Author Archives: Mel

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

Doug Lawrence and Cobb’s Mob Pay Tribute to Dexter Gordon

Dexter Gordon, in the words of the great jazz writer, editor, producer, and archivist Dan Morgenstern, “is of course the man who first created an authentic bebop style on the tenor saxophone.” That style influenced in one way or another just about every saxophonist who came after, and some of them—most notably John Coltrane—influenced Gordon in turn. That tells you something about the man’s dedication to his art.

On Saturday, July 15, tenor saxophonist Doug Lawrence, longtime lead tenor in the Count Basie Orchestra, will join Cobb’s Mob, a trio led by NEA Jazz Master drummer Jimmy Cobb, with bassist John Webber and pianist John Campbell, for a tribute concert copresented by the New Mexico Jazz Festival and the New Mexico Jazz Workshop. The festival will also be celebrating the 30th anniversary of Bertrand Tavernier’s film Round Midnight, in which Gordon plays a fictional tenorist named Dale Turner, loosely based on saxophonist Lester Young and pianist Bud Powell. The performance earned him an Oscar nomination. The free showing, on Sunday, July 16, will be followed by an interview with Gordon’s widow, Maxine Gordon, conducted by Steve Feld.

I had a chance to chat with Lawrence, a man as sweet as he is hip, and the following excerpts from our conversation touch on the genesis of the upcoming gig, the honor of playing with Jimmy Cobb, and Gordon’s influence on Lawrence. Continue reading

Three Reviews: Trio S, To Be Continued, and Anne Vanschothorst

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New releases from Trio S, To Be Continued, and Anne Vanschothorst wander off the beaten path. Continue reading

Monk Unearthed

Thelonious Monk Quintet
Les liaisons dangereuses 1960 (Sam Records and Saga)
A review

In 1958, iconic jazz pianist/composer Thelonious Monk, whose centenary we are celebrating this year (and no one more happily than I), was approached to provide music for Roger Vadim’s film Les liaisons dangereuses 1960. For a variety of personal and professional reasons, Monk resisted scoring new music for the project, but in July 1959, he did go into the studio in New York to record his current repertoire with a short-lived but very effective quintet that included Charlie Rouse (alto), Barney Wilen (tenor), Sam Jones (bass), and Art Taylor (drums). The use of this music in the film stirred critical controversy, but there was little doubt as to its quality. Unfortunately, the only way to hear the music since 1960 has been to watch the 101-minute film, which includes 33 minutes of Monk’s music under the film’s dialogue. Until now. That music—and much more— is now available on this two-LP or two-CD set (and as a download). Continue reading

A Dog-Loving Trio at the Outpost

The Dogbone Trio: Micah Hood, Jefferson Voorhees, Maren Hatch

Serendipity, thy name is the Dogbone Trio. Comprising Micah Hood (trombone), Maren Hatch, (acoustic bass), and Jefferson Voorhees (drums), this improvisational trio with a wide-ranging repertoire was formed and then discovered by chance. Nevertheless, their booking this week at the Outpost to kick off the 22nd Annual Summer Thursday Jazz Nights series, in tandem with the Jackie Zamora Brazilian Quintet, was a purely intentional move by Outpost Executive Director Tom Guralnick, who knows a good thing when he hears it. Continue reading