Jazz Caliente

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.

Ways to Connect

Samuel Torres at Brooklyn Studio Loft 360
Emra Islek / courtesy of the artist

According to Nolan Warden, whose well-researched article "The History of the Conga Drum" appeared in the February 2005 edition of Percussive Notes (a publication of the Percussive Arts Society):  what North Americans call conga drums are actually "tumbadoras." 

Tiempo Libre's latest album, Panamericano (2015)
courtesy of the artists / Universal Music LLC

It's a brand new year, and opportunities to hear live Latin Jazz and related music abound in our region.  Listed here are some  upcoming shows you'll want to put on your calendar.  Click on the links for more information.

Manuel Galbán playing with The Buena Vista Social Club, 2006
Bryan Ledgard

Ry Cooder called him a guitar wizard.

Jon Pareles of The New York Times wrote in 2003:  “Mr. Galbán was one of the wonders of Cuban music in the 1960s.  His playing pulled together two almost contradictory approaches: the floating reverb of surf guitar and the percussive, snapping sound of the tres, the small guitar that’s a fulcrum between rhythm and melody in Cuban son groups.”

Pianist Abelita Mateus
Christopher Drukker / courtesy of the artist

Brazilian rhythms mixed with jazz have been a blessing to North American ears since the Bossa Nova craze of the 1960s.  It's encouraging to see a new generation of Brazilian musicians focus on jazz with a fresh approach.

Flutist, bandleader and educator Danilo Lozano
courtesy of the artist

Miami is known for its "Little Havana" neighborhood, home to Cuban and Cuban-American culture since the 1960s.  On the other side of the US, the equivalent was Echo Park in Los Angeles. 

Although many of the Cuban exiles who settled in the Echo Park neighborhood have since dispersed throughout Southern California, there is still a strong Cuban music component in L.A.

Percussionist Willie Bobo (1934-1983)  and his son Eric
courtesy of the artist

William Correa, best known as Willie Bobo, blended jazz, rock and Latin rhythms and was one of the of the prominent bandleaders of the 1960s Latin Soul movement.  He called it "the sound a Latin cat in Harlem would dig."

The New Cool: Cuban Jazz Meets American Pop

Dec 1, 2017
Eduardo Rawdriguez / billboard.com

I'm always suspicious of collections of modern pop covers. The songs of today don't normally equal the quality of the Great American Songbook. But the collaborations on the new album AmeriCuba from the Havana Maestros bring fresh energy and explore unexpected opportunities for improvisation.

Eddie Palmieri and Cal Tjader's first album together, El Sonido Nuevo 1966
Verve Records

One of the most appealing Latin Jazz/Pop crossover artists was drummer/vibraphonist Callen Radcliffe  "Cal" Tjader.  Cal had a deep appreciation and respect for Afro-Cuban and Brazilian music.

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.

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.

KCTS9

Juan de Marcos and the Afro-Cuban All Stars return to Seattle on the night of Wednesday April 12 for a show at the Moore Theater.  We're delighted that they've also agreed to perform for a live studio session that afternoon, broadcast live at 12:15 p.m. on KNKX.

Juan de Marcos is marking 20 years since the amazing success of the Buena Vista Social Club recordings and the resulting world tour that made stars of "los viejos," the elder musicians who paved the way for modern Cuban music.

courtesy of the artist

Second cousin to the Latin jazz we play on Jazz Caliente is the blend of jazz, Latin, soul and funk that grew up in the streets of New York in the 1960s.  Called Latin soul or boogaloo, it's rhythmic, fun and immensely danceable.

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