss jazz magazine, Jazz N More. He has also toped the Rising Star Alto Sax category of the Downbeat Critic's Poll on four different occasions.

Zenon’s biography would not be complete without discussing his role as an educator. In 2003, he was chosen by the Kennedy Center to teach and perform in West Africa as part of their Jazz Ambassador program. Since then, he has given hundreds of lectures and master classes and has taught all over the world at institutions which include: The Banff Centre, Berklee College of Music, Siena Jazz, Conservatorium Van Amsterdam, Conservatoire de Paris, University of Manitoba, Manhattan School of Music, UMass-Amherst and the Brubeck Institute. He is also a permanent faculty member at New England Conservatory of Music. But perhaps what best reflects his commitment to education and cements his growing reputation as a "cultural ambassador", is a program that he founded in 2011, called Caravana Cultural.

The main purpose of Caravana Cultural is to present free Jazz concerts in rural areas of Puerto Rico. The program makes a "cultural investment" in the Island by giving these communities a chance to listen to jazz of the highest caliber (Zenón invites some of the best musicians in the New York jazz scene to perform as guests), while at the same time getting young Puerto Rican musicians actively involved in the concert activities. Starting in February 2011 and continuing through 2013, Zenón will present a concert every four months. Each concert focuses on the music of a specific jazz legend (Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, among others) and is preceded by a pre-concert presentation which touches on the basic elements of jazz and improvisation. Over the last six years Zenón has also personally organized "Jazz Jam Sessions" in the area of San Juan, as a way of creating a platform for younger jazz musicians to grow and interact with one another.

In 2008 he was selected as one of 25 distinguished individuals to receive the prestigious and coveted MacArthur Fellowship, more commonly known as the "Genius Grant”.

Zenón lives in New York City with his wife Elga.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (july 31 - august 6) - Carolina Ferrer

Em seu novo disco, "Samba pelo avesso", Caro Ferrer homenageia o samba,
desdobrando-o em todas as suas variações. São onze novas canções – todas autorais – que navegam do samba-blues ao samba funk, passando pelo côco e o samba de roda ou
cruzando o afoxé com o cha cha cha. Assinando a direção musical com ela, Jorginho Amorim, parceiro de estrada.

O disco é um segundo mergulho nessa praia por onde Caro passeia, escapando das
facilidades da bossa-nova sussurrada e do samba cliquante. O primeiro foi em 2009, com "Jasmim no ar", que despertou a atenção dos grandes nomes da comunidade musical
franco-brasileira para seu timbre, a um so tempo suave e grave, e o balanço do seu fraseado.

As letras abrem o pano para o um universo muito feminino – jasmim, mar, maternidade,
temperos, perfumes de gavetas, bordados, velas, véus, missangas e espelhos. Um "neosurrealismo" de rimas fortes, dito com convicção. A poesia de Caro começa então a letrar melodias de Marcio Faraco, Jorginho Amorim, Adriano Tenorio, Aline de Lima e outros.

Em "Samba pelo avesso" ela nos apresenta sua visão musical sem fronteiras numa seleta
escolha de estilos, certeira na mistura, na dosagem e na unidade. Suas letras, também sem fronteiras, espelham aversão à categorização e ao rotulo e o resultado é um groove percussivo, inventivo e invertido, cheio de surpresas. E sem maionese.
Caro embarca o publico com sua presença intensa e sua voz "blues" e vem levantando as
salas por onde passa - Comedy Club, Blue Note, L'Entrepot, etc. Mas ha quem prefira ouvi-la de olhos fechados, como o parceiro Marcio Faraco..

Manager : Barbara Waechter
tél. : +33 (0)6 62 43 94 83
@ :

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (july 17 - 23) - Chucho Valdes

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (july 17 - 23) - Chucho Valdes

Cuban pianist, bandleader, composer and arranger Chucho Valdes is a highly accomplished and influential figure in the world of Latin and Afro-Cuban jazz. Born in Quivican in 1941, Valdes is the son of the similarly influential Cuban bandleader Bebo Valdes from whom Chucho first received piano lessons. Having exhibited musical talent from a young age, Valdes eventually enrolled in the Municipal Music Conservatory of Havana, graduating at age 14. Inspired by such jazz pianists as Art Tatum and Thelonious Monk, Valdes quickly formed his first jazz trio and began a fruitful period that found him landing several high-profile performance jobs in hotels around Havana including performing with the Sabor De Cuba Orchestra which was directed by his father. These performances continued throughout the '60s and allowed Valdes not only to perform with the best musicians in Cuba, but begin to formulate his own unique ideas about mixing jazz, classical and Cuban styles of music. In 1970, Valdes and his combo became the first Cuban jazz group to perform abroad after appearing at the Jazz Jamboree International Jazz Festival in Poland.

In 1973, formed the innovative and highly influential Latin jazz ensemble Irakere. The group featured various members of the Orquesta Nacional de Musica Moderna including such stars of the Cuban music scene as trumpeter Arturo Sandoval and alto saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera. With its unique mix of jazz, rock, funk, classical and traditional Cuban rhythms, Irakere was an explosive and creative ensemble that quickly caught the attention of international audiences. Although there have been many compilations of Irakere, it was the band's Grammy winning 1979 self-titled concert album, recorded at the Newport Jazz Festival a year before, that really sparked international interest in the group. Although the band's line-up has changed over the years -- D'Rivera defected to the United States in 1980 and Sandoval (who did not defect until 1990) formed his own group in 1981 -- Irakere continues to perform and record with Valdes and new members.

Although Valdes never left Cuba, the four-time Grammy winning and three-time Latin Grammy winning virtuoso has kept a high-profile touring schedule and in 2006 was named the Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Since the '80s, Valdes has released a steady flow of albums including 1986's Lucumi (Messidor), 1998's Bele Bele en la Habana (Blue Note), 2000's Live at the Village Vanguard (Blue Note), 2002's Fantasia Cubana: Variations on Classical Themes (Blue Note) and 2010's Chucho's Steps.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (july 10 - 16) - Aline de Lima

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (july 10 - 16) - Aline de Lima

Marítima é o terceiro álbum de Aline de Lima. Arrebol (2006) e Açaí (2008) foram produzidos respectivamente por Vinícius Cantuária (radicado nos Estados Unidos) e pelo japonês Jun Miyake (residente em Paris). Estas colaborações enriquecedoras ensinaram à cantora-compositora os fundamentos da produção musical. Em Marítima, Aline de Lima decidiu navegar sozinha. Porque ela tem uma forma benéfica e positiva de teimosia. Por trás de uma graciosidade delicada, existe um temperamento que não se rende, nem à métodos, nem à formatação.

As onze faixas de Marítima nasceram da obstinação de criar um "som". Aline de Lima juntou o evidente legado da música popular brasileira às excentricidades musicais extraídas do folclore multicor do Maranhão, território indígena, africano e europeu. Um todo combinado às influências transnacionais do modernismo digital.

Aline de Lima tem os pés fincados na cidade onde cresceu, em São Luís do Maranhão. Mas sua cabeça sempre esteve em outros lugares: na Suécia, onde ela foi morar no final da adolescência, e depois Paris, onde ela vive há dez anos.

Marítima, composição da cantora que deu título ao CD, toda produzida com violões, viola caipira, marimba, percussões de bumba-meu-boi e tambor de Mina, navega em direção ao Atlântico equatorial, à 2,3 graus de latitude sul. As águas do rio Amazonas acariciam soberbamente as margens do Estado do Maranhão. Ali pode-se praticar a cabotagem, à partir de São Luís, Alcântara, Cururupu, Belém, Macapá, com passagem direta sob a linha do Equador, exatamente sob o sol. Porém, Marítima vê além da linha do horizonte, uma visão que percorre um azul infinito e de repente repousa sobre os picos vulcânicos do Cabo Verde, por exemplo.

Um Mar de Mar, a faixa que encerra o álbum foi composta pelo cabo-verdiano Mário Lúcio, grande navegador da esfera musical lusitana, africana, caribenha e atual Ministro da Cultura do arquipélago de Sahel. O que canta Aline de Lima com delicadeza é um entrelaçamento de trocadilhos da raiz "mar" (maria juana, marimba, maracujá, Maracatu, Marrakech, maripousa, Maranhão...). Com Mário Lúcio, cantor, escritor, pintor, ex-advogado formado em Cuba, Aline compôs Lua de Janeiro.
Do Caribe, a jovem artista toma emprestado a leveza de um reggae-blues que ela chama de Upaon Açu. "Upaon-Açu" é o nome antigo de São Luís do Maranhão dado pelos índios Tupinambás, e quer dizer “Ilha Grande”, referindo-se à ilha em que a cidade foi construída em 1612.
Em 2010, Aline de Lima passou alguns meses no Brasil, esteve gravando no Rio de Janeiro e em São Luís. Nesta viagem, ela conheceu músicos e cantores, alguns como Flávia Bittencourt, com quem ela descobriu afinidades e compôs Flor de Brasília.
Mas onde há fumaça, há fogo: ao viver em Paris, Aline de Lima volta no tempo através da História. São Luís foi fundada por um francês, Daniel de la Touche, senhor da Rivardière, que se aliou aos índios para resistir aos portugueses. Marítima é um álbum que constrói pontes. Upaon-Açu, escrito em Português, também oferece uma estrofe em língua francesa. No álbum, Paris é homenageada em Português, ao ritmo de um samba o qual começa com bordões que lembram o Fado: Paris-Velho Novo Mundo é um retrato íntimo da cidade onde também rola um futebol. O esporte preferido do ídolo Chico Buarque, um aficionado da capital francesa (“Em Charletty, marca um gol Chico Buarque...”) e onde um calor comparado ao do sertão nordestino predomina durante alguns dias de verão de uma cidade "deslumbrante” - incrível e maravilhosa.
O acordeon chegou ao Brasil pelos portugueses, e continua animando o tradicional São João e as demais festas nordestinas. É rústico e florece como um mandacaru no xote Fina Flor, composto por Aline de Lima, que o interpreta com uma belíssima melancolia fadista. É também o instrumento que acompanhou as maravilhas de Edith Piaf. Em Arrebol, Aline de Lima interpretou Septembre (“setembro”) de Barbara, uma bela canção do patrimônio musical francês, aplaudida pela imprensa e pelo público. Em Marítima, ela interpreta uma música criada em 1960 para a cantora Edith Piaf, Cri du Coeur (grito do coração), com melodia de Henri Crolla e letra de Jacques Prévert ("Não é somente minha voz que canta/ É uma outra voz, uma multidão de vozes / Vozes de hoje ou do passado / Vozes engraçadas, ensolaradas / Desesperadas, maravilhadas, vozes desoladas e quebradas / Vozes sorridentes que se extasiam/ Loucas de amor e de alegria..."). Uma jóia rara.
Um outro amante de Paris, Márcio Faraco, foi cúmplice da artista na composição Madrugada, a qual se encontra igualmente em O Tempo, CD lançado pelo cantor-compositor e violonista em março de 2011. Uma explosão de sensibilidade na noite que se esvai, com o tom muito “buarquiano” de uma cândida simplicidade: Robertinho Chinês ao bandolim e voz e violão de Aline. E como nós continuamos a ouvir as primeiras composições de Aline de Lima aleatoriamente em uma ou outra rádio FM, sabemos que as melodias e voz delicada que ela carrega em si seguem firmemente a sua estrada.
Véronique Mortaigne

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (july 3 - 9) Cassandra Wilson

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (july 3 - 9) Cassandra Wilson


Cassandra Wilson is an American jazz musician, vocalist, songwriter, and producer from Jackson, Mississippi. Described by critic Gary Giddins as "a singer blessed with an unmistakable timbre and attack who has expanded the playing field" by incorporating blues, country and folk music into her work.

She began playing piano at six, guitar by the age of twelve and was working as a vocalist by the mid-'70s, singing a wide variety of material. After moving to New York City in the early 80’s, Cassandra met saxophonist Steve Coleman and became one of the founding members of the M-Base Collective.

At the completion of her stint with M-Base, Cassandra sought a more acoustic context for her vocal expression. She signed with Blue Note Records in 1992 and released a landmark album titled “Blue Light ‘Til Dawn” which would pave the way for a new generation of jazz singers seeking an approach and repertoire that challenged the supremacy of the American Standard songbook.

Wilson has continued interpreting in fresh and creative ways vintage blues, country and folk music up until the present day. Her awards include: two Grammys, the Django D’Or, The Edison Music Award, and a marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail. She also performed one of the leading roles in Wynton Marsalis' "Blood on the Fields," the first jazz work to receive a Pulitzer Prize.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (june 19 - 25) - Jerry Gonzalez

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (june 19 - 25) - Jerry Gonzalez

Jerry González was born in 1949 in Manhattan, on 58 street and 3ª Avenue, and moved to the Bronx at the age of 4. He was raised in a strong musical atmosphere, with the strains of Latin, Afro-Cuban and jazz music always in his ear, establishing his musical appreciation and molding his future work as an artist. His father, Jerry González Sr. was a master of ceremonies and lead singer for bands during the Palladium era and sang with musicians like Claudio Ferrer. In junior high school he began playing trumpet and congas and jamming with local bands. After deciding this was his calling, Gonzalez completed his formal studies at New York College of Music and New York University. He started his professional career playing with Lewellyn Mathews in New York State World's Fair in 1963. Then, in 1970, he started playing congas with Dizzy Gillespie. With Gillespie’s support and encouragement, Gonzalez was able to fuse the African based rhythms onto jazz elements without compromising the essence of either. The next year, Gonzalez joined Eddie Palmieri’s band till 1974, before moving on to work with “Conjunto Libre” the band led by great timbales artist Manny Oquendo and Andy González. He and his brother the bass player Andy Gonzalez were the fundators of the Conjunto Anabacoa and later of the charismatic Grupo Folklórico y Experimental Nuevayorkino with whom he made two records: Concepts of Unity (1974) and Lo Dice Todo (1975). The band members were: Jerry and Andy González, Frankie Rodríguez, Milton Cardona, Gene Golden, Carlos Mestre, Nelson González, Manny Oquendo, Oscar Hernandez, José Rodríguez, Gonzalo Fernández, Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros, Willy García, Heny Álvarez, Virgilio Martí, Marcelino Guerra, Rubén Blades, Orlando "Puntilla" Ríos and Julito Collazo.

He played with Tito Puente ensemble (1984 to 1999) McCoy Tyner band (1984 to 1990) and Jaco Pastorius band (1984 to 1987)

Inevitably, Gonzalez talent led him to form his own band. His initial was taken in the late 1970’s with a band he called “Ya Yo Me Cure” and released an album of the same name in 1979. No doubt, his real talent only came to the fore with his second band: “Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band” which included his brother Andy and other members as Kenny Kirkland, Sonny Fortune, Nicky Marrero, Milton Cardona, Papo Vazquez and the late Jorge Dalto. The ensembles first two albums were recorded live at European jazz festivals, “The River is Deep” in 1982 in Berlin and “Obatalá” in 1988 in Zurich. These were followed by their hit album, "Rumba Para Monk,” in 1988, earning them recognition from the French Academie du Jazz with the “Jazz Record of the Year” award. This was the record that caught the ears of the jazz community, and is still considered a stellar project. After that, the 15 members band was compressed into a sextet: Larry Willis (piano), Andy González (bass), Steve Berrios (Drums) and Carter Jefferson (sax) and Joe Ford (sax).

Gonzalez and the band subsequently released "Obatalá" (Enja, 1988), "Earthdance" (Sunnyside,1990) and "Moliendo Café” (Sunnyside, 1991). These albums again demonstrated the band’s ability to play Latin inspired jazz with genuine sensitivity and virtuosity. After "Moliendo Café", Carter Jefferson passed away and was replaced by John Stubblefield. They then released "Crossroads” in 1994 and "Pensativo” in 1995, each of which earned them Grammy nominations. The ensemble was awarded The Beyond Group of the Year by both Down Beat Magazine reader's and critic's polls in 1995 and 1996.

Gonzalez and group continued their creations on the 1996 album "Fire Dance,” recorded live at Blues Alley, and featuring interpretations of Thelonious Monk as "Let’s Call This” and "Ugly Beauty,” as well as original compositions. Their efforts were well compensated by winning a score of awards as; Best Jazz Group in Playboy Magazines Readers Poll for 1997. In 1998 they swept the Latin Jazz category at the New York Jazz Awards winning both the Industry and Journalist Polls. In 1999 the group scored big with the critics and readers polls for Beyond Group of The Year in Down Beat Magazine.

Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band also won rave reviews for their contribution to the video documentary about Latin jazz, Calle 54 directed by the Oscar awarded Fernando Trueba. The 2000 film also included performances by noted Cuban and other Latin artists: Tito Puente, Paquito D’Rivera, Gato Barbieri, Chucho Valdes, Dave Valentin and Israel López "Cachao".

Jerry Gonzalez & the Fort Apache Band offered a tribute to Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers on their 2005 release “Rumba Buhaina”. That was their first record as a quintet, without John Stubblefield, who passed away in 2005. The band is still alive and functioning. In 2008, the Heineken Festival paid tribute to Jerry González and his brother Andy González, the first Puertoricans to be honored by the Heineken Festival.

In 2000 González relocated to Madrid. The trumpeter went to Madrid for just one day during a tour with Calle 54 movie and ended up living there. He immersed himself in the flamenco scene and started to develop a new concept with the genre that would blossom in the future. His hiatus in Madrid resulted in the production of “Los Piratas Del Flamenco” (2004) a band and album that included the flamenco guitarist Niño Josele, the percussionist Israel Suárez "Piraña" and the singer Diego “El Cigala”. A novel approach is evident, as it was done without bass, without drums or piano, a radically new sound, a fusion of jazz and flamenco but with a twist. The album was nominated to the Grammy Awards as best Latin jazz album and won the Critics Award in New York as best Latin-jazz album of the year. He has also played with other flamenco musicians such as Enrique Morente, El Negri, Javier Limón and Paco de Lucía, copla musicians like Martirio and Pilar Boyero and pop musicians living in Spain like the Argentinean Andrés Calamaro. Jerry González latest albums have been "A primera vista" (duet with Federico Lechner, 2002), "Music for Big Band" (Youkali/Universal, 2006) and "Avísale a mi contrario que aquí estoy yo" (Cigala Music/Sunnyside, 2010-2011), recorded with "El comando de la clave", Jerry's quartet in Spain, which includes the Cubans Alain Pérez (bass), Javier Massó "Caramelo" (piano) and Kiki Ferrer (drums). His next projects are an album with the Spanish double-bass player Javier Colina and a tribute album to Los Muñequitos de Matanzas.

During his career Gonzalez has been playing with musicians such as Jaco Pastorius, Tito Puente, McCoy Tyner, Chet Baker, Eddie Palmieri, Israel López "Cachao", Wood Shaw, Dizzy Gillespie, Tony Williams, Larry Young, The Beach Boys, Freddie Hubbard, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Archie Shepp, Paco de Lucía, George Benson, Papo Vázquez, Bobby Paunetto, Chocolate Armenteros, Hilton Ruíz, Chico Freeman, Famoudou Don Moyé, José "Chombo" Silva, Rashied Ali, Paquito D'Rivera and Steve Turre.

Ya Yo Me Cure (American Clave/Sunnyside, 1979)
The River Is Deep (Enja, 1982)
Rumba para Monk (Sunnyside, 1988)
Obatalá (Enja, 1988)
Earthdance (Sunnyside, 1990)
Moliendo Café (Sunnyside, 1991)
Crossroads (Fantasy, 1994)
Pensativo (Fantasy, 1995)
Impressions with Afro Blue Band, (Fantasy, 1995)
Fire Dance (Fantasy,1996)
Jerry Gonzalez & the Fort Apache Band Live (1996)
Calle 54 (Calle54, 2000)
Jerry González & Federico Lechner: A primera vista (2002)
Jerry Gonzalez & Los Piratas del Flamenco (Lola Records/Sunnyside, 2004)
Rumba Buhaina (Sunnyside, 2005)
Music for a Big Band (Youkali/Universal, 2006)
Avísale a mi contrario que aquí estoy yo (Cigala Music/Sunnyside, 2011)

As sideman:
George Benson: The other side of Abbey Road (A&M, 1969)
Bobby Paunetto: Commit to Memory (Pathfinder/Tonga, 1970)
Dizzy Gillespie: Portrait of Jenny (Perception, 1970)
Clifford Thornton: Communications Network (Third World, 1972)
Huston Person: Island Episode (Prestige, 1973)
Eddie Palmieri: Sentido (1973)
Clifford Thornton: Gardens of Harlem (JCOA, 1974)
Eddie Palmieri: Unfinished Masterpiece (Coco/MPL, 1974)
Bobby Paunetto: Paunetto's Point (Pathfinder/Toga, 1974)
Charlie Palmieri: Impulsos (Coco/MPL, 1975)
Grupo Folklórico Experimental Nuevayorkino: Concepts of Unity (Salsoul, 1975)
Bobby Paunetto: Commit to Memory (Pathfinder/Toga, 1976)
Grupo Folklórico Experimental Nuevayorkino: Lo dice todo (Salsoul, 1976)
Paquito D'Rivera: Blowin' (Columbia, 1981)
Totico: Totico y sus rumberos (Montuno, 1981)
Kip Hanrahan: Coup de tête (American Clavé, 1981)
McCoy Tyner: Looking out (Columbia, 1982)
Kip Hanrahan: Desire Develops an Edge (American Clavé, 1981)
Tito Puente: On Broadway (Concord Picante, 1982)
Abbey Lincoln: Talking to the sun (Enja, 1983)
Kirk Lightsey: Isotope (Criss Cross, 1983)
Jaco Pastorius: Jaco Pastorius live in New York Vol. I & III (Big World, 1985)
Carlos "Patato" Valdés: Masterpiece (Messidor, 1984)
Virgilio Martí: Saludos a los rumberos (Caimán,1984)
Jaco Pastorius: Punk Jazz (Big World, 1986)
Franco Ambrosetti: Movies (Enja, 1986)
Soundtrack of the movie Crossover Dreams (Electra/Asylum1986)
Hilton Ruiz: El camino (RCA/BMG/Novus, 1987)
Steve Turré: Viewpoints on Vibrations (Stash, 1987)
Santi Debriano: Obeah (Free Lance, 1987)
Kip Hanrahan: Days and nights of blue luck inverted (American Clavé, 1987)
Steve Turré: Fire and Ice (Stash, 1988)
Larry Willis: Heavy Blue (Steeplechase, 1989)
Kirk Lightsey: Everything is changed (Sunnyside, 1989)
McCoy Tyner: The Turning Point (Birdology, 1991)
Charles Fambrough: The proper angle (CTI, 1991)
Kenny Kirkland: Kenny Kirkland (GRP, 1991)
Don Byron: Music for six musicians (1992)
Dave Valentin: Tropic Heat (GRP, 1993)
Bobby Hutcherson: Acoustic Masters II (Atlancic, 1993)
McCoy Tyner: Journey (Birdology, 1993)
Hilton Ruiz: Heroes (Telarc, 1993)
David Sanchez: Sketches of Dreams (Columbia, 1994)
Sonny Fortune: A Better Understanding (Blue Note, 1994)
Afro Blue band: Impressions (1995)
Chico O'Farrill: Pure Emotion (Milestone, 1995)
Giovanni Hidalgo: Time Shifter (Tropijazz, 1996)
Bobby Matos: Footprints (Cubop, 1996)
Abbey Lincoln: You and I (Jazzfest, 1997)
Deep Rumba: The music of Marlon Simon (K-Jazz, 1998)
Arturo O'Farrill: Blood Lines (Milestone, 1999)
Batacumbele: Hijos de tambó (Batá, 1999)
Rumbajazz: Tribute to Chombo (Sunnyside, 1999)
Abbey Lincoln: Over the years (Verve, 2000)
Diego "El Cigala": Corren tiempos de alegría (2001)
Andrés Calamaro: Tinta Roja (2001)
Martirio: Mucho Corazón (2001)
Enrique Morente: Pequeño Reloj (Virgin/Emi, 2003)
Paco de Lucía: Cositas Buenas (2004)
Diego "El Cigala": Picasso en mis ojos (2005)
Niño Josele: Paz (2006)
Javier Limón: La tierra del Agua (2007)
Javier Limón: Son de Limón (2008)
Andrés Calamaro: Obras Incompletas (2009)
Andrés Calamaro: On the Rock (2010)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (june 5 - 11) - John Benitez

Instrument: Bass

John Benitez - acoustic and electric bass
Grammy award-winning bassist John Benitez, born in Rio Piedras Puerto Rico, started playing gospel music in church at the age of thirteen. Already a gifted musician, John began his formal education at “Escuela Libre de Musica” followed by study at the University of Puerto Rico and later the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music with master bassist Federico Silva.

By age nineteen, John was the first-call bassist in San Juan's thriving Jazz and Latin music scenes. He performed with, among others, such well-known artists as Chick Corea, Lucecita Benitez, Batacumbele, Lalo Rodriguez, Cuco Peña, Roberto Roena, and Justo Betancourt. In his early twenties, he toured with Batacumbele to Columbia, South America where he continued to play and study music. Always in demand, John was asked to play with some of the top names in the country like Joe Madrid and often accompanied international touring artists like trumpeter “Chocolate” Armenteros.

In 1993, John move to New York and attended the City College of New York where he studied with the legendary acoustic bassist, Ron Carter and later with the contra bass guitarist Anthony Jackson. His education, however, was not limited to formal classroom study. John learned on the bandstand performing with some of the finest Jazz and Latin musicians including, Wynton Marsalis, Tito Puente, Michele Camilo, Dave Valentin, Eddie Palmieri, Bobby Watson, David Sanchez, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Roy Hargrove, Antonio Hart, Danilo Perez, Kenny Kirkland, Will Calhoun, Vinny Valentino, Chucho Valdez, Don Pullen, Dave Samuels, and Mongo Santamaria, to name just few.

He recorded with Roy Hargrove's Crisol band (whose recording, “Habana,” was awarded the Grammy for best Latin jazz performance in 1997), David Sanchez (the Grammy nominated, “Obsesion”) Tito Puente, Hilton Ruiz, Antonio Hart, the Tropi-Jazz All Stars, the Mingus Big Band, the Caribbean Jazz Project, and Eddie Palmieri.

John has participated in two instructional videos with master percussionist Giovanni Hildalgo and Cuban drummer Ignacio Berroa. He can also be seen on the national tv and cable shows, Good Morning America, The Today Show and BET On Jazz.

As a sideman and a featured special guest, John has performed in all of the major jazz festivals and venues around the world including Turkey, Jordan (where he played for the royal family), South America, Canada, Norway, Finland, and all over Europe. John was chosen by the United States Information Agency and the Kennedy Center to represent the United States as a Jazz Ambassador on a tour of South America.

John has played and recorded with some of the finiest Jazz, Latin, and R&B musicians and has learned something from each and every one of them. This diversity of influence and experience is reflected in his latest project and first recording as a leader, “Descarga in New York,” released in August 2001 on Khaeon World Music. Together with his Trio (the gifted pianist/composer Luis Perdomo and the powerhouse drummer Dafnis Preito) and special guest percussionist, Richie Flores and the tenor saxophonists Ravi Coltrane, John has created a strong musical statement which highlights his prodigious talents as a bassist--both acoustic and electric-composer, arranger, and and producer.

Benitez was the bassist on Ray Barretto’s last record “Standards Rican-ditioned,” in 2006, which was a set of jazz standards performed by an all Puerto Rican ensemble, which incidentally included the late Hilton Ruiz on piano.

Although Benitez is extremely fluid in the jazz idiom, he excels at interpreting the rhythms and styles of his native Afro-Caribbean region and the entire Pan American music book. As he puts it himself, “For me it's all the same, one great dance music, all the Caribbean, South America and New Orleans are but an extension of African music, music with that special bounce. That's what I like the most.” John Benitez, an excellent example of a true musician, an educator, artist, gentleman and a spiritual human being.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (may 29 - june 4): Poncho Sanchez

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (may 29 - june 4): Poncho Sanchez

If music were about pictures, percussionist Poncho Sanchez's music would best be described as a kaleidoscopic swirl of some of the hottest colors and brightest lights to emerge from either side of the border. At any given show, on any given record, fragments of Latin jazz, swing, bebop, salsa and other infectious grooves collide and churn in a fiery swirl, with results that are no less than dazzling.

All of these sounds and more come together in Psychedelic Blues, Sanchez's twenty-fourth recording on Concord Records. "The last couple records have gone a little heavy on the soul music, which has gone over really well in our live shows, but we wanted to do more of a straightahead Latin jazz record this time - something in the tradition of our earlier Concord records that we made back in the '80s."

With that strategy in mind, Sanchez enlisted guitarist Andrew Synowiec to change up the sound on a few tracks. Synowiec, a regular member of the L.A.-based Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band, landed the gig about five minutes into his audition. "He came through the door with just a guitar and an amplifier," says Sanchez. "No effects pedals or other gadgets. He plugged and started to play, and I said, 'No more auditions. We're using this guy.'"

Along with Synowiec is the same lineup that has backed Sanchez on several records and countless live shows: keyboardist/arranger David Torres; saxophonist Jav�er Vergara; trumpeter/flugelhornist Ron Blake; trombonist/arranger Francisco Torres; bassist/vocalist Tony Banda; timbalero George Ortiz; and percussionist/vocalist Joey De Le�n. Even a couple alumni from earlier configurations of Sanchez's band - baritone saxophonist Scott Martin and percussionist Alfredo Ortiz - step back in to lend a hand on Psychedelic Blues. A few of these seasoned players go back more than 30 years with Sanchez, back to some of his earliest gigs as a local fixture in the Los Angeles club circuit.

Although born in Laredo, Texas, in 1951 to a large Mexican-American family, Sanchez grew up in a suburb of L.A., where he was raised on an unusual cross section of sounds that included straightahead jazz, Latin jazz and American soul. By his teen years, his musical consciousness had been solidified by the likes of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Cal Tjader, Mongo Santamaria, Wilson Pickett and James Brown. Along the way, he taught himself to play guitar, flute, drums and timbales, but eventually settled on the congas.

At 24, after working his way around the local club scene for several years, he landed a permanent spot in Cal Tjader's band in 1975. "I learned a great deal from Cal," says Sanchez, "but it wasn't as though he sat me down and taught me lessons like a schoolteacher. Mostly it was just a matter of being around such a great guy. It was the way he conducted himself, the way he talked to people, the way he presented himself onstage. He was very elegant, very dignified, and when he played, he played beautifully. The touch that he had on the vibes - nobody has that sound. To me, he was - and is, and always will be - the world's greatest vibe player."

Sanchez remained with Tjader until the bandleader's death in 1982. That same year, he signed with Concord for the release of Sonando!, an album that marked the beginning of a prolific musical partnership that has spanned more than 25 years and has yielded two dozen recordings.

Psychedelic Blues, the latest product of that partnership, opens with the simmering "Cantaloupe Island," a Herbie Hancock composition recast in a Latin jazz groove. A number of soloists step forward here, most notably Torres on trombone and Synowiec on guitar - all weaving effortlessly above a firmly anchored rhythm section.

Premier Latin trumpeter Arturo Sandoval - Sanchez's friend since their first gig together at a festival in Sardinia, Italy, some twenty years ago - makes a guest appearance via a rendition of Freddie Hubbard's "Crisis." The track showcases Sandoval's respect and reverence for the American bebop maestro who had passed away just a few months before the Psychedelic Blues sessions.

The title track is a fast-moving mambo, originally written by Sonny Henry and arranged here by Francisco Torres, who attaches a surprise at the end of the track. "Francisco really souped it up," says Sanchez. "The song has some nice horn lines, and some great jazz riffs, and then it ends in a bolero. So the song burns almost all the way through, and then at the end it shifts into a ballad."

The intriguing centerpiece to the album is a Willie Bobo medley featuring "I Don't Know" (a Sonny Henry piece commonly associated with Bobo), the laid back "Fried Neckbones and Some Homefries" and the slightly more urgent "Spanish Grease." All three of these songs merge effortlessly to create a nostalgic nod to the revered Latin and Afro-Cuban jazz percussionist of the '60s and '70.

Further into the set, Sanchez and the band turn "Silver's Serenade" - originally a swing tune by Horace Silver - into a mambo with personality to burn, thanks in large part to solo work by Francisco Torres. When Poncho himself steps forward to deliver some syncopated conga lines, the net result is an infectious groove.

The salsa-flavored closer, "Con Sabor Latino," is an old song by Rene Touzet, a native of Cuba who became a well known Latin bandleader in Los Angeles in the '50s and '60s. In many ways, the song is Sanchez's tribute to some of the musical memories of his childhood. "My older brothers and sisters used to see Touzet play at the Hollywood Paladium," he says. "Back then, Chico Sesma was the only Latin disc jockey on the radio in southern California, and 'Con Sabor Latino' was his theme song."

Whether it's salsa, straightahead jazz, Latin jazz, or even elements of soul and blues, the mesmerizing array of sounds and colors from Poncho Sanchez's youth have telegraphed across the decades and continue to inform his creative sensibilities to this day. "There's room for a lot of different sounds in our music," he says. "I think people have come to know that that's what Poncho Sanchez is all about. We put it all together in a pot, boil it together and come out with a big stew. This isn't some marketing strategy to sell records. These are the sounds I grew up with. So when I play this music, I'm not telling a lie. I'm telling my story. This is the real thing."

This biography is property of Concord Music Group, Inc.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (May 22-28): Magos Herrera

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (May 22-28): Magos Herrera

The Mexican-born Herrera sings in Spanish, English and Portuguese. But really, what she does on Distancia transcends language. Blending elements from various traditions, she's stretching the very notion of jazz singing, pushing past the diva pleasantries into a sound that's bold, thrilling and effortlessly global. Tom Moon for NPR radio 06/09

…“Herrera creates a thoroughly modern expression of jazz performance and Latin culture on Distancia, easily holding the weight of an intelligent and complex sound with her prodigious musicianship.” The Latin Jazz Corner by Chip Boaz herrera/

…“Though jazz long ago embraced Afro-Cuban influences that ought to make Mexico a logical bastion of the music, there are few well-known players from Mexico. But here is a brilliant singer, Magos Herrera, with a US debut on Sunnyside Records, recording with a top-flight band (Aaron Goldberg’s piano, Lionel Louke on guitar, among others) and making Mexican jazz sound as obvious as chocolate ice cream.” Will Layman for popmatters, 06/09

…5.0 out of 5 stars Magos Herrera lovely, intriguing jazz vocal artistry, “Magos Herrera is a fascinating, multi-talented singer and this is one of 2009's best vocal performances. My Highest Recommendation. Five INTERNATIONAL Stars!RBS Prod” May,2009

…”Magos music is limitless and speaks straight to one’s emotional self, her music is really bringing such a fresh and powerful coloration to the palette we call Jazz”.
Dan Purcea .Audience in Montreal Jazz Fest. June 2009


Born in Mexico City, the deep and captivating performer, Magos Herrera is considered one of the most beautiful voices and the most active vocalist of the contemporary Latin American jazz scene.

The grammy nominee for best vocal jazz, Immensely popular throughout Mexico and Latin America, a dazzling accomplished singer-songwriter known for her beguiling rhythmic scatting, inflected with soulful Latin-Andalusian phrasings, Magos Herrera owns a unique signature that elegantly blends her classic jazz styling with Latin-American melodies. Fluent in Spanish, Portuguese and English, her repertoire is filled with the yearning romance, intimacy and enchantment of Mexican and Cuban sones and boleros, and sultry, languid Brazilian beats.

Her career started in Italy in 1988 where she decided to become professionally involved with music, and then graduated from the "Musicians Institute" in Los Angeles, Cal. For over 12 years Magos has performed in International Performing Arts Centers and Festivals such as Montreal International Jazz Festival, Kennedy Center in Washington, Lincoln Center, and Jazz Standard in New York, Millennium Park in Chicago, NYC, Teatro de la Ciudad de Mexico, Lunario del Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City and Sala Galileo Galilei in Madrid, Barcelona international Jazz Festival, among many others.

Magos has been nominated twice for ”Lunas del Auditorio Nacional” (2006-2009) in Mexico as “the best Jazz concert of the year” among Bobby Mcferrin and Bill Frisell. Through her pro-active love for music, she produced and hosted 2 TV shows that promoted music for Mexico’s TV channel 22 (Acustico and Jazz desde el bajo centro), and featured guest stars like, Jerry Gonzalez, Diego el Cigala, Francisco Cespedes, among many others,(TV shows demo available at

She has 6 CD recordings including “ Cajuina”, “Orquideas Susurrantes,” “Pais Maravilla”, “Todo Puede Inspirar”, ”Soliluna” and” Dsitancia” and 2 international compilations for Brazil and Japan and was part of the acclaimed “Mexican Divas” cd series .

Based in New York since fall 2007, Magos Herrera promptly became part of the local scene since her successful concert at New York Winter Jazz Festival in 2008. Has recorded with saxophonist Tim Ries for “The Rolling Stones World Project II” and for Via Project (for contemporary composer Paola Prestini). In spring 2009, acclaimed by the critics, Magos released her sixth CD production ” Distancia”/ Sunnyside, recorded with a top-flight new york band including lionel loueke and Aaron Goldberg, which became the #1 Itunes in Jazz category and was nominated for the Grammys as best vocal jazz album, and was included in the 1000 cds yu have to hera before you die.

A year after this succesfull release Magos presents “Mexico Azul” /Sony music a celebration of one of most prolific times for music in Mexico, “the cinema golden era” and the XEW radio sharing a contemporary vision of pieces like “Noche Criolla” by Agustin Lara , “Angelitos Negros”, once sang by the unforgettable "Pedro infante” and “Seguire mi viaje” by Alvaro carrillo, among others, supported by a prime New York band including John Patitucci, Adam Rogers, Luis Perdomo, Alex Kautz and Rogelio bocatto, Rogelio Boccatto and produced by Tim Ries.


Graduated from MIT as professional vocalists in 1993 to further her studies privately with Sheila Jordan in NYC and in Mannes conservatory.
From 1995-1999 trained with opera coach Konstantin Jadan .
In 1999 moved to Boston taking classes of vocal technique and jazz harmony at New England conservatory.
From 2004 to 2006 studied jazz composition with Alejandro Mercado (ex berklee student) in Mexico City.

Since 2000 Magos teaches vocal technique, vocal improvisation, Jazz, brazilian and latin repertoir privately and in music schools such as Fermatta (Berklee associated school in Mexico City), DIM music school in Mexico City.
Has been also invited to teach master classes and clinics at Berklee College in Boston, Central College in Pella, Iowa and Miami Dade College.

Over the past 4 years, through her pro-active love for music, Magos produced and hosted two TV shows that promoted music for Mexico’s TV, channel 22: “Acustico” and “Jazz desde el Bajo Centro” and fea- tured guest stars like Ute Lemper, Jerry González, Diego el Cigala, Francisco Céspedes, among many others.

Magos performed in the play “Modelo para armar” by director; Pablo Mandoki. “Centro Cultural Universitario” Mexico City / 2005

• Mexico Azul / Mexican Bicenenary celebration/ SONY Music/ 2010
• Distancia / Sunnyside records / 2009
• Soliluna / JM / 2006
• Todo puede inspirar / EMI Music/ 2005
• País Maravilla / Suave Records / 2003
• Orquídeas Susurrantes / JM / 2000
• Cajuina / Indie / 1999
• Mexican Divas II / Opción Sónica / 2001
• Mexican Divas III / Opción Sonica / 2002
• Magos Herrera Compilation / Mecca Japon / 2004
• Minha Historia compilation / Casser Brasil / 2007


• Viaje de mar / Iraida Noriega / JM / 2005
• The Rollings Stones Project II / Tim Ries / Sunnyside / 2008
• Traveling songs / VIA Project / 2008
• Far from home/ Beat Kaestli / 2009


Magos Herrera is a recipient of Mexico' National Grant Program for
performing Artist 2010-2013 given by National Fund for Culture and the
Arts (FONCA).
She has been nominated twice 2006-2009 as the “best jazz performance” by the “Lunas del Auditorio Nacional” in Mexico City along with Bill Frisell y Bobby MacFerrin.


• Dizzies Jazz Club CocaCola, NYC

• Kala Auditorium/ Delhi , India

• Kamani Auditorium/ Delhi , India
• Montreal Jazz Festival / 2009
• Barcelona Jazz Festival// Lus de Gas/2009
• Winter Jazz Festival / New York / 2008
• Shanghai International Arts Festival / 2008
• Millenium Park / Chicago / 2007
• Sor Juana Festival / Miller Outdoor TheatreHouston / 2007
• Jazz Standard / New York / 2008-09
• Joes Pub / New York/ 2008-2009
• Lunario del Auditorio Nacional / Mexico City / 2004-05-06-07-08
• Teatro de la Ciudad de México / 2003/05/07/09
• Zocalo, Mexico City, FCH / 2005
• Espacio Santander / Porto Alegre, Brazil / 2007
• SESC / Sao Paulo, Brazil / 2005, 2007
• Museo Tamayo / 2006, 2007
• Museo de la Ciudad de Mexico / 2005/06/07
• Snugs Harbour Jazz Club / New Orleans / 2005
• Sky Building / Osaka Japan / 2004.
• Dazzles Jazz Club / Denver Colorado / 2004
• Sala Galileo Galilei / Madrid, Spain / 2003
• Anson Amphitheatre / LA, Cal / 2003
• Mexican Festival in New Delhi / India / 2003
• Lincoln Center / New York City / 2002
• Mayan Amphitheatre / LA, Cal / 2002
• Queens Festival / New York / 2002
• Makor/NYC/2002
• Ryles Jazz Club / Boston, Mass / 2001, 2002
• FNAC Callao / Madrid, Spain / 2003
• Suristan / Madrid, Spain / 2003
• Berklee College of Music / 2002
• Festival Cervantino / Guanajuato, Mexico / 2001
• Centro Nacional de las Artes / Mexico / 2001-02-04-06-09
• Among many other hundreds of festivals and venues in Mexico and abroad.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (May 8 -14): Gonzalo Rubalcaba

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (May 8 -14): Gonzalo Rubalcaba

May 27, 1963… Gonzalo Julio Gonzalez Fonseca was born in post-revolutionary Havana into a musical family rich in the traditions of the country's artistic past. During his childhood, in addition to the standard fare of elementary schools, Gonzalo absorbed the Cuban musical heritage of his nascent environment through personal contacts within his family, notably his father, pianist Guillermo Rubalcaba and his two brothers (pianist and bassist) as well as from leading musicians who were frequent houseguests: Frank Emilio, Peruchin, Felipe Dulzaides and others. He also assimilated, through scarce and treasured recordings, the tunes and styles of 40's - 70's US jazz masters: Thelonius Monk, Bud Powell, Oscar Peterson among pianists; and instrumentalists Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Art Blakey. Gonzalo loved drumming and early in his career studied both piano and drums. Despite the diversity of his background, Gonzalo’s initial formal musical training was entirely classical. He began his training at Manuel Saumell Conservatory at age 9, where he finally chose the piano as his main instrument. He moved up to middle- school at Amadeo Roldan Conservatory and finally earned his degree in music composition from Havana's Institute of Fine Arts in 1983.

By that time he was already playing in clubs and music halls in Havana. He toured France and Africa with Orquesta Aragon in 1980 and introduced his own Grupo Projecto to the North Sea and Berlin Festivals in 1985. Egrem Studios of Havana was the first to record his music during the early and mid '80's and these discs, Inicio, an album of piano solos and Concierto Negro, are still available. Beginning in 1986 Gonzalo began recording for Messidor of Frankfurt, Germany and put out three highly acclaimed albums for that label with his Cuban Quartet entitled Mi Gran Pasion, Live in Havana, and Giraldilla. On the strength of these works Gonzalo began attracting international attention and in 1986 a chance meeting in Havana with bassist Charlie Haden brought him to the attention of Blue Note Records'

president, Bruce Lundvall, and thus began an association first with Toshiba/EMI of Japan and later with Blue Note in the US which resulted in 14 discs being released. (See the Discography page for a complete listing.) In July 1990, he appeared as a surprise guest in an historic performance, available on the CD Discovery with Charlie Haden and Paul Motian (ex Bill Evans trio members) at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland.

Further works eventually brought Gonzalo both a Latin Grammy for Jazz Album of the Year, Supernova, as well as a Grammy for co-production with Charlie Haden on Nocturne, a Verve release of Cuban and Mexican boleros and ballads. Gonzalo has to his credit 15 Grammy nominations, including five for Jazz Album of the Year, Rapsodia in 1995, Antiguo and Inner Voyage in 1999, Supernova in 2002, Avatar in 2008. Among recent honors, in June 2001 Gonzalo received the SFJAZZ Leaders Circle Laureate Award and in 2002 he performed as Artist-in-Residence at the Montreal Jazz
Festival together with Chucho Valdez.

Gonzalo has performed with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Ignacio Berroa, Chick Corea, Al DiMeola, Herbie Hancock, Charlie Haden, Katia Labeque, Richard Galliano, Francisco Cepsedes, Tony Martinez, Issac Delgado, Juan Luis Guerra, Dave Holland, Chris Potter, Eric Harland, Dennis Chambers, Brian Bromberg, Ron Carter, Yosvany Terry, Matt Brewer, Mike Rodriguez, Marcus Gilmore, Pat Martino, Giovanni Hidalgo, John Patitucci, Jack DeJohnette , Joao Bosco, Eric Harland , Ivan Linz and many others.

Gonzalo continues to tour the world as a solo pianist in jazz and classical settings as well as band leader, employing the worlds top side men in club and concert engagements. His active repertoire has continued to expand beyond straight-ahead, bop, Afro-Cuban and other forms of jazz into the worlds of traditional Cuban and Mexican ballads, boleros and Cuban classical works. He has developed his own very distinctive voice, challenging the traditional musical classifications of the day. His art continues to evolve and draw inspiration

from both his Afro-Cuban heritage and the world around us. Our Maestro will continue shaping and reshaping the themes, forms and rhythms which have provided him with inspiration for his life's work. In whichever idiom he works, his future musical creations will be melodious, rhythmic, exciting and bear in their intriguing intricacies the artist's inherent intention of transforming the daily routines of our lives into something more beautiful and significant. Gonzalo now produces and records for his own record label and production company, 5Passion LLC, founded in 2010. Gonzalo's first offering under his independent label "Fé" is now available. Gonzalo is presently planning to record a fresh trio album to be released sometime in December of 2011.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (may 1 - 7): Sonny Rollins

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (may 1 - 7): Sonny Rollins

Theodore Walter Rollins was born on September 7, 1930 in New York City. He grew up in Harlem not far from the Savoy Ballroom, the Apollo Theatre, and the doorstep of his idol, Coleman Hawkins. After early discovery of Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong, he started out on alto saxophone, inspired by Louis Jordan. At the age of sixteen, he switched to tenor, trying to emulate Hawkins. He also fell under the spell of the musical revolution that surrounded him, Bebop.

He began to follow Charlie Parker, and soon came under the wing of Thelonious Monk, who became his musical mentor and guru. Living in Sugar Hill, his neighborhood musical peers included Jackie McLean, Kenny Drew and Art Taylor, but it was young Sonny who was first out of the pack, working and recording with Babs Gonzales, J.J. Johnson, Bud Powell and Miles Davis before he turned twenty.

"Of course, these people are there to be called on because I think I represent them in a way," Rollins said recently of his peers and mentors. "They're not here now so I feel like I'm sort of representing all of them, all of the guys. Remember, I'm one of the last guys left, as I'm constantly being told, so I feel a holy obligation sometimes to evoke these people."

In the early fifties, he established a reputation first among musicians, then the public, as the most brash and creative young tenor on the scene, through his work with Miles, Monk, and the MJQ.

Miles Davis was an early Sonny Rollins fan and in his autobiography wrote that he "began to hang out with Sonny Rollins and his Sugar Hill Harlem crowd...anyway, Sonny had a big reputation among a lot of the younger musicians in Harlem. People loved Sonny Rollins up in Harlem and everywhere else. He was a legend, almost a god to a lot of the younger musicians. Some thought he was playing the saxophone on the level of Bird. I know one thing--he was close. He was an aggressive, innovative player who always had fresh musical ideas. I loved him back then as a player and he could also write his ass off..."

With Clifford Brown and Max Roach, 1956 Sonny moved to Chicago for a few years to remove himself from the surrounding elements of negativity around the Jazz scene. He reemerged at the end of 1955 as a member of the Clifford Brown-Max Roach Quintet, with an even more authoritative presence. His trademarks became a caustic, often humorous style of melodic invention, a command of everything from the most arcane ballads to calypsos, and an overriding logic in his playing that found him hailed for models of thematic improvisation.

It was during this time that Sonny acquired a nickname,"Newk." As Miles Davis explains in his autobiography: "Sonny had just got back from playing a gig out in Chicago. He knew Bird, and Bird really liked Sonny, or "Newk" as we called him, because he looked like the Brooklyn Dodgers' pitcher Don Newcombe. One day, me and Sonny were in a cab...when the white cabdriver turned around and looked at Sonny and said, `Damn, you're Don Newcombe!'' Man, the guy was totally excited. I was amazed, because I hadn't thought about it before. We just put that cabdriver on something terrible. Sonny started talking about what kind of pitches he was going to throw Stan Musial, the great hitter for the St. Louis Cardinals, that evening..."

In 1956, Sonny began recording the first of a series of landmark recordings issued under his own name: Valse Hot introduced the practice, now common, of playing bop in 3/4 meter; St. Thomas initiated his explorations of calypso patterns; and Blue 7 was hailed by Gunther Schuller as demonstrating a new manner of "thematic improvisation," in which the soloist develops motifs extracted from his theme. Way Out West (1957), Rollins's first album using a trio of saxophone, double bass, and drums, offered a solution to his longstanding difficulties with incompatible pianists, and exemplified his witty ability to improvise on hackneyed material (Wagon Wheels, I'm an Old Cowhand). It Could Happen to You (also 1957) was the first in a long series of unaccompanied solo recordings, and The Freedom Suite (1958) foreshadowed the political stances taken in jazz in the 1960s. During the years 1956 to 1958 Rollins was widely regarded as the most talented and innovative tenor saxophonist in jazz.

Rollins's first examples of the unaccompanied solo playing that would become a specialty also appeared in this period; yet the perpetually dissatisfied saxophonist questioned the acclaim his music was attracting, and between 1959 and late `61 withdrew from public performance.

Sonny remembers that he took his leave of absence from the scene because "I was getting very famous at the time and I felt I needed to brush up on various aspects of my craft. I felt I was getting too much, too soon, so I said, wait a minute, I'm going to do it my way. I wasn't going to let people push me out there, so I could fall down. I wanted to get myself together, on my own. I used to practice on the Bridge, the Williamsburg Bridge because I was living on the Lower East Side at the time."

When he returned to action in early `62, his first recording was appropriately titled The Bridge. By the mid 60's, his live sets became grand, marathon stream-of-consciousness solos where he would call forth melodies from his encyclopedic knowledge of popular songs, including startling segues and sometimes barely visiting one theme before surging into dazzling variations upon the next. Rollins was brilliant, yet restless. The period between 1962 and `66 saw him returning to action and striking productive relationships with Jim Hall, Don Cherry, Paul Bley, and his idol Hawkins, yet he grew dissatisfied with the music business once again and started yet another sabbatical in `66. "I was getting into eastern religions," he remembers. "I've always been my own man. I've always done, tried to do, what I wanted to do for myself. So these are things I wanted to do. I wanted to go on the Bridge. I wanted to get into religion. But also, the Jazz music business is always bad. It's never good. So that led me to stop playing in public for a while, again. During the second sabbatical, I worked in Japan a little bit, and went to India after that and spent a lot of time in a monastery. I resurfaced in the early 70s, and made my first record in `72. I took some time off to get myself together and I think it's a good thing for anybody to do."

Lucille and Sonny In 1972, with the encouragement and support of his wife Lucille, who had become his business manager, Rollins returned to performing and recording, signing with Milestone and releasing Next Album. (Working at first with Orrin Keepnews, Sonny was by the early ’80s producing his own Milestone sessions with Lucille.) His lengthy association with the Berkeley-based label produced two dozen albums in various settings – from his working groups to all-star ensembles (Tommy Flanagan, Jack DeJohnette, Stanley Clarke, Tony Williams); from a solo recital to tour recordings with the Milestone Jazzstars (Ron Carter, McCoy Tyner); in the studio and on the concert stage (Montreux, San Francisco, New York, Boston). Sonny was also the subject of a mid-’80s documentary by Robert Mugge entitled Saxophone Colossus; part of its soundtrack is available as G-Man.

He won his first performance Grammy for This Is What I Do (2000), and his second for 2004’s Without a Song (The 9/11 Concert), in the Best Jazz Instrumental Solo category (for “Why Was I Born”). In addition, Sonny received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in 2004.

In June 2006 Rollins was inducted into the Academy of Achievement – and gave a solo performance – at the International Achievement Summit in Los Angeles. The event was hosted by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg and attended by world leaders as well as distinguished figures in the arts and sciences.

Rollins was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art, First Class, in November 2009. The award is one of Austria’s highest honors, given to leading international figures for distinguished achievements. The only other American artists who have received this recognition are Frank Sinatra and Jessye Norman.

In 2010 on the eve of his 80th birthday, Sonny Rollins is one of 229 leaders in the sciences, social sciences, humanities, arts, business, and public affairs who have been elected members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A center for independent policy research, the Academy is among the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies and celebrates the 230th anniversary of its founding this year.

In August 2010, Rollins was named the Edward MacDowell Medalist, the first jazz composer to be so honored. The Medal has been awarded annually since 1960 to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to his or her field.

Photo: Ruth David Yet another major award was bestowed on Rollins on March 2, 2011, when he received the Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama in a White House ceremony. Rollins accepted the award, the nation’s highest honor for artistic excellence, “on behalf of the gods of our music.”

Since 2006, Rollins has been releasing his music on his own label, Doxy Records (with distribution from the Decca Label Group). The first Doxy album was Sonny, Please, Rollins’s first studio recording since This Is What I Do. That was followed by the acclaimed Road Shows, vol. 1 (2008), the first in a planned series of recordings from Rollins’s audio archives.

Rollins will release Road Shows, vol. 2 in the fall of 2011. In addition to material recorded in Sapporo and Tokyo, Japan during an October 2010 tour, the new CD will contain several tracks from Sonny’s September 2010 80th birthday concert in New York—including the historic and electrifying encounter with Ornette Coleman.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week - Eliane Elias

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week - Eliane Elias

Pianist/singer/songwriter, Eliane Elias is known for her distinctive and immediately recognizable musical style which blends her Brazilian roots, her sensuous, alluring voice with her impressive instrumental jazz, classical and compositional skills. Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Eliane Elias’ musical talents began to show at an early age. She started studying piano at age seven and at age twelve was transcribing solos from the great jazz masters. By the time she was fifteen she was teaching piano and improvisation at one of Brazil’ s most prestigious schools of music. Her performing career began in Brazil at age seventeen, working with Brazilian singer/songwriter Toquinho and the great poet Vinicius de Moraes who was also Antonio Carlos Jobim’s co-writer/lyricist. In 1981 she headed for New York and in 1982 landed a spot in the acclaimed group Steps Ahead.
Her first album release was a collaboration with Randy Brecker entitled Amanda in 1984. Shortly thereafter her solo career began, spanning over twenty albums to date; seventeen on Blue Note Records and three on RCA Victor Group. In her work Elias has documented dozens of her own compositions, her outstanding piano playing and arranging, and beautiful vocal interpretations. All of her recordings have garnered a great deal of praise from the critics and all have topped the Billboard and Jazz Radio charts. In 1988 she was voted Best New Talent by the jazz critics poll ofJAZZIZ magazine.
Together with Herbie Hancock in their duet, she was nominated for a Grammy in the “Best Jazz Solo Performance” category for her 1995 release, Solos and Duets. This recording was hailed by Musician Magazine as “a landmark in piano duo history.” In the 1997 Downbeat Readers Poll, her recording The Three Americas was voted Best Jazz Album. Eliane Elias was named in five other categories: Beyond Musician, Best Composer, Jazz Pianist, Female Vocalist, and Musician of the Year. Considered one of the great interpreters of Jobim’s music, Ms.Elias’ has recorded two albums solely dedicated to the works of the composer, Plays Jobim and Sings Jobim. Her 1998 release Eliane Elias Sings Jobim won “Best Vocal Album” in Japan, it was the number one record in Japan’s charts for over three months and was awarded the Best Brazilian Album in Jazziz Critics Poll of 1999.
Moreover, as a testament to the quality of her writing, the renowned Danish Radio Big Band has performed and recorded Elias’ compositions arranged and conducted by the legendary Bob Brookmeyer. The CD recording of this project is called Impulsive and was released on Stunt Records. It received a Grammy nomination for “Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album” in 2001. In the same year, Calle 54, the highly acclaimed documentary film by Oscar winning Spanish director Fernando Trueba, featuring Ms. Elias’ performance of “Samba Triste ” also received a Grammy nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album.
“On the Classical Side” recorded in 1993, demonstrated Eliane’s classical skills with a program of Bach, Ravel, and Villa Lobos. In 2002 Ms. Elias recorded with opera sensation Denyce Graves. For this recording, The Lost Days, Eliane arranged two Brazilian classical pieces and wrote an original composition especially for Ms. Graves entitled “Haabia Tupi”.
In 2002 Ms. Elias signed to RCA Music Group/Bluebird label and released Kissed by Nature . Her second recording for the label, Dreamer, released in 2004 , is a fresh mix of tunes from the American Songbook, Brazilian Bossa Novas and two new originals, all sung in English and Portuguese, supported by a full orchestra. Dreamer received the “Gold Disc Award “and was voted Best Vocal Album in Japan in 2004. It reached #3 on the Pop Charts in France and #4 on the Billboard charts in the USA.
Ms. Elias’ cd Around The City released on RCA Victor in August 2006, merges bits of Bossa Nova, with shades of pop, jazz ,latin and rock and roll. Around The City features Ms. Elias’ vocals and songwriting in collaborations with producers Andres Levin and Lester Mendez as well as fresh takes on pop classics such as Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va” and Bob Marley’s “Jammin”.
Eliane returned to Blue Note/ EMI in 2007 with her release, Something For You, a tribute to the music of pianist/composer Bill Evans. While touching the essence of the late great Bill Evans, she also brings her own unique gifts to the surface, as a composer, interpreter, outstanding instrumentalist and beguiling vocalist as well. This release received “Best Vocal Album of the Year” and the “Gold Disc Award” in Japan . This is the 3rd consecutive recording that Eliane receives these awards and her 4th all together.
“Something for You” reached #1 on the USA Jazz Radio charts, #8 on Billboard and #2 on the French Jazz Charts.
“I felt a strong connection to Bill’s music throughout every phase of this project,” Elias adds, “as did Marc. But it was especially strong when we were in the studio. When the red light goes on, there are only a few moments to compose yourself and try to enter into that concentrated place where all that remains is what we hear and play together. When I find that place where I can let go and allow the emotion to pass directly from me to what you can hear on this record, that’s making my tribute to Bill in the most sincere and beautiful way that I can.”
The year of 2008 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the birth of the Bossa Nova. In celebration of this event, Eliane recorded a collection of classic bossa novas featuring some of the great landmark songs of Brazil with American classic and pop standards exquisitely performed as only Eliane can with lush romantic vocals and exciting playing accompanied by a stellar rhythm section and strings recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London.
Bossa Nova Stories achieved the following positions: Debuted at #1 on the French Charts (2008),#1 Vocal Album - Swing Journal, Japan (May-June 2008), #1 itunes Top Jazz Album (USA January 2009), #2 itunes Top Latin Album (USA January 2009), debuted at #2 on Billboard Magazine: both Overall and Jazz Charts (January 2009). Bossa Nova Stories was nominated by the Brazilian Grammys (20th Premio da Musica Brasileira, 2009 ) for Best Foreign Album and it was the 2009 Album of the Year on Geezer Music Club. Eliane was the #2 artist in cd sales in France on the Annual Jazz Charts 2008. ”Bossa Nova Stories” is a captivating recording destined to become a bossa nova classic.
With these two recent releases, “Something for You” and “Bossa Nova Stories”, Eliane Elias takes her place in the pantheon of music giants. Demonstrating her unique gifts as a pianist, singer, composer and arranger as well as melding her immense talents in jazz, pop, classical and Brasilian music, she is as Jazziz Magazine has called her, “A Citizen of the World” and “ An Artist Beyond Category”.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (april 18 - 23) - Jane Bunnett

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (april 18 - 23) - Jane Bunnett

Multiple Juno Award winner, Jane Bunnett has turned her bands into showcases for the finest talent from Canada, the U.S.and Cuba. She has been nominated for Grammy Awards, numerous Juno Awards, and most recently, was honoured with an appointment to the Order of Canada. An internationally acclaimed musician, Jane Bunnett is known for her creative integrity, improvisational daring and courageous artistry. Her exploration of Afro-Cuban melodies expresses the universality of music and her ability to embrace and showcase the rhythms and culture of Cuba has been groundbreaking. She has toured the world bringing her own special sound to numerous jazz festivals, displaying her versatility as a flutist, saxophone player and pianist. As an educator, spokesperson and social activist, she remains unafraid to explore uncharted territory in her quest for excellence!

With an honorary doctorate from Queen’s University, Jane Bunnett, the Toronto soprano saxophonist, flutist and bandleader, has built her career at the crossroads between Cuban music and jazz. Twice nominated for Grammy Awards, (Best Latin Jazz Recording 2002 for Alma de Santiago and 2003 for Cuban Odyssey), a fixture of nominations for Canada’s Juno Awards, winner at Canada’s Urban Music Awards for Best Global Recording in 2003 for Cuban Odyssey, and honoured with an appointment to the Order of Canada in 2004; Toronto’s own jazz virtuoso has turned her bands into showcases for the finest musical talent from Canada, the United States and Cuba. Upheld by the likes of Paquito D’Rivera, the great Cuban saxophonist, Jane Bunnett is truly one of Canada’s most valuable artistic resources.

Bunnett’s Cuban connection started in 1982 when a trip to the island with husband Larry Cramer turned her musical world upside down. Everywhere Bunnett and Cramer went they found drummers whose rhythmic complexity liberated the senses; horn players who deployed amazing dexterity in the service of heartstopping lyricism; and pianists who could make any decrepit old upright roar like doom or sing like a heart in love. No fools, they took their horns and played along. “Over the years I developed relationships with some of Cuba’s legendary musicians,” Bunnett recalls. “I’ve had a great opportunity to learn the music in the streets and in the homes of these celebrated talents… and that’s what has fueled my vision.”

Since then Bunnett has moved from strength to strength, touring internationally and recording a string of critically lauded albums. Her house in Toronto’s west end has become a home away from home for a growing number of extraordinary young Cuban musicians who’ve migrated to Canada, many of whom have played in her group, The Spirits of Havana.

Bunnett’s recordings Embracing Voices, Radio Guantanamo, Cuban Odyssey, Alma de Santiago, Ritmo + Soul, Chamalongo, Havana Flute Summit, Jane Bunnett and The Cuban Piano Masters and her acclaimed first recording in Cuba, Spirits of Havana, have explored and combined elements of Cuban roots music with traditional contemporary jazz. Her newest release, Embracing Voices is an exciting departure from Jane’s past efforts, as it is the very first time that the majority of the tracks include vocals and guest vocalists, something that until now, Jane had never done.
Today, Jane Bunnett is a very recognizable name in the World Music and Jazz scenes but she has yet to crossover to mainstream audience, that is, until now!
With Jane’s love of the human voice as an instrument and past collaborations with a variety of vocalists at special events such as the yearly ‘Global Divas’ event, Embracing Voices is her very first recording where all of the tracks include the vocal talents from some of the Jazz & World scene’s best and includes songs in English, Creole and Spanish!
From the jazz world, both established singer songstress Molly Johnson and up-coming jazz diva Kellylee Evans lend their unique vocal styling to the project. From the world scene, Cuban rap star artist Telmary and Grupo Vocal Desandann, an extraordinary Cuban vocal group of Haitian descent are included. This very unique and world renowned ensemble is composed mainly of second and third generation Haitians who were born and raised in Cuba, and bring their incredible history and lineage to this project with vocal performances that demand attention!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (april 3 - 9) - Gretchen Parlato

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (april 3 - 9) - Gretchen Parlato

Gretchen Parlato's 2009 sophomore breakthrough, In a Dream, signaled the arrival of an incredibly inventive modern jazz singer. Her follow-up, The Lost and Found, demonstrates that she has staying power. In a Dream garnered international acclaim with Billboard magazine hailing it as "the most alluring jazz vocal album of 2009"; it also made it onto the top year-end polls for Jazz Times, the Boston Globe, the Village Voice and NPR. The Lost and Found shows immediate weight and intensity, exposing a greater dynamic range. "I feel like I stepped out of my own way and allowed myself to be more revealing and vulnerable through the music," reflects Parlato.

Revealing a seamless, crystalline, and more importantly, personal voice, Parlato says that the overall theme of The Lost and Found is about accepting opposition and embracing the ebbs and flows of life. "One day we may think we've found all the answers, and then something suddenly happens that makes us feel completely lost as though nothing makes sense. This is life. Accepting that we are always in transition without attaching a judgment to the experience is freeing. We are always the lost and found."

An alumni of the Thelonious Monk Institute, Parlato has been turning heads ever since she won the 2004 Thelonious Monk Institute International Vocal Competition with which she displayed a musical individuality loaded with paradoxical powers. Her sultry, intriguing voice and unique, rhythmically agile phrasing came with inescapable centripetal force; the more intimate and understated she sang, the more she drew listeners in. Since then she has toured worldwide to sold out audiences with BBC Radio proclaiming, "Star over London...A star is born!" Her originality captivates musicians as well, prompting invitations to appear on over 50 recordings with the likes of Terence Blanchard, Kenny Barron, Terri Lynn Carrington and Esperanza Spalding. Her breathtaking performances have been captured on television in Europe and Japan and she has become a sought after clinician on vocal styling.

On her third disc, Parlato surrounds herself with a collective of kindred spirits whose tight knit sound has been cultivated through years of performing and recording together. She marshaled GRAMMY nominated pianist Taylor Eigsti, bassist Derrick Hodge and drummer Kendrick Scott as her main band mates with guest appearances from tenor saxophonist Dayna Stephens and bassist, Alan Hampton, who makes a stellar turn featured as a singer and guitarist. Leaders in their own right, this band is among the most heralded of a young, new wave in jazz. "I adore these musicians, not only for what they do, but also for who they are," Parlato says. "We couldn't have had a more supportive, productive energy recording this album." That energy allowed her to reach subliminal musical heights; one that truly engages in delightful, often adventurous musical conversations that tickle the mind, warms the heart and moves the body. "They all contributed so much to the project, in the end it truly felt like a collaborative effort."

"Collaborative effort" is no overstatement. The Lost and Found sees Parlato emerging as a thoughtful composer and lyricist. In fact, she wrote lyrics to several compositions such as Eigsti's haunting "Without a Sound;" trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire's plaintive "Henya," and Stephens' suspenseful title track. In a duet on Hampton's "Still," Gretchen's gentle musing about compassion and forgiveness is made more poignant by his raw vocals. "Alan created such a meditative and deceptively simple groove I wanted to write lyrics that were like a mantra. Something that in its repetition becomes extremely powerful. What better theme than love?" She also composed the music and wrote the lyrics for the evocative bossa-nova tinged, "Winter Wind," the hopeful "How We Love," the sensual "Better Than" and the hypnotic "Circling" that contains verses that typify the entire disc's meditations on light and darkness. "'Circling' plays with the idea of cycles in our lives," explains Parlato. "The ones we have no control over like birth and death as opposed to the cycles we do control, behavior patterns that we get ourselves into." Pianist and GRAMMY nominated composer Robert Glasper came on board as
associate producer. "I love working with Robert, not only in composing, but in reharmonizing and arranging. There is such an immense love and respect between all of the musicians and Robert knows exactly what to do and say to keep everyone inspired."

On The Lost and Found, Parlato further develops her knack for reinventing intriguing R&B songs with her daring yet delectable makeover of "All That I Can Say," a Mary J. Blige tune, penned by Lauryn Hill, and Simply Red's "Holding Back the Years." The latter track, which serves as the album's opener, begins with Scott laying down an infectious R&B groove. Glasper can be heard in the background, vibing to the beat as the music quickly fades into the full ensemble (recorded by Parlato on her iPhone during a rehearsal).

With both tracks, Parlato and her band retain the soulful essence of the songs while steering far enough so that they don't delve into treacle mimicry. "Gretchen doesn't try to be anything she's not. Every remake is an honest one," Glasper says. "She's always herself." The disc also features the jaunty "Me and You," from singer/songwriter Josh Mease and a sterling Glasper/Parlato rearrangement of Bill Evans' "Blue in Green" with lyrics by Meredith D'Ambrosio.

Gretchen Parlato is on an exploration, which leads the conversation among the band and makes for unexpected treasures. Inspired by Wayne Shorter, one of her mentors, she wrote lyrics to his classic '60s jazz composition "Juju." The interaction between Gretchen and saxophonist Stephens showcases her ability to use her voice as an instrument-blending with the horn while adding counterpoints. On "Without A Sound," her haunting vocals seem to add another dimension to the remarkably textured harmony already created by Hodge layering 3 parts using only his electric bass. And on one of the disc's most revealing moments, the singer shows her love for Brazilian music on Paulinho da Viola's "Alo Alo." A solo rendition, Parlato layers all of the percussion
and sings all the vocals.

With The Lost and Found, Parlato has delivered a powerful testament to the beauty of space and simplicity. "I've become more interested in finding not only a higher, but a deeper level and connection in music. And this seems to be done by shedding everything, and getting right to the heart and core."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (march 27 - april 2) - Hiromi

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (march 27 - april 2) - Hiromi

Hiromi Ueharafirst mesmerized the jazz community with her 2003 Telarc debut, Another Mind. The buzz started by her first album spread all the way back to her native Japan, where Another Mind shipped gold (100,000 units) and received the Recording Industry Association of Japan's (RIAJ) Jazz Album of the Year Award. The keyboardist/ composer's second release, Brain, won the Horizon Award at the 2004 Surround Music Awards, Swing Journal's New Star Award, Jazz Life's Gold Album, HMV Japan's Best Japanese Jazz Album, and the Japan Music Pen Club's Japanese Artist Award (the JMPC is a classical/jazz journalists club). Brain was also named Album of the Year in Swing Journal's 2005 Readers Poll. In 2006, Hiromi won Best Jazz Act at the Boston Music Awards and the Guinness Jazz Festival's Rising Star Award. She also claimed Jazzman of the Year, Pianist of the Year and Album of the Year in Swing Journal Japan's Readers Poll for her 2006 release, Spiral. Hiromi continues her winning streak with the 2007 release of Time Control and in 2008, Beyond Standard. Both releases feature Hiromi's super group, Sonic Bloom.

Born in Shizuoka, Japan, in 1979, Hiromi took her first piano lessons at age six. She learned from her earliest teacher to tap into the intuitive as well as the technical aspects of music.

"Her energy was always so high, and she was so emotional," Hiromi says of her first piano teacher. "When she wanted me to play with a certain kind of dynamics, she wouldn't say it with technical terms. If the piece was something passionate, she would say, 'Play red.' Or if it was something mellow, she would say, 'Play blue.' I could really play from my heart that way, and not just from my ears."

Hiromi took that intuitive approach a step further when she enrolled in the Yamaha School of Music less then a year after her first piano lessons. By age 12, she was performing in public, sometimes with very high-profile orchestras. "When I was 14, I went to Czechoslovakia and played with the Czech Philharmonic," she says. "That was a great experience, to play with such a professional orchestra."

Further into her teens, her tastes expanded to include jazz as well as classical music. A chance meeting with Chick Corea when she was 17 led to a performance with the well-known jazz pianist the very next day.

"It was in Tokyo," Hiromi recalls. "He was doing something at Yamaha, and I was visiting Tokyo at the time to take some lessons. I talked to some teachers and said that I really wanted to see him. I sat down with him, and he said 'Play something.' So I played something, and then he said, 'Can you improvise?' I told him I could, and we did some two-piano improvisations. Then he asked me if I was free the next day. I told him I was, and he said, 'Well, I have a concert tomorrow. Why don't you come?' So I went there, and he called my name at the end of the concert, and we did some improvisations together."

After a couple years of writing advertising jingles for Nissan and a few other high-profile Japanese companies, Hiromi came to the United States in 1999 to study at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. For as open as her musical sensibilities had already been when she came to the U.S., the Berklee experience pushed her envelope even further.

"It expanded so much the way I see music," she says. "Some people dig jazz, some people dig classical music, some people dig rock. Everyone is so concerned about who they like. They always say, 'This guy is the best,' 'No, this guy is the best.' But I think everyone is great. I really don't have barriers to any type of music. I could listen to everything from metal to classical music to anything else."

Among her mentors at Berklee was veteran jazz bassist Richard Evans, who teaches arranging and orchestration. Evans co-produced Another Mind, her Telarc debut, with longtime friend and collaborator Ahmad Jamal, who has also taken a personal interest in Hiromi's artistic development. "She is nothing short of amazing," says Jamal. "Her music, together with her overwhelming charm and spirit, causes her to soar to unimaginable musical heights."

At 26, Hiromi stands at the threshold of limitless possibility, constantly drawing inspiration from virtually everyone and everything around her. Her list of influences, like her music itself, is boundless. "I love Bach, I love Oscar Peterson, I love Franz Liszt, I love Ahmad Jamal," she says. "I also love people like Sly and the Family Stone, Dream Theatre and King Crimson. Also, I'm so much inspired by sports players like Carl Lewis and Michael Jordan. Basically, I'm inspired by anyone who has big, big energy. They really come straight to my heart."

But she won't, as a matter of principle, put labels on her music. She'll continue to follow whatever moves her, and leave the definitions to others.

"I don't want to put a name on my music," she says. "Other people can put a name on what I do. It's just the union of what I've been listening to and what I've been learning. It has some elements of classical music, it has some rock, it has some jazz, but I don't want to give it a name."

Telarc Discography:
Another Mind (2003) CD-83558
Brain (2004) CD-83600
Spiral (2005) CD-83631
Time Control (2007) CD-83655
Beyond Standard (2008) CD-83686