Tag Archives: Alfredo Rodriguez

Music for Hispanic Heritage Month 2018

Throughout September and October, the Spanish-speaking nations and Hispanic residents in the United States celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15) in the United States. Other countries celebrate the Dia de la Hispanidad (Hispanic Heritage Day).

During the monthlong Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, the United States honors the culture and traditions of U.S. residents who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean. World Music Central has put together a list of recent recordings that showcase the diversity of Hispanic music.

Old-School Revolution is an irresistible album by the Hip Spanic Allstars, a new supergroup that brings together members of iconic bands Santana, Tower of Power, Spearhead, and Los Mocosos.

The multinational band celebrates and updates the exciting music made in the 1970s where Spanish Caribbean salsa and Latin jazz met rock and African American soul and funk.

 

One of the most exciting artists out of Cuba is Eme Alfonso, a talented artist that grew up in a family of groundbreaking musicians, Grupo Sintesis. Her album discography includes Eme (Colibrí) and Voy. Eme has been releasing a series of mesmerizing videos with her latest songs, including:

 

Cuba is also a land of extraordinary pianists. This is year there has been a wave of albums by some of Cuba’s finest, who combine jazz and Cuban roots music: Alfredo Rodríguez – The Little Dream ‎(Mack Avenue MAC1130, 2018), Dayramir González – The Grand Concourse (Machat Records, 2018), and Un Día Cualquiera by Harold López-Nussa (Mack Avenue).

 

Alfredo Rodríguez – The Little Dream

 

 

Dayramir González – The Grand Concourse

 

 

Harold López-Nussa – Un Día Cualquiera

 

 

Omar Sosa and Yilian Cañizares – Aguas

Cuban pianist and composer Omar Sosa has a new album with fellow Cuban vocalist and violinist Yilian Cañizares titled Aguas, scheduled for release on OTA Records on October 5, 2018. Afro-Cuban roots meet Western classical music, and jazz.

 

Eliades Ochoa and Alejandro Almenares – Dos Gigantes de Música Cubana

The legendary Cuban guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Eliades Ochoa (of Buena Vista Social Club fame) has released a delightful instrumental album with Cuban guitarist Alejandro Almenares – Dos Gigantes de Música Cubana (Tumi Music, 2018).

One of the iconic Cuban albums of the 1990s, A toda Cuba le gusta (World Circuit) by Afro-Cuban All Stars has been remastered and reissued on vinyl.

Canada-based Cuban musicians Okan (Elizabeth Rodriguez and Magdelys Savigne) have a debut EP titled Laberinto, scheduled for release October 19, 2018. Okan mixes fusion jazz, traditional Cuban music, Mexican influences and jazz swing.

 

 

Mariachi Herencia de México – Herencia de la Tierra Mía

 

With 127 million residents, Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country. The Mexican diaspora has brought mariachi music, norteño and son jarocho to the United States. Mariachi Herencia de México, formed by students from Chicago’s Mexican-American neighborhoods has a new album titled Herencia de la Tierra Mía (Heritage of My Land).

The charming self-released album features iconic Mexican American world music artist Lila Downs, Mexican mariachi star Aida Cuevas and Mexican harp virtuoso Ivan Velasco Herencia de la Tierra Mía includes sones, passionate boleros and a delightful jarocho medley. It was produced by acclaimed Spanish producer Javier Limón, director of the Mediterranean Music Institute at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

 

Magos Herrera – Dreamers

Mexican vocalist Magos Herrera (currently based in New York) celebrates Ibero-American (the music of Spanish and Portuguese countries) culture on her new album Dreamers (Sony Music Masterworks). Magos Herrera collaborates with the string quartet Brooklyn Rider. This is not a chamber jazz album, but rather a cross-genre recording where Magos Herrera and Brooklyn Rider invited guest percussionists on flamenco and global percussion, and flamenco star Miguel Poveda.

Magos Hererera performs songs with lyrics by renowned songwriters and poets and writers, including Octavio Paz, Rubén Darío, and Federico García Lorca. It’s a fascinating production with exquisite arrangements.

 

Radio Jarocho and Zenen Zeferino – Rios de Norte y Sur

 

Son jarocho, with its captivating guitars and poetic lyrics combines the basic roots of Veracruz’s Mexican musical culture: Spanish guitars and poetry, indigenous rhythms and Afro-Caribbean influence. New York-based Radio Jarocho and acclaimed Veracruz musician Zenen Zeferino have released Rios de Norte y Sur.

 

 

Wu Man & Son de San Diego – Fingertip Carnival

A different take on son jarocho is the remarkable Fingertip Carnival, a collaboration between Chinese pipa (lute) maestra Wu Man and son jarocho ensemble Son de San Diego.

 

Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles – Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings has released the self-titled album Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles. This groundbreaking all-female ensemble has served as a role model for Hispanic women in music. This is classic spirited mariachi at its best. The album includes a 44-page booklet with notes in English and Spanish.

 

. Mexico – The Best Boleros from the Costa Chica

The highly romantic boleros are very popular across the Spanish-speaking nations. A form of rootsy guitar-based bolero has developed in Mexico’s Costa Chica region bordering the Pacific Ocean.

Mexico – The Best Boleros from the Costa Chica (ARC Music) features some of the finest acts from the region, including Pedro Torres, Fidela Peláez, Chogo Prudente, Los Tres Amuzgos, and Las Hermanas García.

 

Grupo Mono Blanco – ¡Fandango! Sones Jarochos de Veracruz por Grupo Mono Blanco

¡Fandango! Sones Jarochos de Veracruz por Grupo Mono Blanco (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2028) is the new album from one of son jarocho’s leading acts Mono Blanco, a group created in the late 1970s by Gilberto Gutierrez Silva.

 

Plena Libre – Amores en el Camino

Gary Nuñez & Plena Libre have been touring extensively with their explosive mix of Puerto Rican plen and bomba, salsa and jazz. Amores en el Camino (Love’s Journey) is their 2018 album. The album was originally scheduled for release in 2017, but it was moved to February 2018 due to Hurricane Maria and the subsequent disaster in Puerto Rico.

 

Miguel Zenón – Yo soy la Tradición

Puerto Rican saxophonist and composer Miguel Zenón has released Yo soy la Tradición, his eleventh album. Yo soy la Tradición was commissioned by the David and Reva Logan Center for the Arts and the Hyde Park Jazz Festival. It is a set of 8 chamber compositions for alto saxophone and string quartet that include Zenón and the Chicago-based Spektral Quartet.

 

Zemog El Gallo Bueno – YoYouMeTú Volume 3

Puerto Rican-Peruvian act Zemog El Gallo Bueno (Abraham Gómez-Delgado) has combined three of his releases on YoYouMeTú Volume 3. Zemog El Gallo Bueno makes an eclectic cocktail of sounds that includes cha cha ch, salsa, guaracha, rock, funk and electronics. The album will be available November 9, 2018.

 


Dengue Dengue Dengue – Semillero

Peruvian band Dengue Dengue Dengue has a new mini-LP titled Semillero released September 2018 by On The Corner Records. The 6-track recording includes a mix of electronic music with Afro-Peruvian coastal rhythms and healing chants from the Huni Kuin people of the Amazon River.

 

Susana Seivane – Fa

Galicia in northwestern Spain is a land of pipers, traditionally male. The trailblazing Susana Seivane is one of the finest bagpipe players of her generation. She has just released her fifth album titled Fa.

 

Sondeseu – Beiralua

Also from Galicia is the grand folk orchestra called SondeSeu, an orchestra featuring folk music instruments such as zanfonas (hurdy gurdies), bagpipes, flutes, drums, fiddles and vocalists. The new album Beiralua features special guests on vocals and bagpipes.

Galician experimentalist and multi-instrumentalist Mercedes Peón reconstructs tradition with a mix of electronics, rock, traditional acoustic instruments, sampled sounds, and fascinating vocal experimentation on her new album titled Deixaas.

Argentine pianist Juan Carlos Cambas has been living in Galicia since 2002. He has released “Almas en el viento / Música Argentina de raíz“. Juan Carlos Csambos has been exploring the music of countries where large numbers of Galicians emigrated to: Argentina, Cuba, Venezuela, Brazil and Uruguay.

 

Pedro H. da Silva and Daniel Binelli – Tango Fado Duo

Argentine tango and Portuguese fado come together on Tango Fado Duo (Sorel Classics). The album features Portuguese guitar virtuoso, Pedro H. da Silva and bandoneon maestro Daniel Binelli. Together, they delve into two of the most passionate musical genres in the Hispanic and Lusophone world.

 

Stu Mindeman – Woven Threads

American keyboardist Stu Mindeman collaborates with Chilean musicians on the exquisite Woven Threads, mixing jazz, Chilean music and global rhythms.

 

Aljibe – Agua, Músicas tradicionales de la Cuenca del Tajo

 

Folk music band Aljibe, from Central Spain, explores the music of the Rio Tajo (Tagus River) basin on Agua. The band presents reconstructed traditional music from Castile and other regions. The CD is housed in a beautifully-packaged hard cover 144-page book with vintage photos and lots of details about the songs selected.

 

Vigüela – A Tiempo Real – A New Take on Spanish Tradition

 

A Tiempo Real – A New Take on Spanish Tradition is a double set of Castilian folk music songs performed by the rising stars of Spanish folk music, Vigüela.

 

Chano Dominguez – Chano & Colina

Chano Dominguez started as a progressive rock keyboardist with Andalusian rock band Cai and has become one of the leading flamenco jazz pianists. His most recent album is a collaboration with Spanish jazz bassist Javier Colina: Chano & Colina (Sunnyside, 2018)

 

Marta Gómez – La alegría y el canto

 

Colombian singer-songwriter Marta Gómez released La alegría y el canto (Aluna Music), an album featuring well-known musicians from South America, Cuba and Spain.

 

Chabuco – Encuentro

 

Brazilian music is the focus of Colombian singer-songwriter Chabuco’s 2018 album Encuentro. It’s a nicely-crafted encounter between the tropical music of Colombia and Brazilian music, featuring Brazilian musicians.

 

Spanglish Fly – Ay Que Boogaloo!

 

One of the hottest musical styles in New York’s Hispanic community was bugalú (boogaloo), a hybridization of Latin Caribbean music and African American influences. New York City-based band Spanglish Fly has renovated boogaloo and released Ay Que Boogaloo! (Chaco World Music) earlier this year. This time Spanglish Fly ventured beyond boogaloo, adding bolero, New Orleans funk, swing jazz, Arabic chants, and other innovations.

 

Los Texmaniacs – Cruzando Borders

Los Texmaniacs plays the border music of Tejas (Texas), Tejano music. Their latest album Cruzando Borders (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2018) brings together Spanish, Mexican and American country music roots. Guest includes Lyle Lovett and country singer Rick Treviño.

 

Orquesta Akokán – Featuring José “Pepito” Gómez (Daptone Records) is an encounter between a big band collective of Havana’s finest musicians and musicians from New York’s Latin music scene with mouthwatering mambo as the common language.

 

Various Artists – Strunk Nad Oslavou – Strings over the Oslava River 2016

Various string instrument masters appeared live at a festival in the Czech Republic and recorded Strunk Nad Oslavou – Strings over the Oslava River 2016 (Indies Scope, 2017). The lineup included Germán López, one of the finest timple (a small Spanish guitar from the Canary Islands) players in the Canary Islands, Spain; along with Italian guitarist Antonio Forcione; Senegalese kora master Seckou Keita; and Czech mandolin virtuoso Martin Krajíček.

 

Makrú – Tu Mission

Makrú, a band from the Mission District in San Francisco combines skillfully Colombian and Caribbean music, flamenco, rock, Middle Eastern flavors and much more on – Tu Mission (Makru Music, 2018)

 

Ron Korb – World Café

Canadian flute virtuoso Ron Korb celebrates the music of Latin America and Spain on World Café, featuring Cuban and Canadian musicians with a mix of melodic jazz, tango, rumba flamenco and other influences.

 

StringShot – Blues and Latin

Paraguayan harp player Carlos Reyes collaborates with Brazilian guitarist and vocalist Badi Assad and American blues guitarist on Blues & Latin, a combination of blues, smooth jazz and South American sounds.

Books

Los Romeros: Royal Family of the Spanish Guitar

Los Romeros: Royal Family of the Spanish Guitar by Walter Aaron Clark (University of Illinois Press, 2018) is an depth look at the leading Spanish guitar family in the United States, the Romeros. The family tradition was started by Spaniard Celedonio Romero who emigrated to the United States in the 1950s.

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Artist Profiles: Alfredo Rodríguez

Alfredo Rodríguez

Composer and pianist Alfredo Rodríguez was born October 7, 1985 in Havana, Cuba.

Alfredo has a solid musical background. He began studying percussion at the age of 7 but his real passion was the piano and that’s what he finally chose. He studied at the Manuel Saumell, Amadeo Roldán conservatories and at the Higher Institute of Art of Havana.

His first major performance took place in 2006, at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival, where he was discovered by acclaimed music producer Quincy Jones who proposed to be his manager. Three years later, in 2009, after crossing the border from Mexico with the United States, Alfredo Rodríguez Jr. moved to the United States and began a new phase in his life, guided and produced by the influential Quincy Jones.

Alfredo’s debut album, Sounds of Space, produced by Jones himself, was released in 2012.

His second album, also co-produced by his mentor Quincy Jones, The Invasion Parade, came out in 2014. The Invasion Parade explores his memories of Cuba, the people and culture he left behind, and finds his new place. Guests include bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding and percussionist and vocalist Pedrito Martínez.

Discography:

Sounds of Space (Mack Avenue, 2012)
The Invasion Parade (Mack Avenue Records, 2014)
Tocororo ‎(Mack Avenue MAC1109, 2016)
The Little Dream ‎(Mack Avenue MAC1130, 2018)

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Alfredo Rodríguez’s Richly Textured Piano

Alfredo Rodríguez – The Little Dream ‎(Mack Avenue MAC1130, 2018)

The Little Dream showcases the talent of yet another Cuban piano star, Alfredo Rodríguez. This is Alfredo’s fourth album for American label Mack Avenue, produced by acclaimed producer Quincy Jones and Alfredo. It was recorded in Madrid and Los Angeles.

The format on this album is a superb trio featuring Alfredo on piano and vocals; Munir Hossn on guitar and electric bass; and Michael Olivera on drums and percussion.

The Little Dream incorporates jazz, classical, Cuban and global music influences. Despite the jazz training, Alfredo’s piano has a deeply Cuban flavor. In addition to his piano performances, he adds beautiful wordless harmony vocals.

The interaction between the elegant piano, the creative electric bass lines and exquisite percussion is deeply satisfying.

Most of the material on the album are originals by Alfredo, although there are a couple of jazzified versions of popular classics in the Hispanic world: “Vamos todos a cantar” by Teresita Hernández and the well-known bolero “Bésame mucho” by Mexican singer Consuelo Velázquez (misspelled in the booklet).

On most of the album, Alfredo uses the acoustic piano, although he also picks up the Rhodes electric piano, engaging in tasty fusion.

The Little Dream is masterfully-crafted and features the exceptionally expressive piano work of a formidable Cuban musician.

Buy The Little Dream in Europe

Buy The Little Dream in the rest of the world

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Alfredo Rodriguez and Ibeyi’s Sabanas Blancas

Alfredo Rodriguez – Tocororo

Crowding around an LP and contemplating Jazz singing are a thing of the past for today’s youth. Those of us with a passion for Jazz are for the most part left to asking ourselves, as if in honor of a well-known cannon of Jazz vocals that includes Johnny Hartman’s songs with John Coltrane and Nina Simone’s vocals, what a renewed version of the art form would be like.

Ever so often, a new album of Jazz vocals promises a dozen of so songs that will swoon and sometimes do. Songs like that of Gregory Porter’s Blue Note albums are great examples. The problem is always that these new Jazz songs, like most old Jazz vocalist songs, do not seem to be in tune with the synths and sounds of avant-garde Jazz music and most of us who are young of age only associate great Jazz with avant-garde Jazz expression. The thing is that the young of today like John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and even Pharaoh Sanders when it comes to Jazz. Just listen to Kamasi Washington’s album The Epic, a popular Jazz album amongst young listeners, to tune into the phenomenon. Youngsters Ibeyi and Alfredo Rodriguez may have found the right formula on Rodriguez’s new album Tocororo (2016) with the song Sábanas Blancas.

Ibeyi and Alfredo Rodriguez team up for two songs on Tocororo: Yemaya and Sabanas Blancas. Both feature poignant piano playing. Yemaya is a much more lush song than is Sabanas Blancas. Yemaya does not feature any vocals and all we hear is a choir chime along to Yemaya. Sabanas Blancas, on the other hand, is a minimalist composition throughout. The twins of Ibeyi take turns singing a hymn to the Habana, the city that Alejo Carpentier called “the city of pillars” and that is well known for its allure.

It breaks away from its Jazz singing past. What’s great is that Sábanas Blancas does sound like a grand narrative about Habana. Despite it being a hymn to Habana, its instrumentation often abruptly changes trudging its listener along into feeling others sounds. Sábanas Blancas is a fast paced Jazz song and that’s the beauty of it: it understands the senses that a flood of pop music has given birth to and the need to dance away one’s burdens. “Habana / ..” we hear again and again, as if the dawn of a new magnificence.

We can only hope that, like Marcel Duschamp’s Dada toilet or Baudelaire’s modernist poetry, that this marks the beginning of a new tendency in Jazz singing. The vocals of youngsters such as Ibeyi are ripe for Jazz and there are plenty of young composers and composers whose musics’ ethos will match youthful vocals. It’s come time to again sit in small venues and listen to quartets or sextets play along to an unforgettable voice; to Jazz.

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