Tag Archives: Latin jazz

Highly Emotional Music From Man of La Mancha

Eliane Elias – Music From Man of La Mancha (Concord Jazz, 2018)

Brazilian pianist Eliane Elias’ new album consist of unreleased pieces from the musical The Man From La Mancha, initially composed by Mitch Leigh for the Broadway production in 1964.

Eliane Elias’ Music From Man of La Mancha was originally recorded in 1995, co-produced by Elias and Leigh, but was not released due to contractual state of affairs.

Despite the play’s direct connection to Spain, there is not much visible Spanish influence in this recording. Instead, Music From Man of La Mancha has a strong Latin jazz and Brazilian essence, featuring Brazilian rhythms such as baião and samba.

Music From Man of La Mancha features Elias on piano, Eddie Gomez on bass; Jack DeJohnette on drums; Marc Johnson on bass; Satoshi Takeishi on drums; and Manolo Badrena on percussion.

On Music From Man of La Mancha, Eliane Elias created a masterfully crafted and highly expressive album, featuring outstanding performances by her colleagues and her signature piano sound with plenty of memorable moments, including the beautiful “Dulcinea.”



Buy Music From Man of La Mancha


Omar Sosa and Seckou Keita to Present “Transparent Water” in Carrboro

Cuban pianist Omar Sosa, one of the leading jazz pianists and Senegalese kora maestro Seckou Keita, along with Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles, are set to perform on Tuesday, March 20th at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, North Carolina at 8:00 p.m.

The trio will present the US debut tour of their Transparent Water album. Transparent Water was the number 1 world music album in March 2017 at the Transglobal World Music Chart.


Omar Sosa and Seckou Keita – Transparent Water



For tickets and more information go to artscenterlive.org.

The ArtsCenter is located at 300-G E. Main Street in Carrboro.


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.


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)


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


Omar Sosa and NDR Bigband to Release Es:sensual

Omar Sosa and NDR Bigband – Es:sensual

Acclaimed Cuban pianist Omar Sosa and Germany’s NDR Bigband are set to release Es:sensual on January 18. This is the international release of this album that previously available only in Germany.

Es:sensual is a continuation of pianist and composer Omar Sosa’s collaboration with Hamburg’s NDR Bigband (North German Radio-Norddeutscher Rundfunk) and renowned Brazilian cellist, composer and arranger Jaques Morelenbaum, whose inaugural effort can be heard on the Omar Sosa-NDR Bigband CD Ceremony (Otá, 2010).

Buy Es:sensual


Les Moncada Chats with Joe Conzo Sr. Author and Tito Puente’s Best Friend

Joe Conzo Sr. with master timbalero Tito Puente


I feel that each musician has their own personality that goes hand in hand with the instrument they play; I also feel each musician has a friend that they are attracted to, based on personality, charisma and charm.

With a charismatic personality, Tito Puente, the legend of the timbales drums, composer and Latin orchestra leader, had his best friend: Joe Conzo Sr. from New York.

Joe Conzo is an encyclopedia, with his friendship and grand knowledge of Tito Puente: events, recordings and so much more. He is the author of a book about Tito Puente entitled Mambo Diablo.

Joe Conzo is also giving lectures at Hostos College in the Bronx, New York. The lectures and studies on Tito Puente and Latin musician legends of the past intend to make the students and public aware of these musical legacies.


Latin piano legend Eddie Palmieri with Joe Conzo Sr.


…and let’s see what Joe Conzo Sr. has to say.

Well, Joe, talk to me a little bit about your background.

Joe: I am of Puerto Rican mother and Italian father. I was born and raised in Spanish Harlem. I had 1 brother, who recently passed and I have 2 sisters.

Joe how was it that you got involved in Latin music?

Joe: Latin music was in my family, in going to candy stores as a kid, walking down the street. Home was always where Latin music was played. There were two types of Latin music, there was the Le lo lai, or country Puerto Rican and Cuban music, and there was the swinging stuff that they would play at the Palladium and at Park Palace.

There was Park Plaza and there was Park Place, both at the same location, one upstairs and one downstairs that was the place to be! It was located on 110th Street, off 5th Avenue. It is a church today.

Joe Conzo Sr. with bongosero legend John Rodriguez


(Joe was naming all the bands that used to play there, Noro Morales, Tito Puente etc and he said all the musician would congregate and talk on the corner, you would see them all out there, talking on the corner).

Joe how was it that you met Tito Puente?

Joe: I met Tito Puente in the Palladium in 1959. I ran into him, and I also went to see him. I was a frustrated conga player. Tito Puente’s music was unbelievable. I bought one of his albums for 75 cents; it was Cuban Carnival.

I really resent the word “salsa” like Tito Puente did, (it was a catch promotional word to promote the new movement of salsa music, evolving from the mambo era.)

(Joe Conzo told me that Jerry Masucci coined the word for his Fania label. I told Joe that the first time I heard the term “Salsa” was in 1973 when I was a young 15 year old FM radio DJ at the University. One of the secretaries at Tico Records, Diana Monge, used to send newsletters from Tico Records, which later became Fania Records. “In the same building,” Joe says and I agree. The newsletter sent out to the disc jockeys was called “Salsa Dice”.)


Mambo Diablo, My Journey With Tito Puente by Joe Conzo Sr.



Joe, if Tito came over to your house to visit you on an evening or such, what would Tito talk about, or what would you and Tito discuss? First of all what was Tito’s favorite drink?

Joe: Tito’s favorite drink was vodka and cranberry. If Tito came over, we would talk about anything, no set topic, just everyday things. Tito did not talk about politics, he played for 4 presidents, 2 Republicans and 2 Democrats. (Joe goes on naming the presidents, but Tito despised politicians).

What did Tito think of his band members?

Joe: Well, we would have band talk, discuss expenses, maybe cutting down the band. You know Tito had 14 mouths to feed, (laughs out loud, discussing band members), sometimes he had to cut down the band. it is hard to travel with a big band, maybe they would call some horn players and musicians on the west coast etc, to cut down band expenses.

Tito would not convert to one thing (or type of band). Tito was not afraid of competition; he was not afraid to branch out and not afraid to challenge things.

Tito did what he had to do to stay on the top, and they could not pay him to play every week in one place, although he did one time.

Tito had a mindset to improve his band, he was always writing (arranging) things and trying new things.


Joe Conzo Sr. with master percussionist Pablo “El Indio” Rosario


Joe, are you working on a new book? I heard it was about, “The Big 3”, Machito, Tito Puente and Tito Rodriguez.

Joe: I started the book. You know that the Puente book I wrote took me 2 to 3 years to write.


Joe Conzo Sr., author & lecturer of Latin Music History


Well what does the future of Joe Conzo bring?

Joe: I have been lecturing at Hostos College and I will continue that. (Joe went on to tell me that Tito Puente wrote over 700 tunes and about the thousands of recording he has of Tito Puente and some live recordings of Tito Puente and also about some albums that he produced. Joe mentioned that he knew Morris Levy, the owner of Tico Records, and he stated that when folks in the studio hear that they are really impressed, due to Levy being a recording legend and owner of Birdland).

I will continue to doing the lecture series and see what life brings.

Thank you, Joe Conzo Sr., for your time and vast knowledge on the subject of Tito Puente and Latin Music. I appreciate your support for Latin Music and your support of my Facebook Percussion Site Timbales and Congas Bongo Bata and Bells, along with my son Marco Moncada.

Joe Conzo asked me why I was posting vintage pictures on my Timbales and Congas site, telling me that only he and bongosero John Rodriguez could identify the musicians in the pics, laughing that I was making him think.

Again, thanks Joe!


A Jazz Flute Celebration

Nestor Torres – Jazz Flute Traditions

Nestor Torres – Jazz Flute Traditions (Alfi Records, 2017)

Puerto Rican flute virtuoso Nestor Torres celebrates jazz, classical and Latin jazz stylings on Jazz Flute Traditions. The album includes a wonderful tribute to Spain featuring a medley of the “Concierto De Aranjuez” and Chick Corea’s iconic composition “Spain.”

The album also includes versions of classics by Herbie Mann, Yusef Lateef, Cole Porter and Chick Corea’s “Windows” and various other composers.

The lineup on Jazz Flute Traditions includes Néstor Torres on flute; Silvano Monasterios on piano; Jamie Ousley on bass; Michael Piolet on drums, and José Gregorio Hernández on percussion.

Guests: Miguel Russell, on percussion; Ian Muñoz on alto saxophone; and Marcus Grant on drums.

Buy Jazz Flute Traditions


Dance of Time by Eliane Elias Wins Best Latin Jazz/Jazz Latin Grammy Award

Eliane Elias – Dance of Time


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.



Buy Dance of Time


Spain Forever Wins Best Instrumental Album Latin Grammy Award

Michel Camilo and Tomatito – Spain Forever

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.

Buy Spain Forever


Artist Profiles: Rebeca Mauleon

Rebeca Mauleon

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.


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