Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Here is the lineup:
Hans Glawischnig Bass
Antonio Sanchez Drums
Jaleel Shaw Saxes
Luis Perdomo Piano
Miguel Zenón Alto sax
Tony Escapa Drums
Chris Cheek Saxes
Christian Nieves Cuatro
Rafael Tito De Gracia Timbal
Ricardo Pons Alto sax
Yan Carlos Artime Coro
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
In one of our early posts we highlighted the fact that Miguel was one of the winners of the prestigious MacArthur Grant. Miguel being one of the young lions tearing it up nowadays has been working on his own Latin Jazz project with an emphasis on the rhythms of Puerto Rico, or more specifically, "Plena". If you look at the picture above in the right behind Miguel is another young lion, Obanilu Ire Allende (son of Papiro Allende) and percussionist extraordinaire.
Check out this article I found on the times:
When the jazz saxophonist and composer Miguel Zenón visits his native Puerto Rico to see his mother and other relatives every year around Christmastime, he rarely hears any jazz. Instead he’s surrounded by plena, a century-old Afro-Caribbean musical tradition, a kind of movable street-corner folksong.
Plena is made with three different-size panderos (like tambourines without the cymbals) and voices singing about island myths and scandals, cultural identity, political reality, love and plena itself.
“It’s really common,” he said in an interview last week in Washington Heights, where Mr. Zenón, 31, now lives with his wife, Elga Castro, a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the New School. “And it’s so simple that you find it at a basketball game, at church — anywhere.”
Panderos are easily portable, as opposed to the barrel-shaped drums used in bomba, another island music. And the four-beat plena rhythm has also been part of the holiday-season ritual of parranda, which is akin to Christmas caroling: surprise late-night musical visits to the neighbors.
Part of the jazz tradition is using whatever’s in front of you, and Mr. Zenón, a New Yorker since 1999, has done this before. His album “Jíbaro” (Marsalis Music), from 2005, dealt with the song form of Puerto Rican back-country troubadours, and it had a preoccupation with numbers, particularly in the décima, a 10-line stanza with specific rhyme schemes.
"Jíbaro” threads Puerto Rican folklore through small-group jazz played at a high level, led by Mr. Zenón’s limpid and graceful alto saxophone sound. The album helped establish Mr. Zenón as one of the important contemporary revisers of Latin jazz and spread his reputation for delivering excellent music from a complicated premise, a reputation that reached the secret committees of the MacArthur Foundation, which awarded him one of its $500,000 “genius” grants in September.
This year Mr. Zenón also received a Guggenheim research grant and took a long fact-finding trip back to Puerto Rico. To ask for introductions to the living plena masters, he sought out Hector (Tito) Matos, a plena practitioner who has played with the long-running New York band Los Pleneros de la 21, as well as his own group, Viento de Agua.
Mr. Matos pointed him toward historians and older musicians like Modesto Cepeda and Ismael (Cocolai) Rivera so that Mr. Zenón could understand the music’s origins and functions. He learned about the subtle differences, for instance, between the San Juan-style use of the open hand on the pandero and the slower-tempo “punta de clavo” fingertip style of Mayagüez.
An insight from Ramón López, an ethnomusicologist who has written about plena, helped Mr. Zenón with his work. “He said something to me about how the moment you put plena onstage, it’s not the real thing anymore,” Mr. Zenón said. “So he told me not to worry about it, because it’s already different from what it’s supposed to be.”
Mr. Matos said: “That he decided to focus on plena for a whole recording and a whole research project, that surprised me right away. It’s very important what Miguel is doing, to open the music we play to more ears around the world.”
Mr. Zenón used his research for his composition “Esta Plena,” a work in 10 parts: half instrumental, half with singing. (He wrote his own lyrics too: about the nature of plena, about an all-night New Year’s party at Mr. Matos’s house, about political corruption and the disappearance of cultural tradition.) It will be performed for the first time this week, Thursday through Sunday, at the Jazz Gallery in the South Village. The performances feature his working quartet — Mr. Zenón, the pianist Luis Perdomo, the bassist Hans Glawischnig and the drummer Henry Cole — as well as three extra musicians playing plena rhythms and singing: Mr. Matos, Juan Gutiérrez and Obanilu Allende.
Again in “Esta Plena” Mr. Zenón used numbers as an organizing principle. “There are three panderos in plena,” he said. “So I dealt with the number three. In terms of form I wrote a lot of phrases in three or six. Harmonically I started thinking in terms of major-third intervals and augmented triads, and from there I built melodies and chord progressions.”
That the basic plena rhythm is always in four — with the biggest drum accenting the one and three, the middle one accenting the three and four, and the smallest providing improvised accents — didn’t deter Mr. Zenón. Through “Esta Plena” he has kept the four-beat percussive plena rhythm steady, while writing melodic cycles for the rest of the band in three or nine.
If you think that sounds complex, you’re right. (Mr. Zenón graduated from Berklee College of Music in 1998 and had no formal math training beyond high school. Still, he has a math-and-science way of thinking.) Yet his compositions are always clear and organized, and when they’re making references to folklore, they keep the feeling of dance in them.
The number three, incidentally, has no other significance than the three panderos. Mr. Zenón laughed at the notion that it could signify the trinity. “When I write anything, I need something concrete to help me, something outside of music,” he explained. “On another project it might be letters.”
After the shows at the Jazz Gallery Mr. Zenón will record “Esta Plena” for his next album. And — given the financial freedom of the MacArthur award — then what?
He has an idea. Recently, he said, he was watching the documentary “Heima,” about how the Icelandic rock band Sigur Ros thanked the fans in its home country by playing an unusual series of free concerts: in factories, small-town community centers and even in fields and caves. Mr. Zenón said he got the urge to do something similar in Puerto Rico, particularly in small towns and mountainside areas where jazz is almost never heard.
It could make a difference, he said, to play jazz of the sturdiest sort; not his own, but music by Charlie Parker or John Coltrane or Miles Davis. He might also talk to audiences about improvising, play them records, offer clinics.
“When I grew up there,” he said, “there wasn’t really any live jazz. It was usually background music, and it was always the same eight or nine guys in San Juan. So I saw this movie, and I started thinking: man, if I could do that, just play the music, without having to worry about the business part — tickets, publicity, who’s going to pay the guys, are enough people going to show up — it would be incredible.”
Friday, December 5, 2008
Soon after the Taller got rolling, the newly renovated Planetarium, part of the American Museum of Natural History, opened to rave reviews for its design. Dubbed the Rose Center, the Museum began a Jazz series called Starry Nights in which some of the true luminaries in Jazz were featured in this wonderful setting. It was common to find people like Ray Barretto, Dave Valentin or Danilo Perez playing the room. So here we were, Friday night in NY....Starry Nights, two sets of music between 5:30PM and 7:30PM and Mappy's kicking off about 10PM. What to do with those extra 2 1/2 hours; El Malecon! Now the Rose Center is on 81 St. and Amsterdam and the Taller, 104th and B'way. El Malecon is on 97th St and Amsterdam Ave. Now we never use these pages to really plug any establishments, but for the sake of this tale, I'm going to plug the Malecon. It is perhaps one of the finest restaurants, featuring Caribbean cuisine, in the city. The place is small but lively, the service is great, the food is even better and a wonderful time is always had by all.
Several videos, one featuring Ray at the Rose Center and another featuring Mark Weinstein at the Taller have already been posted in the blog. Expect much more in the future. These Friday night outings of ours lasted for several years and we were thrilled by many spectacular performances by a myriad of artists of the highest caliber. The Taller has long since ceased their series and Starry Nights continues in an abbreviated form. We were lucky to catch it in its hey days. Willie
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
A musician’s perspective is their unique view of the world, shaped by their life and shared through music. Life experiences shape a musician’s perspective in many ways; every event in a musician’s life has an effect on their overall perception of the world. Upbringing, ritual, and tradition all foster a musician’s cultural perceptions, and the value that they place upon their heritage. Exposure to other lives and beliefs can expand an individual’s perspective, helping them look at the world through another person’s eyes. As musicians translate their perspective into sound, that worldview, background, and exposure shines through their compositions...
Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
From the ZDB website:
On Halloween Night, come and dance to the beats of ZDB 7 @ Gonzalez & Gonzalez on Oct. 31st,. @ 11:30 p.m. when we take the stage in costume. G&G is located @ 625 B'way & Lafayette Streets, there's a free salsa dance lesson @ 10 p.m. a full bar and great Mexican food
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
First World starts out with "Mafranbingo", a great straight ahead Joe Ford arrangement a la Fort Apache. "La Buena Noche Mi Ngo", a Palo tune with Pedro Morejon singing the gallo part and Eddie Bobe and Steve on coro. "Once I Loved", is a great vocal jazz tune, which is followed by "El Nino Rey", a standard in the world of rumba which features the voice of Eddie Bobe and Julito Collazo on Iya. "Talkin' to Myself", is basically Steve conversing with himself through various percussion instruments. "Iremowire", a guiro with Julito Collazo serving as akpwon and playing agbe. "Uranus" is another great tune which fluctuates between straight ahead jazz and rumba, the pianist is not listed but I'd bet money that Larry Willis is at the helm on this one. "Brushin It" is another Steve solo tune, but this time on 3 snare drums and brushes. "Once in a While", a bolero features Freddy Cole on vocals. "Alamofije" a columbia with the late great Julito on lead vocals features Steve on quinto and Eddie Bobe on tres dos. "Deja Voodoo" is a short guiro interlude to "Dale" a rumba with Eddie Bobe on lead vocals and Papo Vasquez on trombone. "Lonely Woman/Acolona" is Ornette Coleman meets bata, with Julito on iya, Steve on itotele, Eddie Bobe on okonkolo, John Benitiez on bass, Eddie Henderson, Joe Ford, Peter Brainin, Papo Vazquez on horns. "Wild Is the Wind" another great smooth jazz tune features a great piano intro by Larry Willis. "Son Bacheche" ends the album with a short Comparsa Santiaguera.
As you can see this is not your typical "latin jazz" album but rather a day in the life of Steve Berrios, percussionist par excellence. Steve has played with the who's who, and can pretty much play everything in the world of latin and jazz percussion. He plays bata, rumba, classical percussion, traps, palo, guiro, brazilian, he even sings. Willie has played some Palo gigs with Steve and if I may quote him, "Steve can play more with one hand than most can play with two."
Do yourself a favor and get this cd. Price is no excuse since Amazon is selling this album so cheap that it can't be legal.
I am going to leave you with a Steve Berrios quote from an article that Eddie Bobe wrote for Descarga.
(Steve, Photo Credit: Steve Berrios)
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Click on the pic to download the article.
(Club Cubano Interamericano, Picture Credit: Herencia Latina)
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
The Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund of the New York Community Trust provides support for talented, culturally diverse young people who are seriously dedicated to a career in the arts. Meet The Composer administers the Van Lier Fellowship on behalf of the Van Lier Fund of the New York Community Trust.
The purpose of the Fellowship is to provide financial support for young composers in the early stages of their careers, working in any style of music or sound art. Funds can be used for any purpose including the creation of new work, the purchasing of music/tech equipment, travel, or research and development.
The Fellowship is open to African-American and Latino composers thirty-two years of age or younger. The applicant must be a full-time resident of New York City (any borough) and show financial need. The applicant must not be enrolled in a degree-granting program at the time of application (i.e. no students). The one-year fellowship award is $8,500. Additional monetary support will be provided if the composer develops and participates in an educational outreach program with students and/or youth groups. This educational component is optional.
The next deadline for applications is December 8, 2008.
Download the guidelines and application here »
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
As it pertains to STREET LEVEL PRODUCTIONS, we realize that the word "production" carries with it connotations that can be misconstrued as having to do with business. SLP was formed by Alfie Alvarado and I to promote a cable access TV show for Manhattan Neighborhood Network. The show was called CLAVE CITY and ran for several years. Alfie and I spent hour after hour in both pre and post production as well as attending every musical event we possibly could to build up an archive of material to present on our show. There was absolutely NO monetary compensation for any of this. We were solely motivated by our passion for the music.
The history of SLP is an interesting one. Both Alfie and I found ourselves attending a class entitled "The History Of Latin Music" at CCNY. The professor was none other then the truly GREAT woodwind player Ray Santos. Ray is one of a few lucky musicians that can say he played with the Big Three, Machito and both Titos, Rodriguez and Puente! Needless to say I was in 7th heaven. Several of us in the class became buddies. Alfie, Mike Mena and I began to hang after class at places like Gonzalez and Gonzalez. One day Alfie approached me about taking a video production class and it sounded great. However when I read the syllabus, students were required to attend Saturday morning class down on Hudson and Franklyn streets. Not only did I live in the Bronx, I was working full time, carrying several other classes, had family obligations and time was extremely precious. I balked at the prospect. Then Alfie said the magic words...the class was worth 8 credits. We signed up immediately. As a musician I can't tell you how many times I was playing and had several camcoders pointed at me and I would always ask the people filming to please sell me a copy. I can count on three fingers the number of times I got a positive response to my request. Here was an opportunity to not only document some of my own performances but to do it right. I was able to provide other musicians with copies of their performances as well. Alfie has gone on to become a professional and has had some of her work shown on both HBO and The History Channel. The footage depicts the events at the WTC. She was an eyewitness to the horror. Willie "el Ruso" Everich
*You can read this anytime you like under the "Disclaimer" link on the label tab
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Willie had the great idea of putting out this video showing Miguel Zenon with the Roberto Quintero quintet, in honor of Miguel winning the prestigious "MacArthur Genius Grant". Winning is no small feat and the grant itself is certainly very sizable, in the amount of $500,000.00 over the next five years. Hopefully this will further enable Miguel to create and develop his sound and music for our listening pleasure.
Here is the blurb:
Miguel Zenon, 31, saxophonist, New York, N.Y. Zenon creates new sounds using his native music of Puerto Rico and a variety of jazz forms as inspiration.
Check out Miguel Zenon's pic for more info about the man himself.
(Miguel on sax, Photo Credit: http://www.miguelzenon.com/)
This is part one @ Arka Lounge. Roberto is on congas and bata, brother Luisito is on traps and traditional Venezuelan tambores (culo e' puya), Luis Perdomo is on keys, and Ruben Rodriguez is on bass. Film courtesy of Willie Everich.
Part 2 coming soon...