Jazz Reaches Out: New Releases from Under One Sun and David Lopato

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Jazz is an omnivorous music. It has munched on classical, rock, funk, Cuban, and a host of other musics from around the globe, transforming them and itself in the doing. Two new releases, Gendhing for a Spirit Rising from pianist David Lopato and Under One Sun from the eponymous group founded by saxophonist/composer Billy Drewes and percussionist Jamey Haddad, take different routes to making global connections for jazz. Continue reading

New Releases from Pianists Fred Hersch, Bill Evans, and Vijay Iyer

Two pianists famed for their touch and lyricism, Fred Hersch and the late Bill Evans, have new releases coming. Hersch’s brand-new solo album, Open Book, available September 8, provides a musical complement to his memoir, Good Things Happen Slowly, which will see bookstores on September 12. The tapes of the Bill Evans release, Another Time: The Hilversum Concert, surfaced only last fall. Recorded in the Netherlands on June 22, 1968, and available September 1, the album is only the third known recording of the short-lived and very distinctive trio featuring Eddie Gomez on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums. Vijay Iyer’s reputation rests on an intellectual rigor married to a passionate and progressive heart, along with serious chops, and his new sextet release, Far from Over (available August 25), manages to be invigorating, complex, and accessible all at once. Continue reading

Swing Local

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The Albuquerque/Santa Fe corridor boasts a vein of musical talent that is out of all proportion to the size of the population. Several of the folks featured in the two reviews below have gigged far and wide, exciting audiences on multiple continents, but what they all have in common is that they live here in northern New Mexico. We get to hear them quite frequently. So today we feature albums from fellow New Mexicans Arlen Asher and the trio Kadish Gagan Bartlit (aka KGB), and all you poor deprived coastal dwellers now have the opportunity to hear them, too. Continue reading

René Marie Gets (Even More) Personal

RenŽé Marie. Photo by John Abbott.

I’ve seen vocalist René Marie naked three times. So have tens of thousands of others—just about anyone, I’d bet, who’s seen her perform in person. No, she doesn’t strip off her clothes. She peels away emotional defenses, social niceties, and the veneer of celebrity to expose and open her heart. Why does she do that? So she can open yours. What’s more, she has three accomplices, collectively known as Experiment in Truth, who are expert at picking the internal locks—John Chin (piano), Elias Bailey (bass), and Quentin Baxter (drums). So be warned: you will be moved if you attend her New Mexico Jazz Festival concert at the African American Performing Arts Center on August 5. Continue reading

César Bauvallet’s Cuban Jazz Project at the New Mexican Jazz Festival

César Bauvallet, with Kanoa Kaluhiwa in background

Trombonist, sonero, percussionist, composer, and arranger César Bauvallet spent his childhood immersed in the sones, danzones, boleros, and cha-cha-chas of Cuba’s Golden Era of Music—a veritable explosion of traditional music whose romance and rhythms found their way into jazz and popular music around the world. Bauvallet’s father, Daniel, was at the heart of that era. His performances as a singer and drummer in Havana nightclubs helped to define the essence of the music for his own and later generations, and he schooled his gifted children in Cuban musical traditions. Bauvallet refined his musical gifts at Havana’s famed Amadeo Roldán Conservatory, from which he graduated summa cum laude, and went on to have a very successful career in Cuba, traveling around the world and playing his roots.

Twenty-five years ago, on tour with his band in Mexico, Bauvallet and his brother defected, walking across the bridge to El Paso. Bauvallet settled in Albuquerque, where he introduced a new group, Son Como Son, playing a Cuban style of salsa entirely new to the city. The members of this nine-piece band, drawn from the local population, were remorselessly schooled by Bauvallet in the traditions that were second nature to him, whom they call “The Source,” a man as strict as he is generous. Twenty-three years later, Son Como Son still packs every venue with its high-energy shows, and Bauvallet has branched out into other projects, such as Tradiciones, a smaller band that he created to celebrate and preserve the sumptuously rhythmic and romantic dance music of Cuba.

For the New Mexico Jazz Festival, Bauvallet has put together a band that draws on the diverse musical experiences of its members—pianist Jim Ahrend, tenor saxophonist Kanoa Kaluhiwa, bassist Janet Harman (Bauvallet’s wife), bongosero Victor Rodríguez, drummer Danilo Bauvallet (the son of Bauvallet and Harman), and special guest and Bauvallet’s longtime friend conguero Raciel Tortoló from Team Havana. They’ll be appearing at the Outpost on Sunday evening, July 23.

I recently spoke with Bauvallet about the project, and the following excerpts from our conversation touch on the genesis of the project, the band members, his apprenticeship in Cuba as an arranger, and his objective for the evening. Continue reading