Tag Archives: Latin jazz

Artist Profiles: Guillermo Barrón Ríos

Guillermo Barrón Ríos

Mexican percussionist Guillermo Barrón Ríos has developed his style with different ensembles that cover a wide range of musical genres such as classical music, rock, pop, flamenco, Mexican music, salsa and Latin jazz, among others. He has performed with many international artists: José Feliciano, Luisito Quintero, Charlie Sepúlveda, among others.

Barrón has one Latin jazz musical production under his belt, “¿Cuál es la prisa?” (What’s the rush?), that includes original compositions and arrangements, featuring his main musical influences: Latin-American music, jazz and flamenco. Additionally, he has participated in a great selection of musical recordings, sharing credits with Gilberto Santa Rosa, among many others.

He currently lives in New York City, where he collaborates with different musical projects.

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Artist Profiles: Roberto Fonseca

Roberto Fonseca

Multi-instrumentalist and composer Roberto Fonseca was born on March 29, 1975 in Havana, Cuba. He made his debut at the Havana International Jazz Festival in 1990 when he was 15.

Fonseca also played with Buena Vista Social Club, joining great the cast of stars such as Ibrahim Ferrer, Orlando ‘Cachaíto’ López, Rubén González, Guajiro Mirabal and Manuel Galbán and also recorded and toured with another of its stars, Omara Portuondo.

Throughout his career, Roberto Fonseca has collaborated with Mayra Andrade, Regina Carter, Anat Cohen, Carlinhos Brown, Vicente Amigo, Kepa Junkera, Snarky Puppy, Michael Brecker, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Nils Petter Molvær; performing in Palais des Congrès (París), Royal Albert Hall (London), Beacon Theatre (New York), Sydney Opera House (Australia), Frankfurt Alter Oper (Frankfurt), Jazz in Marciac, Festival de Jazz de Montreaux, the New York City Center Hall, Festival Jazz de Tokyo. He was also co-producer along with British Dj Gilles Peterson of Havana Cultura New Cuban Sound Vol I and II.

Discography:

Tiene Que Ver ‎(Egrem, 1999)
No Limit ‎(JVC, 2001)
Temperamento (Yemayá, 2007)
Zamazu (Enja Records, 2007)
Akokan (Enja Records, 2009)
Live In Marciac ‎(Enja Records, 2010)
Yo (Concord Jazz/Jazz Village, 2012)
At Home – Live In Marciac (Jazz Village, 2015)
ABUC (Impulse!, 2016)

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Magela Herrera, Rising Latin Jazz Flutist

Magela Herrera – Explicaciones

Magela Herrera – Explicaciones (Brontosaurus, 2019)

Explicaciones (Explanations) is the new solo album from Cuban composer and skilled flute player Magela Herrera. Currently based in Miami, Magela Herrera performs music rooted in American jazz and Cuban rhythms and melodies. She has a charming, highly expressive style as a flutist.

The musicians on Explicaciones are some of Miami’s finest jazz players: Tal Cohen on piano; Nestor del Prado on bass; Dion Keith Kerr on bass; Hilario Bell on drums; David Chiverton on drums; Greg Diamond on guitar; Jean Caze on trumpet; and Philbert Armenteros on batá drums.

Although most of the tracks are instrumentals highlighting the flute, Magela also sings on a couple of tracks. She includes the Spanish language romantic classic “Bésame Mucho” (“Kiss me a lot”), written in 1940 by Mexican songwriter Consuelo Velázquez and popularized by Los Panchos.

Explicaciones is a delightfully-crafted album showcasing the talent of a young composer and superb instrumentalist.

Buy the CD from CD Baby or the digital download from Amazon.

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Artist Profiles: Willie Rosario

Willie Rosario – Photo by Gerald López Cepero

Fernando Luis Rosario Marin was born in Coamo, Puerto Rico, on May 6th, 1930. He studied guitar bass, and saxophone encouraged by his mother. His family moved to New York when he was 16 years old. Willie Rosario studied journalism and public relations, but music soon became his profession.

Willie Rosario started his band in an era where there was fierce competition amongst the revered bands of the late 1950’s such as Pérez Prado, Tito Puente, Tito Rodríguez, Jose Curbelo, Orlando Marín, Joe Cuba, Alfredito, Cesar Concepción, Moncho Lena, Cortijo y su Combo, Vicentico Valdez, and last but not least, the venerable and worshipful, Machito and his Afrocubans.

The environment in which Willie Rosario developed as a bandleader instilled in him a sense of discipline and professionalism which he has maintained to this day, but the characteristic most associated with Willie Rosario is the Swing or solid rhythm section which is geared to the dancer, the rhythm section is complemented by a unique brass section comprised of four trumpets and a baritone sax, the only salsa band with this type of brass section.

The list of hits by the Willie Rosario is as impressive as the names of his well-known singers: De barrio obrero a la quince”, Chango Ta veni”, Lluvia”, Busca el Ritmo”, Amor Clasificado”, “Botaron la pelota”, “Atizame el fogon”, “El Apartamento” and many others. Puerto Rico Caribbean

Discography

El Bravo Soy Yo! (1963)
Fabuloso y Fantástico (1966)
Latin Jazz a Go-Go-Go (1967)
Two Too Much (1967)
Haida Huo (1968)
Boogaloo y Guaguancó (1968)
El Bravo de Siempre (1969)
De Donde Nace el Ritmo (Inca Records, 1971)
Más Ritmo (Inca Records, 1972)
Infinito (Inca Records, 1973)
Otra Vez (Inca Records, 1975)
Gracias Mundo (Inca Records, 1977)
From the Depth of My Brain (Top Hits, 1978)
El Rey del Ritmo! (Top Hits, 1979)
El de a 20 de Willie (Top Hits, 1980)
The Portrait of a Salsa Man (Top Hits, 1981)
Atízame el Fogón (Top Hits, 1982)
The Salsa Machine (Top Hits, 1983)
Nuevos Horizontes ( Bronco, 1984)
Afincando ( Bronco, 1985)
Nueva Cosecha ( Bronco, 1986)
A Man of Music ( Bronco, 1987)
The Salsa Legend ( Bronco, 1988)
Unique ( Bronco, 1989)
Viva Rosario! ( Bronco, 1990)
The Roaring Fifties ( Bronco, 1991)
Tradición Clásica (NRT, 1993)
¡Sorpresas! (Tiffany Records, 1995)
Back to the Future (HMS Records, 1999)
La Banda Que Deleita (Gennara Records, 2006)
Evidencia (Gennara Records, 2016)

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Artist Profiles: William Cepeda

William Cepeda – Photo by Susanne Moss

William Cepeda was born in Loiza, a small coastal town in Puerto Rico renowned for its adherence to West African-derived customs and culture. Cepeda grew up immersed in the dynamic traditions of bomba and plena, the island’s two most distinctive folkloric styles.

In his evolution as a musician, Cepeda has thoroughly explored both contemporary Latin and jazz styles, working with and gaining the respect of such famed leaders as Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Paquito D’Rivera, David Murray, Donald Byrd, Slide Hampton and Lester and Joseph Bowie.

His work with the D’Rivera-led United Nation Orchestra further exposed jazz fans around the world to a brawny, technically brilliant trombone style that places him in the vanguard of contemporary stylists on this most demanding of instruments.

My Roots & Beyond features Cepeda in the company of such celebrated fellow Puerto Ricans as percussionist Bobby Sanabria, bassist John Benítez, both noted for their Latin jazz abilities and cuatro player extraordinaire Yomo Toro, an early exponent of the island’s jíbaro (countryside) music and a legendary figure from the heyday of salsa in the seventies. .

“Traditional Puerto Rican music isn’t heard that much outside of the island and it’s a shame. We have a very strong music. By using a variety of instruments and the wealth of jazz resources, I have brought this rich tradition to another level, to a wider audience but also to a new level of feeling, more in line with the experience of today. I’m putting a little fire into it, with the result, I hope, of offering a dynamic and beautiful music for many, many people to enjoy.”

Discography:

My Roots And Beyond (Blue Jackel Entertainment, 1998)
Bombazo – Grupo Afro Boricua (Blue Jackel Entertainment, 1998)
Expadiendo Raices – Branching Out (Blue Jackel Entertainment, 2000)
Unity (Casabe, 2007)
Live at Montreux Jazz Festival (Casabe, 2007)
Ando Vacilando (Casabe, 2008)

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Artist Profiles: Rebeca Mauleón

Rebeca Mauleón

Rebeca Mauleón was born April 16, 1962 in Santa Monica, California. Rebeca Mauleón has been at the forefront of Latin and American world music for over 25 years. A prolific pianist, composer, arranger as well as author and educator, Mauleón has performed with luminaries in the Latin, Pop and World music scenes, including Carlos Santana, Mickey Hart, Tito Puente, Steve Winwood, Israel “Cachao” Lopez, Giovanni Hidalgo, Carlos Patato Valdez, Joe Henderson and others.

Her performing and arranging credits include Tito Puente (Goza Mi Timbal), Steve Winwood (Junction 7) and Carlos Patato Valdez (Ritmo y Candela). In the 90s she recorded and toured with Mickey Hart’s Planet Drum as its Musical Director; highlights include Woodstock ’99, the Conan O’Brien show, and the Regis and Kathy Lee Show.

As a producer, Mauleón’s first solo release, Round Trip, garnered international critical acclaim, earning Top 10 status on the Latin Beat Hit Parade for seven consecutive months, including number one.

As the leader of her own ensemble, Rebeca has appeared at numerous renowned music festivals, including the Kennedy Center’s “Women in Jazz” festival in 1999, the Monterey Jazz Festival, and San Francisco and San Jose Jazz Festivals.

In 2001, she was the recipient of the prestigious Meet The Composer New Residencies Award, for a three-year residency at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Rebeca is also much in-demand as a teacher and clinician throughout the U.S. and Europe, specializing in Latin music performance and history, combining hands-on master classes with high-energy performances by her ensemble. She is the author of several texts on Latin music technique (all published through Sher Music). She has also published articles for top industry magazines including Keyboard. Grammy Gateway, Modern Drummer, Mix en Español. and Bass Player.

Rebeca is a tenured professor of Latin American Music at City College of San Francisco, a guest lecturer at U.C. Berkeley, and sits on the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Jazz Festival.

Books:

The Salsa Guidebook for Piano & Ensemble
101 Montunos

Discography:

Round Trip (Bembe Records, 1999)
Latin Fire (Rumbeca Music, 2004)
Descarga en California (Universal, 2006)

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Artist Profiles: Nestor Torres

Nestor Torres

Nestor Torres was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, in 1957. He took flute lessons at age 12 and began formal studies at the Escuela Libre de Música, eventually attending Puerto Rico’s Inter-American University. At 18, he moved to New York with his family. “That’s where I first developed my improvisational skills as a charanga (Cuban dance music) flutist,” he says. “In charanga, the flutist improvises a great deal – the focus of his solos are to make people dance. Even when I play today, my approach is still very rhythmic and melodic.”

Torres went on to study both jazz and classical music at the Mannes School of Music in New York and the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, among other places.

He moved to Miami in 1981, and signed with PolyGram, where he released Morning Ride in 1989. His major label debut climbed quickly to the top of the Billboard Contemporary Jazz charts and soon brought him widespread acclaim. Tragedy struck a year later when an accident in a boat race left him with eighteen fractured ribs, two broken clavicles and a collapsed lung. His record company dropped him, he and his wife divorced, and his home was nearly repossessed.

A longtime practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism – a branch of Buddhism with roots in 13th-century Japan – Torres says the ordeal “taught me that no matter how difficult and hopeless my situation seemed, my life was fine. It was not about ‘Why me?’ but rather ‘Okay, this is what I must deal with and overcome now…so let’s go!'”

An outpouring of sympathy followed from the South Florida community, including a benefit concert staged by a local radio station and individuals who stepped forward with money to save Torres’ home. “An appreciation for life and a realization that we are all interconnected is the greatest legacy of that experience,” he says. “I also learned firsthand about the value of the people behind the scenes – the nurses, my family and friends, and especially my fans. Were it not for them, I would not have been able to overcome this difficult situation.”

Torres began the long recovery process and released Dance of the Phoenix in 1990. In 1994, he recorded Burning Whispers for Sony. His Latin-jazz composition ” Luna Latina” was nominated in 2000 for a Latin Grammy. A year later, he won a Latin Grammy for This Side of Paradise. “Of course it was a great honor and privilege to win the Grammy,” Torres reflects. “That being said, the fact that I was to receive it on 9/11 gave my work and my music a stronger sense of mission and purpose. Terrorism and violence come from ignorance, anger, arrogance and hopelessness. Music and culture inspire and empower; they soothe the human heart and enlighten the spirit. I have made it my prime point to create music and live my life as an artist and a human being in a way that does just that.”

Mi Alma Latina: My Latin Soul, a compilation of Latin standards was released in 2002. Torres’ Heads Up debut, Sin Palabras (Without Words), released in March 2004, features a re-working of the Latin classic “Contigo Aprendo,” the Alejandro Sanz hit “Regálame La Silla Donde Te Esperé,” and nine original tunes. In addition to Torres’ fine musicianship, the album features a number of talented producers, including James Lloyd (from Pieces of a Dream) on seven tracks, Carlo Pennisi from Miami and Jimmy Haslip (of Yellowjackets).

Carlo has a very fresh sound and a European sensitivity that appeals to me a great deal,” Torres says. “Jimmy, Danny and Baby Boy are a unique writing team with an impressive and impeccable pop music approach. James Lloyd is a master. His work with Pieces of a Dream has consistently been on top of the charts. Plus, he’s a great producer and a lot fun to be around.”

Torres has worked with everyone from Tito Puente to Gloria Estefan and many contemporary jazz greats. He still performs at benefit concerts all over the world, but especially in his adopted hometown of Miami. Recently, he returned to the Escuela Libre de Música in Puerto Rico as a judge at their first juried music competition. And he still gives master classes to students.

These types of activities are wonderfully rewarding and fulfilling,” Torres says. “I enjoy people, I enjoy serving and consider it a blessing to be able to make a difference.”

Discography:

Puro Sabor (Polydor, 1978)
Morning Ride (Verve Forecast, 1989)
Dance Of The Phoenix (Verve Forecast, 1991)
Burning Whispers (Sony Latin Jazz, 1994)
Talk To Me… (Sony Discos, 1996)
Treasures of Heart (Shanachie, 1999)
This Side Of Paradise (Shanachie, 2001)
Mi Alma Latina – My Latin Soul (Shanachie, 2002)
Charanga Caliente (En Descarga) (Envidia, 2003)
Sin Palabras – Without Words (Heads Up International, 2004)
Dances, Prayers, & Meditations For Peace (Heads Up International, 2006)
Nouveau Latino (Diamond Light Records, 2008)
Del Caribe, Soy! Latin American Flute Music (Naxos, 2017)
Jazz Flute Traditions (Alfi, 2017)

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Eddie Palmieri’s Loving Tribute to Iraida Palmieri

Eddie Palmieri – Mi Luz Mayor (Uprising Music/Ropeadope, 2018)

Mi Luz Mayor (My Greater Light) is dedicated to Iraida, Eddie Palmieri’s late wife, who was the love of his life. The legendary Latin jazz pianist, composer, arranger and band leader selected the music that Palmieri and his wife relished in their youth. The album features musical pieces by various composers and originals by Palmieri.

“Because this music is in her honor, everything from start to finish had to be of the highest caliber and I am proud to say that it is just that,” says Palmieri about Mi Luz Mayor.

Although Eddie Palmieri is well-known as a Latin jazz composer and performer, his music incorporates a rich variety of influences on salsa, Colombian music, Afro-Latin music, Colombian cumbia, rock, Puerto Rican rural music, mambo and romantic boleros.

The list of musicians who participated in Mi Luz Mayor is impressive. In addition to his regular band, Eddie Palmieri invited some of the finest musicians and vocalists in the Latin jazz and salsa scene, hailing from the US, Puerto Rico and Cuba.

Three special guests appear on Mi Luz Mayor, Puerto Rican salsa and bolero star Gilberto Santa Rosa on vocals; famed Puerto Rican-American salsa singer Hermán Olivera; and the fabulous Carlos Santana on electric guitar, injecting a remarkable solo on Mr. Congo, which makes this piece sound like top of the line Cuban timba.

Eddie Palmieri

The lineup on Mi Luz Mayor includes Eddie Palmieri on piano; Luques Curtis on bass; Karl Perazzo on timbales; Camilo Molina on timbales, drums and itótele; Pequeño Johnny Rivero on congas; Anthony Carrillo on bongos, cowbell and iyá; Nelson González on tres; Gabriel Lugo on okónkolo; Jerry Medina on backing vocals ; Juan Pablo Díaz on backing vocals; Brian Lynch on trumpet; Jonathan Powell on trumpet; John Walsh on trumpet; Pete Nater on trumpet; Chris Rogers on trumpet; Conrad Herwig on trombone; Jimmy Bosch on trombone; Joe Fiedler on trombone; Chris Washburne on trombone; Doug Beavers on trombone; Tokinori Kajiwara on trombone; Louis Fouché on alto saxophone; Yosvany Terry on alto saxophone; Ralph Moore on alto saxophone; Ivan Renta on tenor saxophone; Craig Handy on tenor saxophone; Jeremy Powell on tenor saxophone; Gary Smulyan on baritone saxophone; and Ronnie Cuber on baritone saxophone.

Special guests: Giberto Santa Rosa on lead and backing vocals; Carlos Santana on electric guitar; and Hermán Olivera on lead vocals.

Mi Luz Mayor features exceptionally good, timelessly crafted Latin big band songs by one of the brightest Latin Jazz artists of our time.

Buy the Mi Luz Mayor CD and download in Europe

Buy Mi Luz Mayor digital download in North America

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French Horn Exotica

Ken Wiley – Cuerno Exotica (Krug Park Music, 2018)

French horn virtuoso Ken Wiley showcases the versatility of the French on Cuerno Exotica (cuerno means horn in Spanish).

Cuerno Exotica presents original pieces inspired by jazz, mambo, Cuban, Spanish and Brazilian music as well as a re-imagined Latin jazz version of Ravel’s famed bolero and classics by Cal Tjader and McCoy Tyner.

Ken Wiley’s extraordinary French horn is joined by acoustic guitarist Mark Leggett and flutist Dan Higgins together with a superb rhythm section rhythm featuring bassist Rene Camacho, drummer Bernie Dresel, and Luis Conte and Kevin Ricard on Latin percussion.

Other guests include the Bolero Horns (Gary Grant, Larry Hall, Steve Holtman, Dan Higgins) and Dave Loeb on piano.

Cuerno Exotica is a deeply satisfying, updated 21st century version of the classic exotica albums of the 1960s, highlighting the sound of the French horn.

Buy Cuerno Exotica

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Una Noche Con Rubén Blades, An Exquisitely-Crafted Mix of Salsa and Jazz Swing

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis featuring Rubén Blades – Una Noche Con Rubén Blades (Blue Engine Records, 2018)

Salsa and jazz swing come together in a superb collaboration between the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and salsa star Rubén Blades, plus additional musicians on Afro-Cuban percussion and backing vocals.

Rubén Blades demonstrates why he’s been one of the top salsa singers for years. Not surprisingly, he also shows great talent as a jazz crooner. The repertoire on the album combines various Rubén Blades salsa hits such as “Pedro Navaja,” “Patria,” and “El Cantante,”along with jazz standards like “Too Close for Comfort” and “Begin the Beguine.”

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in this occasion was led by bassist Carlos Henriquez, one of the rising stars of Latin jazz. He grew up listening to Rubén Blades. “His albums, and the sound and the warmth they generated, filled my family’s apartment at 146th and Brook Avenue in the Bronx, and his music was one of my earliest influences.”

Although Rubén Blades stands out throughout the album, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s musicians contribute remarkable solos on trumpet, trombone, flute, piano and percussion.

The musicians on the album include:

Reeds: Sherman Irby on alto saxophone and soprano saxophones; Ted Nash on alto saxophone, flute, piccolo; Victor Goines on tenor and soprano saxophones, clarinet; Walter Blanding on tenor saxophone; and Paul Nedzela on baritone saxophone.

Trumpets: Ryan Kisor, Kenny Rampton, Marcus Printup, and Wynton Marsalis.

Trombones: Vincent Gardner, Chris Crenshaw and Elliot Mason.

Rhythm Section: Dan Nimmer on piano; Carlos Henriquez on bass; and Ali Jackson on drums.

Lead vocals and maracas: Rubén Blades.

Special Guests: Eddie Rosado on backing vocals; Bobby Allende on congas, backing vocals; Marc Quiñones on timbales, backing vocals; Carlos Padron on bongos, cowbell; and Seneca Black on trumpet.

Buy Una Noche Con Rubén Blades

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