Tag Archives: new mexico jazz festival

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

Local Don’t Mean Yokel (Part 3): Mark Weaver

Mark Weaver. Photo by Heather Trost.

Mark Weaver. Photo by Heather Trost.

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

Doug Lawrence Introduces a Deep-Fried Organ Trio

DL in RedFat 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

René Marie: Sweetened by Risk (Reprise)

Note: This is a reposting of a piece I did when René Marie last passed through here in March 2014. She was touring in support of her latest album, I Wanna Be Evil, an homage to Eartha Kitt, which was later nominated for a GRAMMY. I don’t remember who won in the category, but they must have been damn good to beat out I Wanna Be Evil. I interviewed her for the article, and it was one of the most satisfying chats I have ever had with an artist. She was open, honest, and unguarded, and she spoke with great warmth and
humor. It was more like a conversation with an old friend whom I had not seen in years than it was an interview with someone I had never met. Those of you who have seen her before likely already have your tickets in hand. For those of you who have never seen her, I strongly recommend you get tickets before they sell out. I can all but guarantee that you will leave the concert a somewhat better and much happier person than when you entered. (I’ve updated the concert information at the end of the post.)

Photo by JaniceYim.

Photo by Janice Yim.

I saw and heard René Marie for the first time at the Outpost last spring. Going in, I knew only that she was a jazz singer with two first names and an imaginative haircut. That night, I learned that onstage, she opens herself to the music, lights, and audience the way a morning glory opens itself to the sun—brilliantly exposed and vulnerable.

But in command, too—with a lovely instrument, an actress’s ability to assume character, a strong backbone, and a very clear idea of what she wants to do with a song.

This Thursday, vocalist, playwright, teacher, and activist Marie brings her group—with Kevin Bales (piano), Elias Bailey (bass), and Quentin Baxter (drums)—back to the Outpost, riding the wave generated by her latest album, I Wanna Be Evil (Motéma). It’s a delicious tribute to the late Eartha Kitt, featuring a number of songs associated with the strong-willed singer, actress, and dancer, as well as star turns from Charles Etienne on trumpet, the gloriously audacious Wycliffe Gordon on trombone, and Adrian Cunningham on flute, clarinet, and sax. The two ladies have a lot of characteristics in common—suavity, sensuality, grit, honesty, and straight talking—and it’s unlikely anyone else on this planet could honor Kitt as effectively as Marie does. Continue reading