Dance of Time by celebrated Brazilian pianist and vocalist Eliane Elias won the Best Latin Jazz/Jazz award at 18th Latin Grammy Awards.
The award-winning album includes high profile guests such as Amilton Godoy on piano, João Bosco and Toquinho on vocals and guitars, Randy Brecker on trumpet, Mike Mainieri on vibraphone and Mark Kibble (Take 6) on vocals.
Spain Forever, the most recent collaboration between Dominican jazz piano master Michel Camilo and legendary flamenco guitarist Tomatito won the Best Instrumental Album at the 18th Latin Grammy Awards.
The album includes an original composition by Camilo and recreations of classics by Egberto Gismonti, Charlie Haden, Astor Piazzola, Erik Satie, Ennio Morricone, Django Reindhart, Luiz Bonfá and Chick Corea.
Rebeca Mauleon is a prolific pianist composer arranger as well as author and educator. She has performed with acclaimed luminaries Latin, rock, pop and world music artists, including Carlos Santana, Mickey Hart, Tito Puente, Steve Winwood, Israel “Cachao” López, Giovanni Hidalgo, Carlos Patato Valdez, Joe Henderson and others.
Her performing and arranging credits include Tito Puente (Goza Mi Timbal), Steve Winwood (Junction Seven), and Carlos Patato Valdez (Ritmo y Candela). In the 1990s 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, Mauleon’s first solo release Round Trip garnered international critical acclaim. 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, 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.
Poncho Sanchez was born in Laredo, Texas. He was the youngest of 11 children. Poncho grew up in Norwalk, California and remembers hearing Afro-Cuban music while growing up. “As a kid in third or fourth grade I would hear my sisters dancing while listening to Machito, Tito Puente, Cal Tjader and various bands from Cuba while my brothers listened to doo-wop music and early rhythm and blues.”
While in sixth grade, Sanchez bought a fifty- cent guitar in hopes of joining an r&b band that rehearsed across the street from his home. Although he practiced quite a bit when he showed up for an audition he knew immediately that he did not stand a chance. “But it turned out that they needed a singer and although I had never sung I gave it a try and became the lead vocalist in that band for five years. Then when I was in high school the first chance I had to get behind a set of conga drums I hit them and it felt quite natural.” Soon Sanchez had saved up money from his singing jobs and was practicing congas as much as possible in his garage playing to Machito, Tito Puente and Cal Tjader records.
Sanchez’s big break occurred in 1975 when after a period of struggle he had an opportunity to play with his idol vibraphonist Cal Tjader. “I found out later that Cal’s conga player was planning on leaving soon and he was letting a lot of people sit in with him. I played one number with Cal, he asked if I could play the rest of the set with him and a week later he asked if I could join him for a week, starting New Year’s Eve at the Coconut Grove opposite Carmen McRae!.” Sanchez would be a major part of Tjader’s band for the next seven years an association that lasted until the vibraphonist’s death.
Poncho Sanchez first formed his own group in 1980, leading his ensemble during Tjader’s vacation periods and recording two albums for Discovery. Shortly before his death, Tjader recommended to Concord founder Carl Jefferson that he sign Sanchez to his Concord Picante label (a subsidiary originally started to document Tjader’s music). Poncho recorded numerous albums for Concord and won a Grammy Award for 1999’s Latin Soul.
“My band and I really do love Latin jazz. We played this music before it was popular and I think we’ve played a part in helping it to become popular again. Our main goal is always to keep Latin jazz alive growing and moving while being authentic to the music that we love. I’m proud to say that we have stuck to the basic fundamentals and the roots which are very important to us. And as I always say in clinics this music is not just for Latino people. It was born in the United States and it is American music. It is for everybody!”
Salsa Picante (1980)
Straight Ahead (1980)
Baila Mi Gente (Concord Records, CCD-471-2 1982)
Bien Sabroso (1983)
El Conguero (1985)
Papa Gato (1986)
La Familia (1988)
Chile Con Soul (1989)
A Night At Kimball’s East (199)
El Mejor (1992)
Para Todos (Concord Records CCD-4600-2 1993) Soul Sauce (Concord Records CCD-4662-2 1995) Conga Blue (Concord Records CCD-4726-2 1995)
Freedom Sound (Concord Records CCD-4778-2 1997)
Afro-Cuban Fantasy (Concord Records CCD-4847-2 1998) Latin Soul (Concord Records, CCD-4863-2 1999)
Poncho Sanchez – The Concord Jazz Heritage Series (2000)
Soul Of The Conga (Concord Records, CCD-4894, 2000)
Latin Spirits (2001)
Ultimate Latin Dance Party (2002)
Instant Party: Poncho Sanchez (2004)
Poncho at Montreux (2004) Out of Sight! (2004)
Do It! (2005)
Raise Your Hand (2007) Psychedelic Blues (Concord Picante 2009) Chano y Dizzy! (Concord Picante, 2011) Live in Hollywood (Concord Picante 2012)
Percussionist Pete Escovedo was born July 13, 1935 in Pittsburg California. As a young boy he would sit on the steps of nightclubs and watch musicians play. Music became his conduit. When he was 15 years old he began to sketch and paint on wood or cardboard. Anything he could get his hands on he would start to draw.
His first musical instrument in school was the saxophone. It didn’t take long to discover that this was definitely not the right instrument for him. He decided to try another instrument, bongos. The first bongos set was made out of coffee cans and tape and he painted it himself. He was determined to play.
His brothers Coke and Phil joined Pete and formed The Escovedo Brothers Latin Jazz Sextet. They played all over town carrying their own instruments on the bus to get to their next gig and earn their $5. The sextet played in famous places like the Matador Jazz Workshop The Tropics and Basin St. West. The three brothers stayed together. After their late night gigs they would get something to eat and talk about music traveling and being famous one day. Music was everything to them it was their life.
Pete and Coke went on tour with guitarist Carlos Santana. Pete toured with Santana for three years performing internationally and playing on the albums Moonflower Oneness and Inner Secrets. To have the amazing opportunity to play percussion with Santana was like a dream he would never forget but something in his soul was still struggling. Pete’s vision grew bigger and he needed to make a name for himself and for the music that kept playing in his mind. He finally decided that it was time to leave.
In the 1970s Pete and Coke Escovedo founded the band Azteca and recorded two albums for Columbia the self-titled album Azteca and Pyramid Of The Moon. They made a name for themselves and accomplished their dream.
From the 1970s until now Pete has performed and toured with many admired artists such as Herbie Hancock Mongo Santamaria Bobby McFerrin Cal Tjader Woody Herman Stephen Stills Billy Cobham Anita Baker George Duke Boz Scaggs Andy Narell Al Jarreau Ray Obiedo Dionne Warwick Marlena Shaw Barry White Angela Bofill Arturo Sandoval Poncho Sanchez Chick Corea Dave Valentine Najee Gerald Albright Prince and Tito Puente.
Pete Escovedo and his Latin Jazz Orchestra play a mix of smooth jazz, Salsa, Latin jazz and contemporary music. He has recorded several acclaimed solo albums, two recordings with his daughter Sheila E. and the Latina Familia live album with Sheila and Puente.
Pete has continued to pain since the age of 15. Over the years he has created an impressive body of art work. All of his paintings and drawings consist of oils acrylics latex enamels pencil and crayons.
His album Live from Stern Grove Festival includes daughter Sheila E., Dave Koz, Ray Obiedo and Arturo Sandoval.
Azteca, with Azteca (Columbia, 1972) Pyramid of The Moon, with Azteca (Columbia, 1973)
Solo Two (Fantasy Records, 1977)
Happy Together (Fantasy Records, 1978)
Island (EsGo/Fantasy, 1982)
Yesterday’s Memories: Tomorrow’s Dreams (Concord Crossover, 1985)
Mister E (Concord Crossover, 1987)
Flying South (Concord Picante, 1995)
E Street (Concord Jazz, 1997) E Music (Concord Jazz, 2000)
Whatcha Gonna Do (Concord Jazz, 2001) Live (Concord Jazz, 2003)
From the Ruins with Azteca (Inakustic Gmbh, 2008) Live from Stern Grove Festival (Concord Picante/Stiletto Flats Inc, 2013)
Little Johnny Rivero was born in New York City to Puerto Rican parents. As a young boy he was drawn to the sounds and rhythms of the conga players from Jefferson Park and Randall’s Island Park. Little Johnny began practicing percussion at age ten and played in the school band. Soon after he took dance lessons and performed on stage with the best bands of the era at such famous venues as the Manhattan Center the Colgate Garden and the Copacabana.
At age fourteen Little Johnny joined Orchestra Colon the youngest Latin band inNew York City and recorded two albums with them. In 1973 he moved to Puerto Rico with his parents and joined La Sonora Ponceña in 1974. After playing bongos with them for a year and a half he switched to congas which rekindled the love affair he had begun with the instrument as a small child. Little Johnny attributes the rhythms and professional conduct he learned from Quique Lucca and his son Papo Lucca at this time as the qualities that have made him what he is today.
During the sixteen years Little Johnny played with the La Sonora Ponceña he traveled the world and made eighteen highly respected Latin albums with them. Little Johnny’s other credits include work with Bobby Valentin, Celia Cruz, Eddie Palmieri, Dave Valentin, Tito Puente, Lucecita Benitez and numerous other artists. He also performed with the RMM All-Stars Band directed by Sergio George, Bebo Valdes and David Murray.
He is currently the co-leader of Alfredo de la Fe Orquesta. He has recorded with such producers as Cuto Soto Ramon Sanchez Cuco Peña and many others. In May 1997 Little Johnny shared the stage with his inspiration and idol Jose Mangual. Little Johnny has traveled the world with the winner of eight Grammy awards Eddie Palmieri. In addition Johnny continues to perform with many of the biggest and most respected acts in Latin music.
Johnny’s first solo effort Pasos Gigantes was very well-received by critics and music fans alike. Johnny also wrote and produced every song on his CD showcasing his arranging and playing abilities.
Rubén Blades – Salsa Big Band (Rubén Blades Producciones, 2017)
Rubén Blades, one of the undisputed masters of salsa music, has released his second album recorded with the formidable Roberto Delgado & Orquesta. As the album title indicates, this recording is a tribute to the 1950s jazz and Latin jazz big bands, many of which were influenced by Cuban music big bands.
There is plenty of well-deserved Panamanian pride in this album. Rubén Blades hails from Panama and Roberto Delgado & Orquesta are Panamanian as well and the album was recorded in Panama. The partnership between Rubén Blades and superb arranger and big band leader Roberto Delgado delivers a set of outstanding songs where you’ll find the best of salsa and Latin jazz, highlighting Rubén’s unique vocals and masterful songwriting along with a large combo of talented instrumentalists.
The lineup on Salsa Big Band includes Rubén Blades on lead and backing vocals; Roberto Delgado on baby bass, electric bass, acoustic bass and backing vocals; Juan Berna on piano; Marcos Barraza on congas; Carlos Pérez-Bidó on timbales; Raúl “Toto” Rivera on bongo, bell, güiros and maracas; Ademir Berrocal on congas, timbales, bongo and bell; Juan Carlos “Wichy” López on trumpets; Alejandro “Chichisín” Castillo on trumpets and trombones; Francisco Delvecchio on trombone; Avenicio “Pin” Núñez on trombone; Carlos Ubarte on soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophone; Luis Enrique Becerra on keyboards.
Guests: Ricky Rodriguez on piano; Juan Carlos De León on piano; Robinson Fereira on piano; and Pablo Governatori on drums.
Salsa Big Band demonstrates that Rubén Blades is still at the top of the salsa world; a candidate for one of the best albums of the year.
Eddie Palmieri’s musical career spans several decades as a bandleader of salsa and Latin jazz orchestras. His discography includes over 30 albums and various Grammy Awards.
Born in Spanish Harlem (New York city) in 1936, Palmieri began piano studies at an early age, as did his celebrated older brother, the late salsa legend and pianist Charlie Palmieri. For Hispanic New Yorkers of Eddie’s generation, music was a vehicle out of the barrio. At age 11, he made his classical debut at Carnegie Hall, a venue as far from the Bronx as he could imagine. Possessed by a desire to play the drums, Palmieri joined his uncle’s orchestra at age 13, where he played the timbales. Says Palmieri, “By 15, it was good-bye timbales’ and back to the piano until this day. I’m a frustrated percussionist, so I take it out on the piano.”
He began his professional career as a pianist in the early 1950s with Eddie Forrester’s Orchestra. In 1955 he joined Johnny Segui’s band. He spent a year with the Tito Rodriguez Orchestra before forming his own band, the legendary Conjunto La Perfecta in 1961. La Perfecta featured a trombone section (led by the late Barry Rogers) in place of trumpets, something that had been rarely done in Latin music, and which demonstrated the early stages of Palmieri’s unconventional means of orchestration. They were known as “the band with the crazy roaring elephants” for the configuration of two trombones, flute, percussion, bass and vocalist. With an infectious and soaring sound, Palmieri’s band soon joined the ranks of Machito, Tito Rodriguez, and the other major Latin orchestras of the day.
Palmieri’s influences include not only his older brother Charlie but Jesus Lopez, Chapotin, Lili Martinez and other Cuban players of the 1940s and jazz legends Art Tatum, Bobby Timmons, Bill Evans, Horace Silver, Bud Powell, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis. Equally important were influences derived from Palmieri’s curiosity and incessant search to unearth his family’s roots and seek out the origins of the music that profoundly inspired him.
“In Cuba, there was a development and crystallization of rhythmical patterns that have excited people for years,” said Palmieri. “Cuban music provides the fundamental from which I never move. Whatever has to be built must be built from there. It’s that cross-cultural effect that makes magnificent music.” His solid interpretation of Afro-Caribbean music and its confluence with jazz is evident in Eddie Palmieri’s astute arranging skills, which assemble those components in dramatic and compelling compositions.
His accomplishments have taken him through Europe, Japan and Latin America, showcasing his assemblage of seasoned musicians and kaleidoscope of musical styles. He served as a consultant to Paul Simon on his 1990 release Rhythm of the Saints and in 1993 was appointed to the board of governors of the New York chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Science. As a member of the New York chapter, Palmieri was instrumental in creating a new category for Latin Jazz in 1995.
On his first salsa album in eleven years, El Rumbero del Piano, Palmieri returned to his roots as leader of one of Latin music’s most phenomenal dance bands. Accompanied by the finest musicians of New York and Puerto Rico, Palmieri presented a sensational combination of salsa, bomba, plena, son montuno and jazz. El Rumbero del Piano is a spectrum of memorable and danceable music in nine outstanding tracks, featuring vocals by Wichy Camacho and Herman Olivera, two of Latin music’s most inspiring singers.
In his modern version of Arsenio Rodriguez’s classic “Oigan mi Guaguanco ” Palmieri pays tribute to Rodriguez, the great Cuban tres player, one of the founding fathers of today’s tropical music. Puerto Rican customs and culture are the centerpiece of the bomba tune “El Dueño Monte” in which the vocalists pay tribute to other legendary figures of Puerto Rico’s folk music, including singer Ismael Rivera and the musicians of the Cepeda family.
In “Donde Esta mi Negra” Palmieri gives new life to a genre known as “the people’s newspaper”—the plena. This is the first plena Palmieri has composed and arranged. Another treat is a salsa version of “La Malagueña Salerosa” composed by Pedro Galindo and Elpidio Ramírez. The final track, “Para que Escuchen” is pure Palmieri, urging listeners to hear the talking drum.
On his exuberant Concord Picante debut, La Perfecta II, Eddie Palmieri took a salsified, mambo-rific trip down memory lane and bought an updated twist of his famed 1960s ensemble to a whole new generation of Latin music lovers.
Now that Tito Puente is gone, Palmieri accepts the passing of the Latin music leader baton and is happy to consider himself a Latin jazz ambassador to the world.
“Tito helped extend this music to all parts of the world, and as long as I am still healthy and energetic, I will continue to record and tour to keep this wonderful legacy alive,” says Palmieri. “The rhythms continue to excite because they keep evolving, just as they did when the African captives who started them were taken to the Caribbean. It’s a matter of finding new ways to utilize these complicated patterns and then create exciting new arrangements for my ensemble.”
“We’ve been together for many years and work like a good baseball team,” adds Palmieri of his band. “What matters is how we take care of specific synchronizations, and a lot of that takes place first in my head. The structure is there, and I look at it sometimes as a mathematical equation. But then, it must translate to emotion, and that’s where the reaction of the audience comes in.” He jokes about choosing the title of his 2003 album, “I like the sound of Ritmo Caliente on Concord Picante. It is hot and spicy, like the music.” On the CD, Palmieri combines hard core salsa and hard Latin jazz with his classical and chamber string influences. “Concord has been wonderful in offering me this ability to keep taking musical risks,” he said.
In 2005, Palmieri received a series of prestigious awards: he received the Alice Tully African Heritage Award from City College, received the Harlem Renaissance Award and was inducted into both the Bronx Walk of Fame and the Chicago Walk of Fame. He also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Urban Latino Magazine. He acted as Godfather of the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City and received the EL Award from El Diario Newspaper. Yet another outstanding achievement that year was the debut of “Caliente ” a radio show hosted by Mr. Palmieri on National Public Radio, making him the first Latino ever to do so. The show has been a tremendous success, being picked up by more than 16 radio stations nationwide.
In 2006, Palmieri’s Listen Here! won the Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Album. Simpático, released in 2007, a collaborative effort with trumpet master Brian Lynch, won the 2007 Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Album. Simpático was also recognized by the Jazz Journalist Association as Best Latin Jazz Album that same year.
Awards and accolades
Eddie Palmieri received his first Grammy Award in 1975 for his release The Sun of Latin Music, which is often considered the most historic, as it was the first time Latin Music was recognized by the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS).
Palmieri was awarded the Eubie Blake Award by Dr. Billy Taylor in 1991 and is among the few Hispanic musicians recognized by the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico and the New York State Assembly. In 1988, the Smithsonian Institution recorded two of Palmieri’s performances for their catalog of the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., a rare public honor.
The 1998 Heineken Jazz Festival in San Juan, Puerto Rico, paid tribute to his contributions as a bandleader, bestowing him an honorary doctorate degree from the Berklee College of Music.
Palmieri remains a powerhouse of brilliance and sound that has stirred audiences for more than 3 decades years, continually and successfully seeking to captivate and elevate the senses, and taking them down paths of intensity to a place where there are no musical boundaries.
Award-winning pianist and composer Eddie Palmieri, who’s one of the greatest names in Latin jazz, showcases his wide-ranging musical talent on Sabiduría (wisdom in Spanish). Along with his band of Latin music masters, Palmieri has invited an impressive cast of jazz musicians to perform on his album.
This is not a smooth Latin jazz album. While there is certainly a rich Afro-Cuban and Puerto Rican rhythmic and melodic foundation, Sabiduría presents plenty of jazz improvisation.
The album opens with a strong Cuban flavor, highlighting acclaimed Cuban violinist Alfredo de la Fe on “Cuerdas y Tumbao” and the Afro-Cuban batá drums of Xavier Rivera and Camilo Molina on “Wise Bata Blues.”
On the title track “Sabiduria” Palmieri keeps the Caribbean Latin rhythm section, but this time he ventures into fiery funk jazz featuring stellar work by bassist Marcus Miller and guitarist David Spinozza.
“La Cancha” is a mambo where Palmieri treats the listener to superb interplay between Joe Locke’s vibraphone and Alfredo de la Fe’s violin.
The Caribbean connection is always present in New Orleans. On “Augustine Parish” the saxophone takes the lead, featuring New Orleans horn player Donald Harrison.
Eddie Palmieri takes a break from the full ensemble format, delivering a mesmerizing solo piano performance titled “Life.”
“Samba Do Suenho” introduces Brazilian rhythms into the mix. Locke is back with his exquisite vibraphone, dancing with the piano and bass.
On “Spinal Volt” Palmieri returns to the Afro-Cuban theme with a Latin jazz orchestra showcasing percussion, horns and Palmieri’s incomparable piano.
“The Uprising” celebrates New Orleans carnival tradition with Mardi Gras Indians vocals, wild horn solos and the fabulous rhythm section.
On the Afro-Cuban composition “Coast To Coast,” Ronnie Cuber delivers an extended baritone saxophone solo, followed by Luques Curtis’ excellent bass solo.
“Locked In” highlights interaction between the piano, vibraphone and bass.
The last piece, “Jibarita y su son” has mysterious feel, starting with electronic keyboards, bass and layers of drums that leads into more familiar territory, with Palmieri mixing classical and Latin piano, presenting a tasty danzón.
The album lineup includes on Eddie Palmieri on piano; Joe Locke on vibraphone; Anthony Carrillo on bongos, cowbell; Little Johnny Rivero on conga; Luis Quintero on timbales; Luques Curtis on bass; Obed Calvaire on drums; Iwao Sado on batá drums; Bernard Purdie on drums; Ronnie Cuber on saxophone; Donald Harrison on saxophone, vocals; Alfredo de la Fe on violin; Marcus Miller on bass; David Spinozza on electric guitar; Camilo Molina on drums, batá drums, timbales; Xavier Rivera on batá drums; Jonathan Walsh on trumpet; Jeremy Powell on saxophone; Jonathan Powell on trumpet; and Louis Fouche on saxophone.
Bandleader Oquendo was a veteran of the days when Latin bands crowded into a studio to polish off a recording in an all-night session. “The first recording (singer) Tito Rodriguez did we took the 7th Avenue train to record for SMC label,” Oquendo recalled. “Tito Puente did the arrangements. You recorded on monaural with just a few mikes. You couldn’t stop and overdub. You just played.”
Oquendo’s musical education consisted of the old-school,just play” approach and he was in the right place to learn. He grew up on Kelly Street in the Bronx New York not far from the great Cuban tres player Arsenio Rodriguez. Colin Powell who’d later become a general lived on the block too so did pianist Noro Morales. And a lot of kids who’d later make their names in Latin music such as Joe Cuba the Palmieri brothers Little Ray Romero grew up playing stickball on Kelly Street.
One floor down from the Oquendo apartment was the Almacenes Hernandez record shop. “There was music constantly coming out of that store and that was my education,” Oquendo recalled. He became an expert on Cuban rhythms and began playing bongo and timbales with a succession of New York’s top bands.
Manny Oquendo died on March 25, 2009
Increible (1981. Reissued by Sony Discos Inc. 8397 2000)