Artist Profiles: Luis Muñoz

Luis Muñoz

Luis Muñoz, composer, arranger and percussionist, was born in San Jose, Costa Rica. Coming from a very musical family, Luis showed an early interest in the arts and spent his youth performing in rock and jazz groups. In 1972 Luis entered the University of Costa Rica where he studied both Architecture and Music. He studied privately at the National Music Conservatory and with the principal flutist of the National Symphony Orchestra.

In 1974 Luis emigrated to the United States and there completed his Degree in Music Composition at the University of California, Santa Barbara, under the tutelage of British composer Peter Fricker. For the last 30 years Luis Muñoz has written music for educational and sports documentaries, animation films, radio and television jingles, dance and theater. In addition, Muñoz has worked as a music producer and arranger, as well as a percussionist for numerous artists such as Airto Moreira, Etta James, Flora Purim and Jim Messina.

Luis Muñoz has made numerous recordings of his music throughout the years. In 1980, commissioned by the Costa Rican government, Muñoz wrote and recorded Costa Rica-Costa Rica. Luis donated all the proceeds generated by the sales of that recording to the Red Cross in Nicaragua, a nation at the time desperately trying to heal itself from the effects of a devastating civil war. In 1988 he signed with CBS Records and recorded La Verdad.

In 1996, Fahrenheit Records released The Fruit of Eden, co-produced by Dominic Camardella. It marked Muñoz’s debut in the US. In 1998, Muñoz brought listeners a more progressive and exotic expression on his next endeavor, Compassion, continuing to evolve as an innovative force in instrumental music.

I grew up in Costa Rica, which is right in the middle of the American continent,” he said, “and being in a place where every form of Latin music merges really had an impact on me. Coming from a large family that included amateur instrumentalists as well as professional composers, my involvement with music started at a very early age. I was constantly being exposed to the plentiful, multi-faceted world of Latin American music; the pleasure, inspiration and joy that came from that experience were very important factors in my decision to become a composer.

I remember listening to the songs of Chilean Victor Jara and Violeta Parra; the voices of Mercedes Sosa and Milton Nascimento; the Argentinean Tango; the music of the Andean “Altiplano.” I loved the music of Brazil, with the pulsating rhythms of the samba, the maracatu, the partido alto and the baiao, plus the gentle beauty of the bossa nova; the cumbia from Colombia, the merengue from the Dominican Republic, the calypso from Trinidad, the norte?a and ranchera music from Mexico, the bomba and plena from Puerto Rico and the music of Cuba. Cuban music, with it’s deep African roots, has offered the world the gifts of the rumba, the cha-cha-cha, the son montuno, songo, mambo, guaracha and guaguanc?, creating beats to which the entire world now dances.”

Muñoz continues, ” … In loving and appreciating these styles of music I grew up with, I would soon realize that there was much more yet to be discover. Early on I remember being exposed to the music of Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk, which ignited my unquenchable thirst for jazz. Then, during my early teens, the” British Invasion,” and music from groups like the Beatles would introduce me to a new type of music and culture from other parts of the world. Naturally, as a student at the Music Conservatory of the University of Costa Rica, I found myself deeply intrigued with the classical music repertoire. Bach, Ravel, Chopin, Stravinsky … the influences were many and varied. I was in awe of the vast emotional spectrum of classical music. The passion and depth, the rapture and relevance, the sheer magic that can only be found in some of the greatest works ever written.”

Muñoz’s album Vida includes special guests Jonathan Dane and Adolfo Acosta (Tower of Power) on trumpets, Randy Tico (Airto Moreira) on electric bass, world renown classical bassist Nico Abondolo, Brian Mann (Larry Carlton) on accordion, Kevin Winard (Sergio M?ndez) on percussion, Ron Kalina (Linda Ronstadt) on chromatic harmonica and Charlie Bisharat (Strunz & Farah) on violin.

Discography:

The Fruit of Eden (Pelin Music 1995), reissued in 1996 byFarenheit Records
Compassion (1998)
Vida (2004)
Of Soul & Shadow (2007)
Invisible (2010)
Luz (2013)
Voz (2015)
The Dead Man (2017)

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Artist Profiles: Jorge Strunz

Jorge Strunz – Photo by Eric Strunz

Jorge Strunz was born in Costa Rica and was given his first guitar at age 6. He began performing professionally in their early teens.

The travels of his diplomat father brought Jorge to the United States. In the mid-1970s, Strunz formed a Latin jazz group called Caldera, together with Argentine keyboardist Eduardo del Barrio. Caldera signed with Capitol Records and recorded as self-titled debut album. Caldera was offered another recording with Capitol, but the band was not happy with the label and had interest from CBS. They left Capitol but the deal with CBS fell through. The group disbanded in 1979.

Fortune and music brought Jorge Strunz and Ardeshir Farah together, when fellow guitarist Ardeshir came to see Jorge perform with Caldera. When the two guitarists subsequently met, it was instantly obvious that they were brothers of the guitar from opposite ends of the earth. They quickly prepared a repertoire, began performing, and recorded their first project, Mosaico, in 1980, under the name Strunz & Farah.

Although record companies at that time were not yet ready for this new hybrid music, jazz radio embraced it enthusiastically, and the duo caught the attention of Milestone that released two of the duo’s CDs in the early 1980s, ‘Frontera’ and ‘Guitarras’.

The intimate audiophile recording Misterio was commissioned and recorded by Waterlily Acoustics in 1989. Following this came the phenomenally successful recordings Primal Magic (1990) and Americas (1992) on Mesa/Atlantic, which won Billboard’s World Music Album of the Year and a Grammy nomination, respectively. The artists then started their own record company, Selva, as an artist-friendly alternative to the majors and put out Heat of the Sun, (top 10 Billboard World Music chart) and Live, the artists’ first live performance recording. Strunz &Farah received back the rights to Primal Magic and Americas, which were re-released on Selva, which the artists will own and distribute independently.

In 2010, Jorge Strunz released an excellent acoustic guitar solo album titled Neotropical Nocturnes.

Solo Albums

Neotropical Nocturnes (Selva, 2010)

Strunz and Farah Discography:

Mosaico (1982, Reissued on Selva 1997)

Frontera (Milestone 1984)

Guitarras (Milestone 1985)

Misterio (AudioQuest 1989)

Primal Magic (1990, Reissued on Selva 1999)

Americas (1992 Reissued on Selva 1999)

Heat Of The Sun (Selva 1995)

Live (Selva 1997)

Wild Muse (Selva 1998)

Best of Strunz &Farah (Selva 2000)

Stringweave (Selva 2001)

Rio de Colores (Selva 2003)

Zona Torrida (Selva 2004)

Desert Guitars (Selva 2005)

Jungle Guitars (Selva 2006)

Fantaseo (Selva 2006)

Journey Around The Sun (Selva 2011)

Moods and Visions (Selva 2014)

DVD

In Performance (2003)

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Artist Profiles: Jaime Gamboa

Jaime Gamboa

Jaime Gamboa is a philologist, publicist, poet and bass player. He has written much of the lyrics of Malpais’ songs, along with his late brother Fidel, and shared responsibility for organizing the International Festival of Arts with Iván Rodríguez.

Malpaís Discography:

Uno (Papaya Music, 2002)
Historias de nadie (Papaya Music, 2004)
Malpaís en vivo (Papaya Music, 2006)
Un día lejano (Papaya Music, 2009)
La canción de Adán (2009)
Hay niños aquí (Papaya Music, 2010)
Volver a casa (2011)

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Artist Profiles: Iván Rodríguez

Iván Rodríguez

Iván Rodríguez was a violinist in the National Symphonic Orchestra of Costa Rica for twenty years, and member of Adrián Goizueta’s Grupo Experimental and the Probus Ensemble string quartet.

Iván also plays mandolin, guitar, keyboard, Celtic flute and percussion. He has composed music for dance and theater and is one of the founders of the Jazz Café, indisputable focal point for Costa Rica’s urban musicians and numerous international figures. He directed the International Festival of Arts in Costa Rica.

He’s a member of Malpais.

Malpaís Discography:

Uno (Papaya Music, 2002)
Historias de nadie (Papaya Music, 2004)
Malpaís en vivo (Papaya Music, 2006)
Un día lejano (Papaya Music, 2009)
La canción de Adán (2009)
Hay niños aquí (Papaya Music, 2010)
Volver a casa (2011)

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Artist Profiles: Fidel Gamboa

Fidel Gamboa

Fidel Gamboa Goldemberg, better known as Fidel Gamboa, was born in Nicoya, Costa Rica on August 6, 1961. He was the musical director, lyricist and singer for Malpais.

Fidel was also a composer, arranger and performer with extensive experience. Some of his songs were performed by Rubén Blades and Pedro Aznar.

Along with playing saxophone, guitar and flute, Fidel composed a large number of works for dance, theater and chamber groups. He was a member of Grupo Experimental and several jazz groups in Costa Rica.

Fidel Gamboa died on August 28, 2011.

Malpaís Discography:

Uno (Papaya Music, 2002)
Historias de nadie (Papaya Music, 2004)
Malpaís en vivo (Papaya Music, 2006)
Un día lejano (Papaya Music, 2009)
La canción de Adán (2009)
Hay niños aquí (Papaya Music, 2010)
Volver a casa (2011)

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Artist Profiles: Cantoamérica

Cantoamérica

Singer-songwriter and guitarist Manuel Monestel founded Afro-Latin band Cantoamerica. Their music is influenced by Cuban son, salsa and calypso. In fact, the group calls it: calypso-salsa.

Their lyrics are given additional spice when interpreted by band leader Manuel Monestel in the local ‘creole’ language of Mecatelio.

Discography:

Seguirá el Amor (Kaiso Music, 1982)
Haciendo el Día (Nord/Sud Records, 1985)
Cantoamérica (1986)
Buscando esa Bella Flor (Kaiso Music, 1988)
Canto de la Tierra (Kaiso Music, 1990)
Por la Calles de la Vida (Kaiso Music, 1995)
Aribarumba (Kaiso Music, 1997)
Calypsonians (Kaiso Music, 1999)
Palale Pot (Kaiso Music, 2002)
Vamos Cantoamérica (DYM, 2003)
Cantoamérica, 25 Años (Kaiso Music, 2006)
Vientos del Caribe (Papaya Music, 2007)
Vuela otra vez (2015)

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Artist Profiles: Nene Tchakou

Nene Tchakou

Nene Tchakou was born in Banana (Bas Congo) in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He started his music career by playing guitar for the choir formed by military parents for a group of their children in Kinshasa.

He made his debut in 1973 with a band called Bella Negrita (Zane Kitambo). There after, Nene Tchakou embarked on a major career venture highlighted below: He produced an album by the name “Alila” and the dance then was “Careton A L’aisement”; this album was a major success. In 1981, Nene joined the popular group “Langa Langa Sta” where he got his stage name “Tchakou” which means “Parot” in Lingala.

In 1983, Nene joined “Grand Zaiko” under the leadership of “pepe Manwaku and produced “Bbongo” another success.

He went solo in 1987 and produced the single, “Niger.” Shortly thereafter, Nene moved to Paris in 1988 where he made historical contributions to great African musicians like “Kofi Olomide (From Congo kinshasa); where he played on the “Papa Bonheur” album. Soukous Stars where he arranged and produced “Lagos Knight” album and Lala Nomotoki (From Togo) Shi Loving (From Nigeria).

He joined Papa Wemba (From Congo Kinshasa); and together produced the “For Idole” album. With Arlus Mabele (from Congo Brazzavile); they produced the “Dossirr X” album which Nene arranged. Madame (Bongo)Patience Dabani (From Gabon) Niawu (From Congo Kinshasa) Nene arranged the first album. Nai’moro (From Antilles, France) who played keyboard for the group Kassav; Nene recorded first Nai’moro CD with them.

In the year 2002, Nene moved to Stockton, California in the USA with Soukous Stars where they recorded and produced one album which was released in 2001.

In 2002, Nene and Shimita formed the group Affro Muzika.

In 2003 Nene Tchakou joined “Rowa Records” as a resident artist and producer where also writes and arranges for other “cultural” musicians.

Discography:

Soto (Sonodisc, 1996)
Cesser le Feu (Rowa, 2007)

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Ustad Shahid Parvez to perform at A World in Trance Festival in New York

Ustad Shahid Parvez

Acclaimed sitarist Ustad Shahid Parvez, one of India’s finest sitarists, will appear in a concert of classical Hindustani (North Indian) Indian music on Saturday, April 28th. the concert will take place at Roulette in Downtown Brooklyn at 8:00 p.m. The award-winning sitar maestro will be joined by tabla virtuoso Nitin Mitta.

Saturday, April 28, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue (at 3rd Avenue), Downtown Brooklyn
Box office (917) 267-0363
Information and tickets: www.robertbrowningassociates.com/ustad-shahid-parvez.html

Video:

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Artist Profiles: Les Tambours de Brazza

Les Tambours de Brazza

Conducted by Emile Biayenda, Les Tambours de Brazza works with rhythms from all over Africa, with particular emphasis on rhythms from Congo-Brazzaville, their home. There are approximately 50 different ethnic groups living in the Congo, and each of them lays claim to their own rhythms. Members of the company come from various of these ethnic groups, bringing great diversity and richness of culture to the sound of Les Tambours.

Les Tambours de Brazza – Photo by Azzedine Salah

Emile Biayenda leads the group from his seat at the trap drum kit, and freely exhorts his musicians to mix traditional rhythms with urban influences and electric bass. Formed in 1991, the group has been performing, recording, and touring ever since, although never in North America. They have released several CDs, played at major world music festivals in Europe, including Musiques Metisses in France, the Moers Jazz Festival in Germany, the Roots Festival in the Netherlands, among many others. In addition to concerts the group delivers wonderful workshops for school-age children, and adults. They have toured most of Europe, and North Africa, as well as Japan, and Hong Kong.

Discography:

Congo Drums (Playa Sound, 1996)
Ahaando. Le Griot Rap Compte (Contre-Jour, 1999)
Zangoula (Contre-Jour, 2000)
Tandala (M10, 2003)
Brazza (2008)
Sur La Route Des Caravanes (Buda Musique, 2013)

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