Circuit Rider comprises three of the most accomplished—and most generous—musicians on the planet: cornetist Ron Miles, guitarist Bill Frisell, and drummer Brian Blade. They ride into Albuquerque on February 25 for an Outpost fundraiser, and they bring with them a timely musical message that is reflected in both their material and their approach to it. Continue reading
Back in 2004, when Cuban pianist and composer Omar Sosa released his masterwork, Mulatos, I described him as the otic equivalent of the Very Large Array, and as the years have progressed, his ears have only gotten bigger. They suck in electronic and acoustic sounds from North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Arabia, and Asia, which he weaves into organic sonic tapestries on the warp of Afro-Cuban–inflected jazz, often in collaboration with artists from around the world.
This week he brings his Quarteto AfroCubano—his musical home base, if you will, featuring Cuban saxophonist Leandro Saint-Hill, Mozambican electric bassist Childo Tomas, and Cuban drummer Raul Pineda—to the Outpost. I had the opportunity to interview him a couple of weeks ago. His positive energy is infectious, both on the phone and at the piano. He spoke with great animation and frequent laughter on topics ranging from his musical mission to his latest recording (the sublime Transparent Water, reviewed here) to the profound influence of Thelonious Monk.
Our edited conversation, along with details about the upcoming concert, follows. Continue reading
It may take you a while to get past “That’s the Way of It,” the opening track of saxophonist Glenn Kostur’s new album, The Way of It (Artist Alliance Records), because you may keep hitting the repeat button. An optimistic blues shuffle with a hard bop edge, this Kostur original has a punchy head that can bubble up out of nowhere while you’re loading the dishwasher or daydreaming at a red light, and set your head to bobbing.
It’s an excellent start to this welcome collection of 10 mainstream tracks—6 originals and 4 standards—with Kostur on bari and tenor, backed by Steve Kovalcheck (guitar), Dana Landry (pianos), Erik Applegate (bass), and Jim White (drums). Kostur will celebrate the album’s release in concert at the Outpost this Thursday with these same sidemen, as well as special guest vocalist Hillary Smith. “That’s the Way of It” could well open the set, so don’t be late. Continue reading
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