Jazz Caliente

Saturday 5PM-6PM

Where jazz meets Afro-Cuban, Afro-Brazilian, Puerto Rican, and Pan-American rhythms.  A lively tour of the diverse world of Latin Jazz hosted by Robin Llloyd.

Latin Jazz drummer Bobby Matos 1941-2017
courtesy of the artist

The Latin jazz world lost a great musician and supporter last weekend.  Drummer Bobby Matos died on November 11, after fighting cancer for a couple of years.  A dedicated performer and educator, Bobby Matos and his music touched many lives.

Saxophonist Miguel Zenón's album "Típico" is nominated for a Latin Grammy
Katz/Courtesy of the Artist / miguelzenon.com

The 18th Annual Latin Grammy Awards ceremony takes place on Thursday November 16 in Las Vegas.  This week on Saturday Jazz Caliente, we'll sample the albums nominated for the Latin Grammy's Best Latin Jazz Album, and one that's in the Best Instrumental Album category.

Drummer Jeff "Bongo" Busch anticipates cake for Saturday Jazz Caliente's first birthday
KNKX Studio Session video / Michael Goude, Vibe Vision Seattle

Well, that year flew by! 

Thanks to our community of listeners, Saturday Jazz Caliente debuted on KNKX on November 5, 2016.

Ray Vega performs in the KNKX studio, 2014
Justin Styer / KNKX

Trumpeter Ray Vega is a veteran of Latin Jazz, having worked in the bands of Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Ray Barretto and Mario Bauza.  A native of the South Bronx, he's a multi-talented trumpeter, percussionist, composer, and arranger.  You'll hear quite a bit of Ray's music on Jazz Caliente, from his albums Boperation, Pa'lante and Squeeze Squeeze.

Dizzy Gillespie plays his trumpet on the main stage during the Monterey Jazz Festival in Sept. 1990
Eric Risberg / AP

Saturday Jazz Caliente is all about Dizzy Gillespie this week, to honor the brilliant trumpeter's contributions to Latin Jazz on his 100th birthday.  

George Gershwin 1898-1937
Bain News Service / Public Domain

Known as one of  the most significant composers of American music, George Gershwin excelled in popular songs, Broadway musicals and even classical compositions. 

In February of 1932, George treated himself to a two-week vacation in Cuba.  When he came back to the US, he wrote a short piece of music inspired by the rhythms he heard on the island.

Mongo Santamaría plays the conga drums at the Super Jazz Concert at the Apollo Theater in New York, 1988.
William I. Ballinger / AP

Ramón "Mongo" Santamaría Rodríguez is probably the most recognized of the Cuban-born conga drum players associated with American jazz and R&B.  To many, Mongo represented the pinnacle of Afro-Cuban percussion.

Cuban pianist and bandleader Omar Sosa
Massimo Mantivani / Courtesy of the artist

October is shaping up to be an outstanding month for Cuban music and Latin Jazz in the Seattle area.  Here's a preview of  some upcoming shows and artists.

The Spanish Harlem Orchestra on stage at Lincoln Center's "Out of Doors" concert series, 2017
Luxe Creative Imaging / Courtesy of SHO

The Spanish Harlem Orchestra is on tour celebrating its 15th year of performing and recording.  All of their albums have been nominated for Grammy awards and they've collected two awards so far.  Their shows sell out all over the US and the world.  They'll be at Jazz Alley next week, Tuesday September 26 and Wednesday September 27.

What makes this group so special?  Most likely, it's the vision of excellence held and shared by the band and its pianist/music director/leader Oscar Hernández.

Cuban jazz player Arturo Sandoval plays during a concert in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017
AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

Cuban trumpeter and multi-instrumentalist Arturo Sandoval returns to Seattle this week, playing Dimitriou's Jazz Alley Thursday 9/14 through Sunday 9/17. 

Arturo Sandoval first studied classical trumpet, then turned to jazz.  In his live shows, he radiates the joy of music, much like his mentor Jazz Master Dizzy Gillespie.

Paquito D' Rivera with clarinet
courtesy of the arist / paquitodrivera.com

The music of saxophonist/clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera and trumpeter/pianist Arturo Sandoval has been censored from Cuban airwaves for decades now,  since they both defected to the U.S.  

Band mates in the groundbreaking Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna and founding members of the legendary Cuban group Irakere, both musicians took advantage of world tours to make their escape.  Both have also gone on to make incredibly successful international careers, but still, it has to hurt to know that your name has been erased from your native country's cultural history.

Ray Barretto plays the congas at the Tito Puente Auditorium in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2002
Andres Leighton / Associated Press

This week's Jazz Caliente includes music from conguero, composer and bandleader Ray Barretto.  One of the first musicians to introduce Latin percussion to American be-bop, he was known as Manos Duras (Hard Hands), a true power-hitter of the congas. 

Musican playing a bamboo horn called Vaksen
Alfonso Lomba / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 3.0

In the early 1800s French slave owners fled the revolution in Haiti and many settled in Cuba.  They brought approximately 27,000 Haitian slaves with them to work on the coffee and sugar cane plantations.

Haitian culture is closely linked to Cuba’s because of their shared African heritage.   Creole is the second most spoken language in Cuba, after Spanish, and it has its roots in Haiti.  The Haitian language, religions and music and dance traditions remain a large part of Cuban culture.

Pablo Menéndez and Mezcla
courtesy of the artist

Guitarist Pablo Menéndez takes fusion to the next level.  His band Mezcla (meaning "mixture") blends jazz, blues, rock and several styles of Cuban and African music into one raucous, joyous expression of life.

Mambo steps on the street
John Henderson, Flickr / Creatiive Commons (CC BY 2.0)

According to Rebeca Mauleon's indispensable "Salsa Guidebook for Piano and Ensemble,"  the Mambo is:

An up-tempo dance style, developed through the 1940s and 1950s, which blended several elements of North American instrumentation and harmony with the Cuban son (a style of popular dance music that combined Spanish and African elements).

Jerry Gonzalez in 2012
By Andrea Zapata Girau (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

“Andy and Jerry Gonzalez changed the face of Latin jazz—in fact, they defined that hybrid.” — Arturo O’Farrill

album cover "Patato Valdes Live at the Canal Room"
USA Records, 2006

Conga drummer Carlos Valdés carried his nickname with pride.  "Patato" in Cuban slang means "potato,"  in the sense of something small and low to the ground.  Valdés was small in stature, but the Little Spud was a giant in Afro Cuban jazz.  

Pianist, educator and social activist Danilo Pérez
photo courtesy of the artist / Mack Avenue Records/Danilo Pérez

The Republic of Panama has produced some stellar modern musicians like popular singer and actor Rubén Blades and jazz drummer Billy Cobham.   Add to that list the prolific pianist, educator and social activist Danilo Pérez.

Rebecca Corbaley, KNKX

Two informative, fun and  in-depth resources for learning about Latin music debuted  in 2009:  the interactive exhibit "American Sabor" and the PBS series "Latin Music USA."

courtesy of the artist / ponchosanchez.com

Conguero and bandleader Poncho Sanchez was born in Laredo, Texas but grew up in a melting-pot suburb of Los Angeles.  His music reflects the various influences of jazz, Latin jazz, R&B and soul, and it's a joyful mixture.

YACIEL PEÑA DE LA PEÑA

Emiliano Salvador is perhaps the most overlooked of Cuban jazz pianists.  His intensity and focus drew comparisons to Thelonious Monk, he had the sensitivity of Bill Evans, and his innovative approach echoed McCoy Tyner and Herbie Hancock.

Yolydia / wikicommons CC BY-SA 3.0

What we call "Latin Jazz" is usually jazz played over Afro-Cuban or Brazilian rhythms.  We've explored Afro-Peruvian jazz, and now it's time to look to Puerto Rico.  

The folkloric Afro-Puerto Rican styles of Bomba and Plena also lend themselves nicely to latin jazz.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The Rumba Kings have evolved over the last couple of years into a guitar-driven band that plays passionate music in the flamenco, rumba, Greek, Italian and Spanish styles, and more.   The lush Mediterranean and Romani sounds and rhythms are irresistible, and the most recent addition to the group, vocalist Rustam Shtar, adds another romantic dimension. 

Judy Morales/Fania Records

In 1964, multi-instrumentalist and bandleader Johnny Pacheco and his friend Jerry Masucci started a tiny record label called Fania.  The company grew from very small beginnings (Pacheco delivered their first records personally to music stores from the trunk of his car) to become the powerhouse of Latin music known as the Motown of salsa.

Jerry Lacay / Carlini Media

Francisco Aguabella was one of the Conga Kings, raised in the drumming tradition of Matanzas, Cuba, an area dedicated to preserving African traditions.

He played batá drums for religious and folkloric ensembles, and conga drums for the popular styles of mambo, rumba, son and Latin jazz.  

Dizzy Gillespie called Aguabella the "John Coltrane of the conga drums."

Lionel DECOSTER / CC BY SA 3.0

Trombonist Steve Turre grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area where, he says, he "absorbed daily doses of mariachi, blues and jazz."  

Daniel Shen / CC BY-SA 2.0

Us Latin jazz fans love our rhythms. They are the special sauce in the music that moves us.  Here's one of the rhythm makers who goes well beyond time-keeping, and transports us to different worlds: Airto Moreira.

Havana Theatre
“club español” by Pablo Trincado is licensed under CC BY 2.0 bit.ly/2qnc53Q

Jazz Appreciation Month wraps up once again with International Jazz Day on April 30, and the annual All-Star Global Concert.   This year's host city for the concert is Havana, Cuba.

The pioneering Cuban jazz band Irakere nurtured some of Cuba's leading musicians who went on to gain international fame.

Mack Avenue Records

There's a new wave of young Cuban jazz pianists who are pushing boundaries while still honoring the traditions of Cuban music and the modern masters like Chucho Valdes and Gonzalo Rubalcaba.  

Meet Harold López-Nussa, your guide for "El Viaje," the journey.

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