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
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
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
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
Early on in 20 Feet from Stardom (2013), Morgan Neville’s Oscar-winning and highly recommended documentary about backup singers, Bruce Springsteen notes that while the physical distance between the star and the backup singers is only a few feet, it is a long, hard journey to get across that distance. Lisa Fischer, a longtime member of the supporting cast for the Rolling Stones, Luther Vandross, Sting, and other pop/rock/soul royalty, has seemingly been catapulted into a solo career by the film, but the journey from back to front actually took nearly 40 years—and that despite winning a GRAMMY in 1992. The trip required intense personal honesty and growth, and it has at last placed her otherworldly talents front and center where they rightfully belong.
With a 4+-octave instrument and a musicality that match those of the divas—from Aretha Franklin to Patti LaBelle to Mariah Carey to Whitney Houston—Fischer has been mesmerizing audiences around the world, backed by her band, Grand Baton, featuring JC Maillard on guitar and keys, Aidan Carroll on bass, and Thierry Arpino on drums. This coming weekend, she will lift Albuquerque’s spirits at the fifth annual gala fundraiser for Outpost Performance Space at the Albuquerque Museum’s amphitheater. It is a concert that is not to be missed. Continue reading