Vinicius Cantuária Celebrates Jobim and Opens the NM Jazz Fest

digipak 4pVinicius Cantuária, Vinicius canta Antonio Carlos Jobim (Sunnyside Records)
A Review

The New Mexico Jazz Festival gets up and
running this week with a “new trend”—or as it is more familiarly known, bossa nova—in the person of guitarist, composer, percussionist, and vocalist Vinicius Cantuária. Cantuária, who moved from his native Brazil to New York City in the ’90s, made a name for himself in the neo–Brazilian music world and in NYC’s Downtown scene, itself noted for new trends. On this recording, Cantuária hews close to the classic style, with subtle jazz shadings, and makes Jobim the star of the show. Continue reading

Juneteenth Concert Spotlights Albuquerque’s African-American Talent

Building Community and Preserving History, One Celebration at a Time

The African-American community in Albuquerque traces its history back to the founding of the villa in 1706, and people of African or mixed African descent have been present in New Mexico at least as far back as the Spanish explorations of the early 1500s, if not well before. The African roots are deep, and the African-American community in Albuquerque today brims with musical talent.

For vocalist/songwriter/producer Cathryn McGill, Juneteenth, the oldest celebration in the
United States commemorating the end of slavery, presents an excellent opportunity to focus the city’s attention on the contributions of African-Americans to the musical heritage of both the country and the state. As curator of the New Mexico Jazz Workshop’s Juneteenth Freedom Concert: Whole Lot of Rhythm Goin’ Down, A Musical History from Justice to Jazz and Freedom to Funk, she’s conceived an evening that will bring the African-American musical community
together, entertain the community at large, and remind us all of our shared history. Continue reading

The Inclusive Composer/Arranger

jpegJohn Hollenbeck, Songs We Like a Lot
(Sunnyside Records)
A Review

Percussionist/composer/arranger John
has a well-earned reputation as a musician who embraces many traditions,
mixing genres the way a chef mixes disparate ingredients. You can taste traces of the
individual ingredients in the final dish, but the overall result has a character all its own.

With Songs We Like a Lot (Sunnyside Records; available June 23), Hollenbeck applies himself to an equally disparate selection of tunes, from pop to ecclesiastical to techno, and texts, from Rumi to Kenneth Patchen. He cooks up
sumptuous arrangements and compositions that are stunningly performed by the Frankfurt
Radio Bigband
, along with vocalists Theo Bleckmann and Kate McGarry and keyboardists Uri Caine and Gary Versace. Continue reading

The Cool Water of Redemption

Album artwork by Bianca Sanchez.

Album artwork by Bianca Sanchez.

Gabrielle Jackson, Lotus, the EP (All Bad Records)
A Review

Had singer/songwriter Gabrielle Jackson’s
debut recording, Lotus, the EP (All Bad Records), come to me over the transom or via a publicist, the chances are that it would not have found a spot anywhere near the top of the “Listen” pile. No doubt the press release would have gushed about her youth (she was 19 when she recorded this; she’s now 20), her beautiful voice, and the unique circumstances of the recording process. (The album was recorded at Warehouse 508, Albuquerque’s Youth Art and Entertainment Center.) The release would also likely have played on the hardships this young woman has faced—poverty, domestic violence, and homelessness, just for starters. None of this would have moved me to push the album higher up the pile—just the opposite.

Lucky for me, I did not find Jackson’s album in my mailbox. Instead, I heard it for the first time a couple of weeks ago on Brandon Kennedy’s Freeform radio show on KUNM. Thanks, Brandon. Thank you very much. Continue reading

Overturned Expectations

Shadowbox coverRob Reich, Shadowbox (BAG Records)
A Review

Like a good cut fastball that seems headed for the heart of the plate but changes course at the last millisecond, accordionist/pianist Rob Reich’s music doesn’t always end up where you expect it to. It dips and slides and curves out of one genre and into another—that is, when you can identify a genre. On Shadowbox (BAG Records), recorded live,
direct-to-tape at John Vanderslice’s Tiny
Telephone studio in San Francisco, Reich
assembles a crew adept at confounding expectations, including Todd Sickafoose on bass (and coproducer with Reich), Eric Garland on drums, Ben Goldberg on clarinet, and Ila Cantor on
guitar. With that lineup, you expect high-minded playfulness, virtuosity, and a seat-of-the-pants thrill, and that expectation is fulfilled. Continue reading