All posts by Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced "Musica NA", a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.

Interview with Composer and Bassist Dawn Drake

Dawn Drake

American composer and multi-instrumentalist Dawn Drake and her band ZapOte have a new album titled Nightshade. She discusses her background and the new recording with World Music Central.

What are your fondest musical memories?

My fondest musical memories are of playing for crowds of dancers whether they are school children, sambistas, late night dance party-goers at Bembe in Brooklyn, for salsa dancers at Brooklyn Academy of Music Cafe or the Kimmel Center’s “La Noche” Latin Music Series.

What was the first tune you learned?

I learned the “Boogie Woogie” also known as “In the Mood” by Glen Miller on piano when I was five.

What do you consider as the essential elements of your music?

Essential elements are polyrhythmic percussion and heavy bass.

Dawn Drake

How did your musical ideas evolve throughout the years from your debut album to your latest recordings?

My musical ideas have become more composition and arrangement-oriented and less “singer-songwriter” based, though I still intend to put out more music with electronic production that may return to even simpler formats.

Your band ZapOte is named after a fruit found in Mexico and the Caribbean. I know this fruit as mamey. What led you to name your band ZapOte?

I see ZapOte as a very feminine fruit. It’s also delicious. The first song I ever wrote as an adult is the chorus of my song “Zapote” which was recorded on my previous album “Everythinglessness”. The song came to me after my first or second visit to Santiago de Cuba, a place that has inspired me greatly with its music, dance and culture over the years. Santiago de Cuba is the first place that I encountered the zapote fruit and I liked it instantly as well as the word itself.

Dawn Drake and ZapOte

Tell us about your new album, Nightshade.

The album is a culmination of various sessions played by a lot of New York’s finest musicians and audio wizards. Please refer to this description for more… It goes into detail about the overall darker mood of the album, the use of the iconography of the Yoruba orisha Oya as it coincides with the seasons and this particular season of darkness and the Day of the Dead, the homage to the ancestors who came before us and the hardships they went through, and how through making art and music come alive; when we make something out of nothing, we can heal the pains of the past and in the process bring people together and create community that may not have existed otherwise.

Dawn Drake and ZapOte – Nightshade

Who plays on Nightshade? Who are the musicians you are currently working with?

I am currently working with Mara Rosenbloom on keys, Eliane Amherd on guitar and vocals, Alicyn Yaffee on guitar, Jackie Coleman on trumpet (for over a decade now), Paula Winter (also for a decade!), Lynn Ligammari on tenor sax, and Beza Gebre on drums. For the album release, Patrick Hall has joined us on trombone and Karen Joseph on flute as well as my long time colleagues Buffy Drysdale and Elizabeth Sayre on batá drums.

Although I liked Nightshade overall, the electronics on the futuristic “Oya de Zarija” track really caught my attention. Will you be making more music in this direction?

Yes, that is my intention, to produce more tracks in that style in the future. Glad you like it!

In the press release you mentioned the bass chose you. What do you mean by that?

I meant that one day I went to a guitar store intending to buy a guitar and impulsively bought a bass instead which the store owner kindly told me came with a “gig bag”. I had never played the bass before and I certainly didn’t intend to get any “gigs” with it but after playing in my living room for a year, I ended up in the bass chair with Geoff Mann (Herbie Mann’s son) on drums, Viva Deconcini and Matt Moon (all from the New School of Jazz) in a band called Buttershack. From there, I have played hundreds of gigs on the bass.

Mainstream media does not provide an outlet for world music. In what ways are you promoting your music?

I promote through Youtube, Spotify, Apple, my email list and my live shows. It is not easy and I am looking for new avenues to promote my music. I would love to land a licensing deal and/or find other ways to get more listenership.

Dawn Drake and ZapOte live at the Shrine

What advice would you give to beginners, especially young women, who want to make music out of the pop and hip hop mainstream?

I would say, study and practice very hard to be the best you can be at your craft whether that is playing your instrument, singing and/or writing. It seems also that it pays off to get very good at learning how to promote yourself on Instagram. This is something I am really trying to improve at. I would also say that tenacity and risk taking are key. I personally have gained a lot from reading and doing the exercises in The Artist Way by Julia Cameron.

If you could gather any additional musicians, or bands, to collaborate with, whom would that be?

I would love to collaborate with Captain Planet, Antibalas and/or perhaps a producer who I don’t know yet who is interested in my work! One of my dream is to record a tune with musicians from Alexander Abreu and Havana d’ Primera in Cuba and possibly another upcoming artist in Cuba “Cimafunk”.

I recently went to Senegal this year to further my understanding of sabar drumming and mbalax music and I would love to collaborate with Thiat Seck and other Senegalese mbalax singers and musicians. I want to continue collaborating with international artists and it remains one of my main goals to continue to expand outward and do more projects with musicians abroad.

Aside from the release of Nightshade, do you have any additional upcoming projects to share with us?

We have several shows coming up in New York City, namely Bembe in Brooklyn (81 South 6th st.) November 17th at 11 pm and Shrine World Music (Adam Clayton Powell jr. Blvd between 133rd and 134th streets) in Harlem on December 21st at 10 pm.

I have also been selected to participate and present my music in a seminar sponsored by the US State Department called “Art, Culture and Transforming Conflict” in Santa Fe, New Mexico December 10-14. We hope to do more State Department sponsored tours abroad in the coming years.

In the meantime we also have a regular Tuesday night show called “Mardi Gras Fat Tuesdays” at Club 33 Lafayette in Brooklyn on 33 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217, every Tuesday 8-11 pm starting November 12.

Share

Artist Profiles: Alexander Abreu

Alexander Abreu

Alexander Abreu Manresa was born September 6, 1976 in Cienfuegos, Cuba. He comes from a family of nonprofessional musicians, including his grandfather who taught him to play the tres guitar.

As a boy, he wanted to be an athlete, but his mother took him to a school that tested abilities and he got the highest scores in music. Alexander started studying trumpet at age 11 and credits his mother for inspiring him to practice and pursue his career.

Originally, Abreu wanted to give up the trumpet and take up the flute, but his teachers understood his talent and insisted, predictively, that he stick to the brass instrument. At 18, the young musician moved to Havana to continue his studies at the prestigious Escuela Nacional de Arte (ENA), a breeding ground for Cuba’s best musicians. He graduated in 1994 and later would return as a professor, teaching trumpet.

In Havana, Abreu found himself at the focal point of the timba music upsurge that rocked Cuba in the early 1990s, marking an exciting evolution in the way Afro-Cuban dance music, or salsa, was performed. He played for six years with the innovative band of singer Paulito FG, one of the leading stars of the timba wave. Abreu’s skills were forged in this powerful ensemble, working together with two musicians he considers his greatest influences – Carmelo Andrés, his trumpet teacher; and producer/arranger Juan Manuel Ceruto. Several band-mates from this influential ensemble would go on to form part of Havana D’Primera, including Ceruto.

Abreu has also played and/or recorded with virtually every major act during one of the most exciting and creative eras in Cuban music. He was a member of the popular and esteemed band led by singer Isaac Delgado, who now lives in Miami.

Alexander Abreu

As a highly sought-after studio musician, Abreu has recorded with top acts in different styles, including famed dance band Los Van Van and powerful fusion group Irakere. He has also worked with poetic singer-songwriters such as Pablo Milanés and Amaury Pérez, who played trombone in Havana D’Primera. In addition, Abreu was recruited for previous all-star projects, such as the touring timba band named Team Cuba and the Grammy-winning Cuban roots recording “La Rumba Soy Yo.”

After the Cuban dance music scene started declining in 2000, Abreu traveled to Europe and spent time in Denmark, where he was invited to give master classes in trumpet and Cuban music at the jazz conservatory of Copenhagen. During an extended stay there, he joined Grupo Dansón, a band composed of Cuban and Danish musicians, serving as arranger and composer. Abreu appeared in Europe’s top music festivals and in 2002 he performed on the same stage with Sting, Lou Reed and James Brown as part of the benefit concert “Pavarotti & Friends.”

The time he spent performing abroad helped Abreu avoid the consequences of other Cuban timba bands, often considered too tailored to a home crowd and too hard for outsiders to dance to.

“I believe that to live outside of Cuba for a time has been one of the keys to the hallmark of this group,” said Abreu of his band. “Because I learned how to interact with people that don’t speak the language. I learned how to spread that same happiness and energy….You have to be precise with the rhythms and arrangements. You have to make sure that they are understandable, that they are solid, that they are clear, so that people understand.”

By 2007, Abreu was back in Havana putting together his own band. The aspiring bandleader returned home with only an developing concept, inspired by a New York salsa band he had seen in Copenhagen. There, he had watched the Grammy-winning Spanish Harlem Orchestra, a group of veteran salsa musicians who came together with a common determination – to recapture some of the original sound and excitement of the great salsa bands of the 1970s. The group, led by pianist Oscar Hernandez who had played with salsa greats such as Ray Barretto and Ruben Blades, managed to generate enough nostalgia to initiate a one-band salsa revival, touring the world and recording various popular albums featuring star vocalists such as Blades.

That served as an inspiration to do something similar with session musicians in Havana,” said Abreu. “It gave me the strength to come to Cuba and say, ‘I can do it here.’ From that idea, basically, Habana D’Primera is born.”

Abreu brought together an ensemble of experienced musicians who had played with some of the best bands of that exhilarating era, a golden age of contemporary Cuban salsa and timba. Concerned about the decline of Afro-Cuban dance music, Abreu decided to continue the great tradition started by the very bands he had played with, such as Paulito FG y Su Elite and Isaac Delgado.

Since 2000, many of the leading timba stars had left Cuba, including Manolin, Isaac Delgado and Carlos Manuel, all of whom were Abreu’s colleagues and collaborators. In the meantime, young fans in Cuba flocked to foreign pop music styles such as rock, rap and reggaeton, leaving the legacy of Cuba’s rich native dance music to decay.

Alexander Abreu and Havana D’Primera

For Abreu and his new band, the challenge of generating a revival was overwhelming. No new Cuban dance band had managed to break into the top tiers of popular music acts since the turn of the century, when Cesar Pedroso broke away from Los Van Van and formed his own band, Pupy y Los Que Son, Son. Record companies, radio stations and nightclubs all focused on the latest fads, especially reggaeton which had removed salsa off the music charts. Amazingly, so many deejays had turned to reggaeton that there was no place to dance salsa in the capital of the country where the music was invented.

The crisis gave Abreu the opportunity to build a grass-roots fan base just like the timba pioneers had done at the start of the dance music movement in the late 1980s and early 1990s. That was known as “the special period” in Cuban history, a time of extreme economic difficulty when bands were forced to practice in the dark due to frequent blackouts and try out their material on stage due to a lapse in record production. For a while, Cuban dance music was all about the live performance, a need that helped stimulate creativity. Following his predecessors, Havana D’Primera began working live shows, building a following the old-fashioned way, one fan at a time.

Before long, fans were packing Havana d’Primera’s regular Tuesday shows at Casa de la Musica, a club and cultural center in the residential Miramar section of Havana. Even though they had not yet released a record, loyal fans memorized song lyrics from the live shows.

The weekly concerts were essential to the band’s development. Soon, the unknown band started to develop an underground buzz.

Alexander Abreu y Havana D’Primera – Haciendo Historia

Havana D’Primera recorded its first album Haciendo Historia in 2009.

In 2012, Abreu performed as an actor in the movie 7 Days in Havana, in the section “Tuesday Jam Session” with Serbian film director and musician Emir Kusturica.

The album “Cantor del Pueblo” won the Cubadisco Award in 2018.

Discography:

Haciendo Historia (EGREM, 2009)
Pasaporte (Páfata Productions, 2013)
La Vuelta al Mundo (Páfata Productions, 2015)
Cantor del Pueblo (Páfata Productions, 2018)

Share

World Music Winners at the 2019 Latin Grammy Awards

The 2019 Latin Grammy Awards ceremony took place yesterday, November 14, 2019. We feature here the list of winners in roots music categories that are generally included under the world music umbrella.

Album Of The Year

El Mal Querer – Rosalia (Sony Music Entertainment España)

Best Salsa Album

Mas De Mi – Tony Succar (Unity Entertainment)

Best Cumbia/Vallenato Album

Yo Me Llamo Cumbia – Puerto Candelaria & Juancho Valencia (Merlín Producciones/Peermusic)

Best Traditional Tropical Album

Andrés Cepeda Big Band (En Vivo) – Andrés Cepeda (Sony Music)

Best Contemporary/Tropical Fusion Album

Literal – Juan Luis Guerra 4.40 (Universal Music Latino)

Best Tropical Song

Kitipun – Juan Luis Guerra, songwriter (Juan Luis Guerra 4.40) (Universal Music Latino)

Best Folk Album

Tiempo Al Tiempo – Luis Enrique + C4 Trio (Chazz Music/ Empire Records)

Best Tango Album

Revolucionario – Quinteto Astor Piazzolla (East 54 Entertainment)

Best Latin Jazz/Jazz Album

Jazz Batá 2 – Chucho Valdés (Mack Avenue Music Group)

Best Samba/Pagode Album

Mart’nália Canta Vinicius De Moraes – Mart’nália (Biscoito Fino)

Best MPB (Musica Popular Brasileira) Album

OK OK OK – Gilberto Gil (Biscoito Fino)

Best Portuguese Language Roots Album

Hermeto Pascoal E Sua Visão Original Do Forró – Hermeto Pascoal (Scubidu Music)

For the complete list of winners, go to Latin Grammys

headline image: cover of Kitipun – Juan Luis Guerra

Share

Artist Profiles: Robert Zollitsch

Robert Zollitsch – Photo by Silvina Couste

Robert Zollitsch is a noted composer, producer, director, ethnomusicologist, and musical painter. His compositions weave a delicate balance of his influences, fusing together elements of dramatically different cultures into a style that is uniquely Robert Zollitsch.

Zollitsch was born in Munich in 1966. He chose the Bavarian zither (a 42 string instrument with a five octave range) as his instrument early in his childhood. His studies in music theory, both in Munich and Berlin, strengthened his abilities to create. He made a quick decision to abandon the traditional ways of playing his zither, deciding instead to develop a new style of performance on an instrument steeped in the tradition of his cultural heritage. Zollitsch has adapted this new style to a wide variety of music.

His compositions and improvisations have been performed on classical stages, as well as folk and world music festivals and jazz clubs. In 1993, after receiving a German Academic Exchange scholarship, Zollitsch began to focus on Asian music. He studied Guqin (Chinese zither) at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. From that time forth, he has continued to work on numerous projects with Asian artists. For example, in 1997, Zollitsch received a grant from the Berlin Senate to lay the foundation for the Eurasian Art Ensemble. He was bandleader for Mongolian songstress, Uma Chahar-Tugchi. His sophisticated compositions and arrangements for Uma’s charismatic voice are well known to international audiences.

Zollitsch’s experiments with vocals range from the Bavarian yodeling of his cultural heritage to the throat singing he has mastered following many trips through Mongolia and Tibet. In the summer of 1999, Robert was the recipient of the German Folk Forderpreis award for the best new Folk artist. The three pieces he contributed to the 1999 German ProFolk Forderpreis sampler CD showcase the diversity of influences that Robert infuses into his compositions.

Ever the ethnomusicologist, Zollitsch produced a landmark CD of Tibetan folk music field recordings in 1999. He continues to seek out new and innovative projects, and looks at each as an opportunity to expand on his own musical creativity as well.

Zollitsch’s first solo CD, Zwiefach (Oriente RIEN CD 31), is a musical tour of his influences and travels. The compositions paint a variety of moods, ranging from the melancholic instrumental works of Traurige Gschicht (Sad Story) to the wild, Jodler Nr. 7 (a musical collage of Bavarian yodeling, and Asian throat singing). Zollitsch has used his worldly experiences as paint, the zither and his voice as a palette, and each composition as a canvas, making Zwiefach a musical museum of his creativity.

Since 2003 Robert Zollitsch has lived in Beijing, China.

Partial Discography:

Zwiefach ‎(Oriente Musik, 2000)
Zanskar (Klangräume, 2002)
Jing Ye Si (2006)
Ye Xue (a.k.a. Night Snows, 2010)


Share

Artist Profiles: Gotan Project

The three principle members of Gotan Project – Parisian Philippe Cohen Solal, Swiss-born Christophe Mueller and Argentine musician Eduardo Makaroff – came together in the late 1990s through a mutual passion for the combination of sound with image, but were equally driven by the desire to successfully mix electronic and acoustic music.

They then built on a foundation of house and dub production by adding some of the finest Argentine tango musicians. The result was a blend of Parisian production with Buenos Aires tradition.

Their debut album was La Revancha Del Tango. In early 2004, Philippe Cohen Solal compiled a mix album of new tracks and remixes on behalf of the band, Inspiracion Espiracion (XL Recordings). Philippe Cohen Solal explained some of the factors that led them to make this album, which was not exactly a new GoTan Project record, but a collection of new tracks, plus GoTan Project remixing tracks and people mixing GoTan Project tracks:

“We set ourselves the challenge of bringing together past influences and present aspirations for just one hour – the Ancients and the Moderns. Indeed, what difference is there between a 40s groove, a 70s groove, and a groove for tomorrow? There is a difference in the sound quality of the recordings, naturally, but that aside, Anibal Troilo grooves, Astor Piazzolla grooves, and Pepe Bradock grooves. One is an amazing arranger, one a songwriting genius, and the other an inspired producer. Calexico, Domingo Cura, Peter Kruder, Anibal Troilo, Anti Pop Consortium, GoTan Project, Pepe Bradock, Al Shid and the voices of those Argentinean women, legendary figures, stars or unknowns, with names like Evita, Cecilia and Rita.”

GoTan Project also had a visual component. The second disc that accompanied the album included a video by their longtime visual collaborator, Prisca Lobjoy. She is a video artist and was part of the GoTan Project world since the very beginning, from the design of their first single sleeves, to the album cover and, above all, the creation of the videos, which were projected during the live shows.

The group’s third recording, Lunatico, had a decidedly stronger emphasis on the more organic roots of tango. “We really wanted to explore both tango and folkloric music from Argentina a lot further than we had before,” said Philippe. “That’s why many of the tracks are classically tango-oriented, very traditional patterns that people like (Anibal) Troilo would use.”

Discography:

La Revancha del Tango (XL Recordings, 2001)
Lunático (XL Recordings, 2006)
Tango 3.0 (XL Recordings, 2010)

Share

Artist Profiles: Gao Hong

Gao Hong

Gao Hong was born in 1964 in Luoyang, Henan province, China. She is a renowned composer and Chinese pipa (lute) player. Gao Hong has resided in the United States since 1994.

In 2005 Gao Hong became the first traditional musician to be awarded the prestigious Bush Artist Fellowship, and in 2012 she became the only musician in any genre to win four McKnight Artist Fellowships for Performing Musicians.

Gao’s composition for solo pipa, ‘Flying Dragon’ won the 2012 Global Music Award – Award of Excellence Solo Instrumental (Gold Medal).

Her 2015 album Pipa Potluck includes collaborations with musicians from various parts ofthe world, including banjo player Alison Brown, fiddler Matt Combs, bassist Garry West, slack key guitar viertuoso George Kahumoku, Jr., ud player Yair Dalal, and Bassam Saba.

In 2016, Gao Hong completed the first ever pipa method book written in English published by Hal Leonard, the world’s largest sheet music publisher.

Discography:

Hunting Eagles Catching Swans, with Lin Shicheng (1996)
Hui/Gathering, with Belladonna Baroque Quartet
Flying Dragon (Innova Recordings, 2003)
First Word – Speaking In Tongues
The Spirit of Nature
A Peacock Southeast Flew
Quiet Forest, Flowing Stream
Pipa Potluck – Lutes Around the World (Innova, 2015)
Chinese Buddhist Temple Music (ARC Music, 2018)

Share

Artist Profiles: Bao Jian

Bao Jian

Bao Jian is a master of the guanzi (a double-reed folk wind instrument of ancient Chinese origin) and has performed extensively as a soloist and chamber musician worldwide. Praised by The Berlin Daily Post for his “pure hallowed music from the East,” Mr. Bao has captivated audiences with his virtuosity.

Bao has received an impressive list of awards including the 1998 Pro Musicis International Award in New York and the First Prize in the 1995 International Chinese Ethnic Instrumental Competition in Beijing.

Discography:

Guan Zi and Sheng, with Hu Jianbing Snow Stringed Instruments, 2002)
Chinese Buddhist Temple Music (Arc Music, 2018)

Share

Misia, a Different Side of Fado, Free from Rules

Misia – Pura Vida (Banda Sonora)

Misia – Pura Vida (Banda Sonora) (Galileo Music, 2019)

Portuguese singer Misia is known for her superb vocals and unconventional approach to fado, exerting artistic freedom. This is evident as soon as she listen to the first track, “Rosa Negra no Meu Peito II” on her new album Pura Vida (Banda Sonora).  Misia delivers a fado exclusively with voice and bass clarinet, a rare combination in the genre.

Throughout the album, the focus is on the vocals intertwined with virtuosic instrumental performances. On track 2, “Ouso Dizer,” Misia continues with her rebel approach by using Portuguese guitar and an electric guitar solo.

Although the first two songs are in Portuguese, she switches over to Spanish on track 3, “Corazón y Hueso.”  This is a deeply passionate tango piece, with a mix of vocals, bandoneon, piano and guitar. She is joined by famed Argentine singer Melingo, a former rocker turned tango singer.

Misia returns to Portuguese language and exquisite fado on track 4, “Os Homens Que Eu Amei,” utilizing piano, guitar and violin.

Track 5, “Lágrima” includes reverberating ambient electric guitar and vocals.

On “Ausência” she combines fado vocals with soaring electric guitar, clarinet and violin.

Track 7, “Fado dos 2 Pardais,” is a lovely classic fado with voice, Portuguese guitar and piano.

On “Escrevo na Pele,” Misia’s ensemble includes impassioned violin, piano and guitar.

Ghostly drone-like electric guitar, piano and bassoon give way to Misia’s vocals on track 9,” Destino.”

On “Pasión”, Misia returns to Spanish language with another tango, although this time she adds electric guitar to the familiar tango sounds. Portuguese fado singer Ricardo Ribeiro joins Misia, singing in Spanish as well.

Track 11, “Fadinho do Anúncio,” mixes fado with a Gypsy Jazz swing feel.

Back to fado on Track 12, “Santo e Senha” featuring piano, violin and Portuguese guitar with dreamlike sounds underneath it all.

A third tango song in Spanish is included in Pura Vida. “Prelúdio para el Año 3001” is a recreation of a song by Astor Piazzolla, a contemporary tango with piano, bandoneon and clarinet.

The album ends with an outstanding classic fado titled that winds up with a final drone.

Buy Pura Vida (Banda Sonora)

More about Misia.

Share

Steve Khan’s Splendid Mix of Jazz and Afro-Cuban Beats

Steve Khan – Patchwork – Medio Mezclado (Tone Center, 2019)

Virtuoso jazz guitarist Steve Khan continues his enchanting combinations of jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms on Patchwork.  In this case, Khan has taken jazz classics and recreated them with harmonic and rhythmic modifications. The jazz artists chosen include Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman, Joe Henderson, Alan Jay Lerner, Keith Jarrett, and Bobby Hutcherson.

Khan has built one of the most formidable rhythm sections in contemporary American jazz, featuring an exquisite blend of Afro-Cuban rhythms; masterfully arranged and recorded.

Khan’s colleague, keyboardist, composer and arranger Rob Mounsey plays a bigger role on Patchwork with inspired string and brass arrangements as well as superb electric piano and synth work.

Steve Khan – Patchwork – Medio Mezclado

Highlights include the opening track, Thelonious Monk and Kenny Clarke’s “Epistrophy,” a high energy electric guitar piece with a creative rhythm section of drum set, Afro-Cuban drums and bass; and “Bouquet” by Ornette Coleman, with Khan acoustic guitar. This piece is turned into a lovely down tempo bolero with exquisite Spanish and Latin American-influenced guitar work, delicate drums and percussion, and beautiful orchestrations.

Other high points include Khan’s composition “Naan Issue,” a delicious bluesy cha cha cha; the lively “A Shade of Jade” (Joe Henderson) featuring a superb flugelhorn performance by Randy Brecker; the timeless Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane piece “Too Late Now” transformed into a bolero-paced ballad with outstanding guitar work, magnificent orchestrations and subtle rhythms; and the fusion-leaning “T. & T.,” where Khan turns this Ornette Coleman composition into high energy Latin jazz rooted in a Mozambique rhythm. 

Lastly, a tune that captivated me is the outstanding rendering of Keith Jarret’s “The Journey Home.” This is the longest track on the album, with various sections. It opens with a dreamy slow tempo segment with Khan back on acoustic guitar, delivering delicious interplay with the electric piano, and then moving forward to lively Afro-Cuban beats and electric guitar, beautiful wordless vocals. And then the music slows down and concludes with a truly excellent acoustic guitar and synthesizer duet over a layer of percussion and masterfully-crafted orchestrations.

The lineup on Patchwork includes Steve Khan on guitars and vocals; Rubén Rodríguez on baby bass and electric bass; Dennis Chambers on drums; Marc Quiñones on timbales, bongos, percussion; Bobby Allende on conga; Rob Mounsey on keyboards and orchestrations: Randy Brecker on flugelhorn; Bob Mintzer on tenor saxophone; Tatiana Parra on vocals; and Jorge Estrada on keyboards and arrangements.

Buy Patchwork

Share

Artist Profiles: Kristin Scott Benson

Kristin Scott Benson

Kristin Scott Benson grew up in South Carolina, surrounded by a musical family. After receiving a much-anticipated banjo for Christmas when she was thirteen, Kristin became enthralled with the instrument and spent her teen years studying the playing of all the banjo greats from Earl Scruggs to Bela Fleck.

After high school, she attended Nashville’s esteemed Belmont University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BBA in Marketing and a minor in Music Business.

She was a member of the Larry Stephenson Band for seven years. In 2008 she joined Nashville bluegrass band the Grascals, replacing Aaron McDaris.

After 13 years in Nashville, she relocated back to the Carolinas with her husband and young son. Her solo release, Second Season, features eight instrumentals (half of them originals) and four vocal performances. The album showcases her powerful banjo playing, while still appealing to fans that aren’t motivated solely by instrumental prowess.

is the four-time International Bluegrass Music Association’s Banjo Player of the Year (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011).

Kristin Scott Benson is the 2018 winner of the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass. “My family and I are overwhelmed with gratefulness!” said Benson. “Getting to know my banjo heroes, many of whom are on the board, is prize enough, but Steve Martin’s graciousness is a huge blessing. We don’t know how to adequately say thank you for something like this!”

Discography:

Straight Paths (Pinecastle, 2002)
Second Season (Pinecastle, 2009)
Life Finds A Way, with the Grascals (Mountain Home, 2012)
When I Get My Pay, with the Grascals (Mountain Home, 2013)
…and then there’s this, with the Grascals (Mountain Home, 2016)
Stringworks (Mountain Home, 2016)
Before Breakfast, with the Grascals (Mountain Home, 2017)

Share