Legendary pianist Mark Levine’s CD, Off and On (Left Coast Clave Record 2009) is dedicated to the Brazilian artist, composer and saxophonist Moacir Santos. Mark Levine is a famed Latin Jazz pianist, residing in the San Francisco Bay Area/Oakland (California). He is a also a composer and author. Mark Levine has written many tunes, including the famed merengue titled ‘Santo Domingo’, recorded by the late Cal Tjader and recently recorded by trumpet virtuoso Bobby Shew.
Mr. Levine has been on a Cal Tjader’s Grammy award winning Concord Jazz recording La Onda Va Bien and he is also a recent Latin Grammy nominee. He is the author of excellent Jazz Piano method books and a master piano and jazz Instructor worldwide in his own right.
Mark Levine has an endless history of playing, recording and composing for the masters of Latin jazz, such as Cal Tjader, Joe Henderson, Francisco Aguabella, Pete Escovedo, Willie Bobo, Woody Shaw, Poncho Sanchez, Mongo Santamaria and a host of others.
The album Off and On is a good example of Mark Levine’s talents with the bossa nova rhythm and with Brazilian music. With a host of fine musicians and the fiery conga sound of LP conga player, Michael Spiro on the song Nana, therefore, giving Mark Levine the ability to conquer such challenges in music from Brazil.
I asked Mark Levine, what inspired him to do this tribute to Moacir Santos: “I played with Moacir a few months in the late 60’s and recorded one LP with him, Saudade. I feel in love with his music and have always wanted to do a tribute album,” said Mark.
Mark, you were nominated for a Latin Grammy for the Santos cd. What has been the feedback from this CD?
“Reviews…great, except for Down Beat (2 stars). Radio play…decent, but some stations didn’t know how to program it. Brazilian music done Afro-Cuban style?, and sales…dismal, but nobody else is selling CD’s these days.”
Mark shows us a great adventure in this ability to expose us to the beautiful music of Moacir Santos, and hopefully Mark Levine will pursue more adventures, exposing us to more music from the legends he has played with.
Buy the album:
- In North America: Off and On. Other recordings available: Serengeti, Hey It’s Me, Isla, One Notch Up
- In Europe: Off and On. Other recordings available: Serengeti, Isla, Pilgrims Progress, Hey, It’s Me
Author: Les Moncada
Les Moncada is a former Latin Jazz orchestra leader and conguero for over 40 years. He was born in Oakland, California and currently resides in Sacramento, California.
Les Moncada was an apprentice to conga and batá master Francisco Aguabella, a friend of vibraphonist Cal Tjader, Latin Jazz band leader Pete Escovedo, conguero Armando Peraza and many more.
He has been writing for many years for World Music Central.
Les Moncada’s Facebook site is: Timbales and Congas Bongo Bata and bells.