Six Strings and a Soul

Shine OnTodd Tijerina, Shine On (indie)
A review

Before anything else, this must be said: Todd Tijerina is a stunning and expressive guitarist with an inborne grace. Shine On (available
October 11) is my first encounter with the man, and I could hardly take my ears off his fingers. He combines the rocking power of Stevie Ray Vaughan with the nuance of Blues Boy King in an economical, almost laconic blues style that wastes nary a note. Speed? Yeah, he’s got that, too, but it’s never an end in itself. He harnesses it in the service of the moment, using a flurry of notes here or there for emotional flashpoints. For most of the album, he’s on the acoustic that graces the cover, but he’s equally at home on his electric axe.
Whatever instrument he’s strapped on, he’s got a funky rhythmic sense that makes for
comfortable listening. Continue reading

Quick Hits: Three Reviews

It’s that time of year again: The baseball season is climbing to its climax (and my O’s are very much in the running for a postseason berth), so we spend an indefensible amount of time each game day willing balls and strikes, fair balls and foul, and of course, wins and losses. My
business clients have awakened from their estival slumber and are scrambling to spend their marketing budgets before they lose them. Plus, the late summer weather is so gorgeous that I don’t want to get off my bike. (Wanna ride up to Ojo Caliente tomorrow and have a soak?)

So there’s been less time to spend on music, just as the fall music season—with its raft of
musical releases needing review and incoming artists needing preview—bears down upon us. I’ll do my best in the coming weeks to appease the publicity folks who send out the new releases, and to satisfy your curiosity and mine about what’s going on in our small corner of the musical world.

Let’s start with three short reviews, starring Dave Douglas and Uri Caine, Apuh!, and Elizabeth Shepherd. Continue reading

Samba the Night Away

Baracutanga

Baracutanga.

When vibes/percussion player Nick Baker—anyone ever seen him without a smile on his face?—slipped me the word about a celebration of Brazil Independence Day this Friday at Sister Bar, featuring Baracutanga, PANdemonium, and Odara Dance Ensemble, I did some quick research on Brazilian Independence Day, since I knew absolutely nothing about it. Yet another gap in my education.

According to Wikipedia, on January 9, 1822, when Pedro, Prince of Brazil, refused to return to Portugal from the Kingdom of Brazil in response to the Portuguese assembly’s demand, he
created Dia do Fico, which Wikipedia freely translates as “I’ll Stay Day.” On September 7, the same cat declared Brazil’s independence, which is celebrated in Brazil by big military parades.

Outside Brazil, there’s no Brazilian military to appease, so people celebrate in a more Brazil-
appropriate way: with music and dancing. Wikipedia tells us that the 2008 celebration in New York City, called Brazil Day, drew 1.8 million people and was broadcast live in Brazil, so the folks down there had a choice other than military exhibitionism.

This Friday, Frank Leto’s PANdemonium, along with Pilar Leto’s Odara Dance Ensemble, will get things started. You won’t have to fight a crowd of 1.8 million, and you will likely be saying “Eu
ficarei”
along with Prince Pedro. Then, Baracutanga, fronted by singer Jackie Zamora, will justify your wise decision. Continue reading

The Beautiful Sound of Resistance

Rahim AlHaj

Rahim AlHaj.

For oud master Rahim AlHaj, music is not just a lovely sound, but a tool to open the senses to the world’s beauty, to open the mind to the possibility of peace, and to open the spirit to the guidance of love and compassion. He recognizes that music may appear to be a hopeless weapon against the harrowing madness careering across the planet these days—with particular brutality in his native country of Iraq—but he also believes that it holds the best and perhaps the only hope for bringing people together.

“That is what the significance is about music because it’s always united us. It always brings us together and makes life really beautiful,” he says. “As a musician—and as a human being first—it’s our job, it’s our duty to make peace to this world. This is not politicians’ job, this is not police job.”

This Saturday at the Outpost, AlHaj will shoulder the task once more—with help from David
Felberg (violin), Megan Holland (violin), Justin Pollock (viola), and James Holland (cello) of Chatter Ensemble, and Issa Malluf (percussion)—in a varied program of original music, including a new composition, Smai Hijaz. Continue reading

Happily in the Groove

Arnaldo Acosta.

Arnaldo Acosta.

Just look at the picture. It’s a far cry from the usual jazz artist publicity image depicting the
macho musical philosopher or the steely sage of 64th-note solos or the über-hip conqueror of harmonic heights.

This picture of drummer Arnaldo Acosta is about sheer jubilation, about jumping for joy. Here’s a man who loves his work, and his work is bringing the groove to your ears, heart, and soul.

This Saturday, in the New Mexico Jazz Workshop’s final concert of the summer season, the
Arnaldo Acosta Quintet, featuring Aaron Lovato (sax), Phil Arnold (trombone, harmonica), Stu MacAskie (keys), and Colin Deuble (bass), will explore the happy grooves of soul jazz, with the
intention of spreading a feel-good vibe throughout the amphitheater. (Also appearing on the bill is the Pat Malone Quartet, with the guitarist joined by Kanoa Kaluhiwa on sax, Colin Deuble on bass, and Diego Arencon on drums.) Continue reading