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
The New Mexico Jazz Festival and the New Mexico Jazz Workshop’s summer jazz and blues series bring stellar talent to town. This year we’ve got the likes of NEA Jazz Masters Dave Holland, Charles Lloyd, and Dr. Lonnie Smith just for starters at the festival, and Brian Lynch and Matt Savage are among the stars lighting up the NMJW series.
The festival and summer series also offer top-drawer musicians in New Mexico an opportunity to perform in listening rooms and on stages where their music does not have to compete with bar chatter and the clink of silverware on china. This three-part series features ear-worthy local (or formerly local) acts stepping into the spotlight in the coming weeks. This final installment features tuba player/composer Mark Weaver and his UFO Ensemble, with original band member George Lane on trumpet, Micah Hood on trombone, and Rick Compton on drums. Continue reading
Fat and juicy. Such a big and palpable presence that you could almost settle into it like an easy chair. Doug Lawrence’s instantly recognizable sound on the tenor saxophone—at once
romantic and hip—conjures a state of grace that many of today’s young players speed
heedlessly by, leaving a blizzard of notes in their wake. For Lawrence, lead tenor saxophonist in the Count Basie Orchestra, it is all about the sound and the story, and in the intimate, funky
setting of the organ trio, he can stretch both out in a way that the big band does not permit.
This Sunday, he and Hammond B-3 specialist Bobby Floyd and drummer David Gibson will all play hooky from the big band and turn up the funk factor at the Outpost in the final
Albuquerque concert of the 2015 New Mexico Jazz Festival. Continue reading