Flamenco pianist Alfonso Aroca will debut in Chicago on March 10, 2017 with his project Orilla del mundo (Shore of the World). The following day, he will play at the Flamenco Festival in New York.
“I really want to perform there because I know the public will appreciate my project. It is a flamenco that fuses with other styles, but always respecting the tradition,” says Aroca, proud to have participated in the SGAE Foundation’s Flamenco Eñe initiative. “Flamenco Eñe has been a great impetus for the careers of artists that move away from traditional flamenco and who belong to disciplines not so well known abroad.”
Recognized as a young genius, Ignacio “Nachito” Herrera stunned Cuban audiences at the age of 12, performing Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 2 with the Havana Symphony Orchestra. Famed Cuban pianist and Buena Vista Social Club member, Ruben Gonzalez invited the 16-year-old Nachito to join him on stage and inspired the teenager to study the traditional rhythms of Cuba. Herrera’s classical grounding, natural abilities, and enthusiasm for his subject paid off. In addition, Herrera has studied with Cuban masters; Chucho Valdes, Ruben Gonzalez & Frank Fernandez.
Following his 1990 Masters Degree in Music from Superior Institute of Art, Havana, Cuba, Nachito Herrera began performing, directing and touring with state-sponsored orchestras and the renowned Tropicana Orchestra. In 1997, he joined Cubanismo, with whom he recorded two albums, eventually becoming the musical director.
Nachito toured Europe, the United States and the Far East with the group and while recording Mardi Gras Mambo in New Orleans, Herrera amazed the Crescent City with his local performances and was named an Honorary Citizen of New Orleans. In 1996, Herrera recorded Ula-Ula, with the renowned Cuban group, Bakuleye, of which he was musical director, producer and composer in addition to winning the Cuban Nobel Prize of the Year for Best Orchestra.
Upon leaving Cubanismo in 2001, Nachito settled in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul) of Minnesota, where he gained a following amongst fans of both jazz and Latin music. Now, Herrera’s own band, Puro Cubano includes saxophonist Rodolfo Gomez, bassist Jorge Bringas, veteran percussionist Shai Hayo and master drummer, Gordy Knudtson. Collectively, their credits include working, touring and recording with; Salsa Blanca and the Latin Sounds Orchestra, Celia Cruz, Albita, the Steve Miller Band, Ben Sidran and the renowned Puerto Rican Folklorico group, Proyecto La Plena.
Nachito Herrera’s affection for all types of music is apparent and he often cites the correlations between African rhythms, Cuban guajiras, American jazz, and classical composers. “I love all kinds of music, especially American music, but I love Cuban music the most….I like to combine the older Cuban styles, especially the rhythmic approaches of montunos and tumbaos, with jazz and classical themes. It’s how I see the evolution of Cuban piano,” says Herrera.
Henry Gray was born on January 19, 1925, in Kenner, Louisiana. He created the outline for post World War II Chicago blues piano. Playing for twelve years with legendary Howlin’ Wolf, Henry Gray has remained prominent for decades as an original blues voice in Chicago and Louisiana.
Henry Gray has performed at virtually every New Orleans Jazz & Heritage festival since its beginning. A Grammy Nominee for “A Tribute to Howlin’ Wolf’,” he also performed at Mick Jagger’s 55th birthday party in Paris in 1998 and is featured in Clint Eastwood and Marin Scorsese blues films. Henry received a prestigious National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship award in 2006.
In 2015, Delta Groove Music released a selection of collaborations between Henry Gray has and harmonica virtuoso Bob Corritore made over a 19-year period. Vocalists featured include Robert Lockwood Jr., John Brim, Nappy Brown, Tail Dragger and Dave Riley. Guest instrumentalists include Bob Margolin, Kid Ramos, Kirk Fletcher, Big Jon Atkinson, Chris James, Patrick Rynn, Bob Stroger, Chico Chism, June Core, Doug James and others.
* Louisiana Swamp Blues, Vol. 2 (Wolf Records, 1990)
* Blues Won’t Let Me Take My Rest (Lucky Cat Records, 1999)
* Don’t Start That Stuff (Last Call Records, 2000)
* Henry Gray Plays Chicago Blues (Hightone Record, 2001)
* Watch Yourself (Lucky Cat Records, 1999)
* Henry Gray and the Cats: Live in Paris CD/DVD (Lucky Cat Records, 2003)
* The Blues of Henry Gray & Cousin Joe (Storyville Records, 2004)
* Times Are Gettin Hard (Lucky Cat Productions, 2009)
* Lucky Man (Blind Pig, 2011)
* Vol. 1: Blues Won’t Let Me Take My Rest (Delta Groove Music, 2015)
“Why does the world need a Piano Day? (…) because it doesn’t hurt to celebrate the piano and everything around it: performers, composers, piano builders, tuners, movers and most important, the listener.” – Nils Frahm.
Piano Day, an annual worldwide event founded by a group of likeminded people, is set to take place on the 88th day of the year, March 29th. The number 88 coincides with the number of keys on the piano. Piano Day will be celebrated in Cracow March, 26-29 featuring 4 concerts. More details soon: facebook.com/pianodaypoland
Kuba Płużek is a pianist and composer born in Cracow. He’s actually one of the best pianists of the young generetion in Poland. Kuba studied at Academy of Music in Katowice. He participated in many of the most important piano competitions in Poland and Europe , for. eg Montreux Piano Competition.
He has toured Lithuania, Ukraine, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria and shared stage with the best Polish jazz musicians, such as saxophonists Janusz Muniak and Zbigniew Namyslowski; trumpeter Jerzy Malek; as well as Nigel Kennedy, Nathan Williams, Wojtek Mazolewski, and Michael Patches Stewart.
Kuba will perform on piano and two electroacoustic instruments:
FenderRhodes – which doesn’t have any electronics. It’s characterized by warm and gentle sound. The instrument was created when these two companies worked together for a short time and produced some of the best keyboards.
Wurlitzer – same as the previous one. It’s made from wood and metal. Instruments of this company were produced between 1954-1984.
Kuba recorded two albums, a debut with his jazz quartet in 2014 and then a solo album on piano “Eleven songs”. Both are available on Spotify.
Restaurant BAL na Zabłociu Vitaliy Ivanov
8:00 p.m., tickets 15 pln
Vitaliy Ivanov is a composer, saxophonist and pianist from Ukraine, developing the ability to play piano since 5 years. He graduated from Tchaikovsky National Music Academy of Ukraine in Kiev.
Vitaliy got two scholarship fom the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage ‘Gaude Polonia’ – directed to young creators of culture.
He participated in many concerts and jazz festivals in Ukraine, Turkey, Russia, Austria, Germany, both as a leader, soloist and session musician. He took part in the recording of many studio albums as a soloist, while being the author of some of the compositions.
He founded several bands throughout his career. Now he mostly plays with different vocalists and poets as duets. Based on a few words about a person from the audience, Vitaliy creates a spontaneous music portrait. As a soloist Vitaliy presents jazz standards, classical pieces, original compositions and improvisations.
Mateusz Jan Mateja was born in 1993. He graduated from Paderewski Primary School of Music, then Władysław Żeleński Music School in Krakow and also Public High School No.1 of B. Nowodworski in Krakow.
Since 2012 he is studying in Cracow University of Technology in Krakow. Throughout 2000 – 2010 he won several prizes in local, national and international competitions. He has performed throughout Poland, Germany, Finland, France and Switzerland. Since 2013 he is the conductor and art director of Cracow Street Choir.
Full playlist at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLr7_3mm0iCMcZS4ERp16Mejf6uDlGhQNB
on piano: Bob Chilcott – A Little Jazz Mas
Concert at Auditorium Maximum of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow
Krystian Figiel & Mateusz Mateja : Hungarian Rhapsody ( Popper )
Mateusz will play:
Weronika Mietelska was born in 1988. She gradutated from Nicolaus Copernicus Bilingual School in Warsaw and later the Universtity of Warsaw. She’s currently completing studies at Jagiellonian University. Her story with music began from classical piano and choir singing with ‘Ars Cantata’ which won several national and international prizes. Yet, she quickly moved to opera singing and chamber chant studies at the Józef Elsner Music School in Warsaw.
While on a scholarship at the Università per Stranieri in Reggio Calabria she was nominated by Maestro Nicola Sgrò and had an honor to take classes from him. Later, she studied opera singing at the Musical Institute of Achille Peri in Reggio Emilia and also at the Università degli Studii di Modena e Reggio Emilia where she investigated the intercultural translation of literature into opera performance. She also attended lectures of Rajna Kabaivanska and Mirella Freni.
Finally, inspired by several jazz courses as well as swing dancing, she moved to jazz and bossa nova finding in Krakow her new musical ambience among the Brazilian musicians and ‘Kontakt, Przestrzeń Ruchu i Tańca.’ She has performed throughout Norway, Italy, France, Spain and Poland. As a dedicated slow traveller she also does not avoid street performance, ethnic & meditation music and local festivals.
Dybiński plays piano, guitar and sax. He attended the music center, but mostly learned alone. He began playing piano at the age of 8. Now Nikodem mostly plays and creates electronic music without using computer. Besides studying mechatronics at the AGH University of Science and Technology in Cracow, he is a member of representative Orchestra and a band called Doppelganger. During Piano Day Nikodem will connect piano and synthesizer.
Music fans should settle in and enjoy the sumptuous ride that is Transparent Water. Co-creator Omar Sosa, the Cuban-born composer, bandleader and pianist, has such recordings as Eggun – The Afri-Lectric Experience, Jog, Ile and Calma under his belt, while Seckou Keita, the Senegalese kora master, has released albums like 22 Strings/Cordes, Afro-Mandinka Soul with his own Seckou Keita Quartet and Clychau Dibon. Joining forces under the Ota Records label, Transparent Water, set for release on February 24th, pairs Mr. Sosa’s Afro-Cuban and jazz sensibilities with the lush African traditions of Mr. Keita’s long musical legacy of his griot family.
Transparent Water is where world music meets world jazz, where tradition meets improvisation and where the lines of spiritual and earthy meet. The result is stunningly evocative.
With Mr. Sosa on piano, Fender Rhodes, sampling, microKorg and vocals and Mr. Keita firmly enticing listeners with his kora mastery, as well as talking drum, djembe, sabar and vocals, listeners are treated to the interplay between these two musicians and composers. But as luck would have it, Mr. Sosa and Mr. Keita turn the music on its ears with the additions of Chinese musician Wu Tong on sheng and bawu; Japanese koto master Mieko Miyazaki; Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles on bata drums, culo’puya, maracas, guataca, calabaza and clave; Korean geojungo player E’Joung-Ju; and Rajasthani nagadi player Mosin Khan Kawa.
Cuban rhythms, African melodies and Asian influences pile up, separate and mesh together in an expansive musical tapestry where it’s impossible to pull at one musical thread and undo the lot.
Like water, Transparent Water flows easy from the jazzy opening track “Dary” into the delicately piano and kora interplay of “In the Forest.” Lush track flows into lush track with goodies like the sheng laced “Black Dream,” the catchy African influenced “Mining-Nah” with Mr. Keita’s vocals warming up the track and mysteriously moody “Another Prayer.”
Listeners can’t help but be charmed by tracks like sassy offering “Fatiliku,” the dreamy musical landscape of “Oni Yalorde” with Mr. Tong on the bawu or the piano lines of “Zululand.” Transparent Water is one of those recordings that requires listeners stop and really listen and it’s best if you just go with its flow.
Mr. Sosa, Mr. Keita and company have conjured up a truly brilliant collaboration on Transparent Water. Mesmerizing, evocative and sophisticated, Transparent Water begs for a listen.
Dr. John, or Mac Rebennack as known to friends and family, stands alongside of Louis Armstrong and Fats Domino as one of New Orleans’ all-time distinctive voices. He was born in New Orleans on November 21st of 1940.
His very colorful musical career began in the 1950s when he wrote and played guitar on some of the greatest records to come out of the Crescent City, including recordings by Professor Longhair, Art Neville, Joe Tex and Frankie Ford.
During the 1950s and 60s, he worked as an R&B session man. A notorious gun incident forced the artist to give up the guitar and concentrate on organ and piano. Further trouble at home sent Dr. John west in the 1960s, where he continued to be in demand as a session musician, playing on records by Sonny and Cher, Van Morrison and Aretha Franklin to name a few.
He also launched his solo career, developing the charismatic persona of Dr. John The Night Tripper. Adorned with voodoo charms and regalia, a legend was born with his breakthrough 1968 album Gris-Gris, which established his unique blend of voodoo mysticism, funk, rhythm & blues, psychedelic rock and Creole roots.
Several of his many career highlights include the masterful album The Sun, Moon & Herbs in 1971 which included cameos from Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger and 1973’s In the Right Place, which contained the chart hits “Right Place Wrong Time” and “Such A Night.”
Dr. John garnered Grammy award wins in 1989, 1992, 1996 and 2000. He has also received five other nominations over the years. In 2004, his musical love letter to the city of New Orleans, N’Awlinz: Dis Dat or d’Udda, was awarded the prestigious Académie Charles Cros 57ème Palmarès award in France. It was the first time since the 1970s that an artist from North America received the award.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, as the storm passed but the situation worsened, Dr. John responded in the way he knows best: musically. Dr. John and his band headed into a studio in upstate New York to record a seven-track EP dedicated to the Crescent City. Sippiana Hericane was released by Blue Note Records and all the proceeds from the CD sales were divided equally between the New Orleans Musicians Clinic, the Jazz Foundation of America and the Voice of the Wetlands.
The EP’s centerpiece, a four-part suite “Wade: Hurricane Suite” is book-ended by “Clean Water,” a song composed by Dr. John’s good friend and New Orleans songwriter Bobby Charles, and a version of Dr. John’s “Sweet Home New Orleans” with new lyrics penned by his wife and songwriting partner Cat Yellen. A brief reprise of “Clean Water” ends the EP.
The following is a statement from Dr. John on the devastation of his hometown of New Orleans: “I love New Orleans. I love the people, its food, its culture, the music and the lifestyle. New Orleans is the best of everything. I’m saddened and angered by what has happened. If anybody in the government would’ve done something about the disappearing wetlands for the past fifty years, then this probably wouldn’t have been as bad.
The federal, state and local governments have known for a long time that certain things needed to be done to protect New Orleans. The levees should’ve been able to deal with this assault. Now a high price will be paid for neglecting the needs of the city and its people. It makes me think of what my friend Reverend Goat just told me, ‘Let me say this before it goes any further. New Orleans didn’t die of natural causes, she was murdered.’ Everyone should donate what they can to the relief effort.”
Mercernary, released in 2006, was an idea that came from Dr. John’s daughter Tina, who pointed out that “Personality,” a 1946 hit for Johnny Mercer, would be a perfect fit for her dad’s down-home style. In fact, Tina suggested, why not do a whole album of songs written or popularized this giant of American popular music? That got Mac thinking. Mercer was a fellow Southerner and workaholic—the Savannah-born artist wrote the words, music or both to a good 1,500 songs, a remarkable number of them classics, as well as spending decades as a performer.
“I just loved the way Johnny sold that song Personality,” Mac said. “It was so much out of the old burlesque thing, and you could tell he knew that stuff, and he always appeared to me to have that Southern something about him. He just hit the lines in songs that was like the real McGillicuddy. He was a great singer, a great A&R man, a producer, and he even started Capitol Records. So we started looking at some Mercer stuff.”
After running the idea past Blue Note and getting an enthusiastic response, Dr. John got down to business, poring over Mercer’s massive songbook. “I wanted to pull as many of the ones that people weren’t as familiar with, but it was impossible,” he added. “One thing about Johnny Mercer’s stuff is that even the songs that aren’t that well known are well known from something.”
One of the biggest challenges Dr. John faced was coming up with an original that would both sum up the album’s personality and sit comfortably among his interpretations of Mercer’s songs. “My tribute to Johnny Mercer,” he said, “is ‘I Ain’t No Johnny Mercer,’ which I ain’t. But I took a lot of words from a lot of his songs that I would have never thought to use. I never in my life would’ve thought to use a word like ‘apoplexy’ in a song. I took some lines from ‘Pardon My Southern Accent’ and messed that up, too. Even took my favorite word he used in ‘Moon River’—‘my huckleberry friend.” But what I tried to do was take some Johnny Mercerisms, and just do them the way I would do them to make a little riff at Johnny, with him and about myself. I figured if I’m coppin’ on Johnny Mercer, I might as well cop on myself while I’m doing it. I may not be as good of a mercenary as Johnny Mercer was, but, whatever way you wanna break it down, I’m a mercenary in my own right.”
Mercernary was recorded at New Orleans’ Piety Street Studio in the spring of 2005, a few months before Hurricane Katrina hit. The facility, located in the Bywater (once referred to by locals as the Upper Ninth Ward), escaped serious damage, and it’s back in business now. Despite these and other pockets of activity, says Rebennack, “Every time I go back, I get weirded out by how little or nothing is going on. Sippiana Hericane was a labor of shock. This record was a regulation recording, and I hope it’ll do something in some way to help New Orleans.”
In 2008 Dr. John signed a multi-record agreement with the Savoy Label Group’s 429 Records. His first release under 429 Records was titled The City That Care Forgot, dedicated to Dr. John’s beloved New Orleans. The album features guest artists Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson, Ani DiFranco and Terence Blanchard.
After a half century of creating music for others and himself, Dr. John continues to compose, arrange, produce and perform with passion.
Flamenco pianist David Peña Dorantes was born in Lebrija (Sevilla province), Spain in 1969. He has become a flamenco piano innovator, incorporating jazz, classical music and world music elements to his sound.
His family tree reveals his undisputed roots in flamenco. He is María La Perrata’s grandson, Pedro Peña’s son, Juan Peña de Lebrija’s nephew and a relative of Fernanda and Bernarda de Utrera.
Dorantes has collaborated with well-known Spanish and international artists, including Lole Montoya, Alba Molina, Susheela Raman, Renaud Garcia-Fons, El Barrio, Arcángel, Carmen Linares, Miguel Poveda, and José Mercé.
Sebastián Dominguez Lozano, better known as Chano Domínguez, was born in Cadiz on March 29, 1960. His father was a flamenco enthusiast and young Chano grew up listening to his father’s LPs.
When he was eight years old, Chano’s parents gave him his first instrument: a flamenco guitar. Chano was able to teach himself to play guitar and practiced everything that he had heard on his father’s flamenco records so that he could jam with his friends in the neighborhood.
Chano started playing keyboards with Cai, one of the best rock bands in Andalusia. This group from Cadiz fused traditional Andalusian roots music, including flamenco, with progressive rock. The young keyboardist’s impressive solos and improvisations foretold a promising future. Cai released three landmark albums: Más allá de nuestras mentes diminutas (1978), Noche abierta (1979) and Canción de Primavera (1980).
After Cai’s breakup early in the 1980s, Chano became part of a jazz group called Hixcadix that was also made up of musicians from Cadiz.
In 1992, he decided to form his own trio. Chano led the group with his personal style, fusing flamenco rhythms with the musical forms of jazz. That same year, he was awarded First Prize in the National Jazz Competition for Young Performers and he released his first two records: Chano and Diez de Paco (Paco’s Ten).
In 1995, he produced Coplas de Madrugá (Morning Songs) with acclaimed Spanish singer Martirio. This work covers some of the most important themes in traditional Spanish song and treats them with a genuine jazz aesthetic.
Once Chano established himself as one of the great names in Spanish jazz, his fame spread beyond Spain’s borders. His earthy jazz, Latin, and flamenco sounds were heard by an international audience, thanks to records such as Hecho a mano, Directo a piano solo and Imán, as well as his participation at MIDEM Latino and other famous festivals and conferences.
In 2000 Chano participated in Siegfried Loch’s Jazzpaña II. This project brought jazz and flamenco together. In the summer of 2000 Chano and other Flamenco and jazz luminaries came together at Madrid’s Sonoland Studio. The musicians included bassist Carles Benavent, saxophonist Jorge Pardo, flamenco guitarist Gerardo Nuñez, drummer and percussionist Tino Di Geraldo, celebrated Spanish bebop alto and soprano saxophonist Perico Sambeat, Franco-Spanish bassist Renaud Garcia-Fons, singer Esperanza Fernandez and Chano on piano.
After his successful appearance in the Plaza de La Habana Jazz Festival, and having rubbed shoulders with the best in Latin jazz for the movie and recording Calle 54, the pianist from Cadiz recorded a collection of unforgettable boleros with Marta Valdés for his disk, Tú no sospechas.
In 2005 Chano recorded his first children’s CD. Cuentos del mundo (World Tales) features 16 stories narrated by Constantino Romero and music by Chano.
Chano joined Cuban legend Paquito D’Rivera in 2006. Their performance at Madrid’s Teatro Real was released on DVD. The band included Chano on piano; Paquito D’Rivera on saxophones and clarinet; Angá Díaz on percussion; Marc Miralta on drums; Mario Rossy on double bass; and Israel Suárez “Piraña” on flamenco percussion.
In 2010 Chano collaborated with film director Carlos Saura’s Flamenco Hoy. The show featured musical direction by Chano, choreography by Rafael Estévez and Nani Paños and a cast of 20.
In 2016 he produced “Bendito” featuring Chano as composer and pianist with his favorite ‘cantaor‘ (flamenco singer) Blas Cordoba (a.k.a. “El Kejio”).
Chano is also an experienced educator, available for master classes, workshops and residencies. He has taught at Taller de Músics in Barcelona, The Music Conservatory of Bogotá, the Julliard School in New York and at the School of Music at the University of Washington.
In 2016, Chano moved to New York City.
* Más allá de nuestras mentes diminutas, with Cai (Trova Records, 1978)
Spanish pianist and composer, Ariadna Castellanos Rivas is currently one of the top rising and most promising Flamenco artists. She combines Flamenco and Jazz in order to create a new language, a unique identity.
Ariadna was born in Madrid, Spain, in 1983. She began her music studies at age six. When she was 17 she won a full scholarship to study classical piano at the Guildhall School of Music in London, where she graduated after four years. Throughout her education she has been close to flamenco music. After graduation she returned to Spain to work with famous flamenco figures such as Jorge Pardo, Jesus Del Rosario, and Agustin Carbonell (“El Bola”) and toured the world with flamenco dance companies like Los Vivancos 7.
After four years of work exploring new paths for piano in flamenco, she was signed by the production company Casa Limón for her first album. In 2009, after an impromptu audition in Madrid with Berklee faculty, she won a full Presidential Scholarship to Berklee, , becoming the first Spanish musician to receive this recognition. At Berklee she concentrated on skills specific to improvisation and jazz. In May of 2010, at the college’s commencement exercises, she was chosen to lead the tribute performance for flamenco legend Paco de Lucía, who was in attendance. She is a dual major at Berklee, in both professional music and performance.
Based on her technique, acquired with classical piano training, and her natural sense of improvisation, Ariadna’s performances achieve the highest artistic quality. Ariadna Castellanos has appeared all over the world, bringing her innovative style to such venues as the Palacio de las Artes de Valencia, Monterrey Jazz Festival, Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, and the Heineken JazzFest in Puerto Rico, where she shared program alongside legendary artists such as Paco de Lucía and Michel Camilo.
She recorded her first album for Casa Limón, which was produced by the Grammy Award winning composer and producer Javier Limón (Paco de Lucía, Bebo Valdés, El Cigala, Buika), released in 2012. She has also collaborated with top Spanish artists, including Jorge Pardo, Niño Josele, Agustín Pardo “El Bola”, Sandra Carrasco, Javier Limón, José Mercé, and Alejandro Sanz.