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Pa' Ponerte en Talla
¡Cubanismo! hits the SF Jazz Center tomorrow
Concerts to run 4 nights - March 24 to 28
"History was made earlier this week when President Obama became the 2nd sitting American president to visit Cuba in nearly 90 years, and while all eyes (and ears) continue to await the results of the recent thaw in US-Cuban relations, it is clear that the Bay Area has had a long-standing love affair with Cuban music for decades." -- Pianist & Composer Rebeca Mualeón, form an interview with Jesús Alemañy of ¡Cubanismo!, performing at the SF Jazz Center this week March 24-28. Click here to read the full interview.
Jesús Alemañy & ¡Cubanismo!
March 24-27 @ the SF Jazz Center
7:30 pm every night
201 Franklin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
Click HERE for tickets
Box office 415-788-7353
¡Cubanismo! founder Jesús Alemañy came to fame as a brilliant 15-year-old trumpet player for the iconic Cuban group Sierra Maestra – the band that led to the formation of Buena Vista Social Club – and carries on in that fiery Cuban tradition. Alemañy’s all-star orchestra plays sizzling dance tunes full of swaggering horn charts and wild polyrhythms that recall the vintage big-band son sound of the 1940s and 50s, embracing traditional rumba, cha-cha, danzon and pa’ca rhythms arranged in the classic descarga, or “jam session” style. Their 1996 self-titled debut album was a global smash, listed in the Top Ten lists of Billboard, Latin Beat, and Afropop Worldwide that year. In the two decades that followed, ¡Cubanismo! have toured the world relentlessly, while releasing a series of recordings that have expanded the venerated son sound to incorporate influences from American music, in particular the swampy, second-line rhythms of New Orleans, as well as the dancehall sounds of Jamaica. Since its beginning, ¡Cubanismo! has been a proving ground for many of Cuba’s greatest young musicians including pianist Alfredo Rodríguez and bassist Carlitos del Puerto, and the current incarnation is no exception, presenting a blazing ensemble of horns, rhythm section and percussion that transforms a concert hall into a hot night in Havana.
58th Grammy Award® Nominations Announced
Photos from the Latin Grammys® (Septeto, Melón, Alain)
Septeto Santiaguero "El relevo está garantizado"
Early yesterday, the 58th Grammy Award® Nominations were announced. Latin Grammy® winners Septeto Santiaguero & José Alberto El Canario are nominated for Best Tropical Latin Album for their collaborative tribute to Cuban music icons Los Compadres (No Quiero Llanto - read our review here) and singer-songwriter Alex Cuba (real name Alexis Puentes, twin brother of Adonis Puentes) is nominated for Best Lain Pop Album. In Best Latin Jazz Album, Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba is nominated with his record "Suite Caminos". Congratulations to all the Nominees!
This follows good times in Las Vegas a few weeks ago at the 16th annual Latin Grammys. I had the pleasure of hanging out with Alden González (producer & manager) and Fernando Dewar (leader, tres) of El Septeto Santiaguero, our Beyond Salsa star and pianist extraordinaire Iván "Melón" Lewis (who was nominated for Best New Artist and Best Latin Jazz Album, and also performed in the pre-telecast) and our other Beyond Salsa star, bassist, composer, vocalist and all around virtuoso Alaín Pérez. As anyone who has visited the island and experienced the level of musicianship, it was interesting to get their viewpoints on what we were seeing and hearing at the Latin Grammy show compared to the performances in Cuba. It is a televised event after all, and it was GREAT, but my opinion is that after a while the general tendency to rely on flamboyant and pyrotechnic visual elements and stimulation starts eroding the music and sound. The Kennedy Center Honors have succeeded in staying away from this trap and continue delivering breathtaking musical performances. Also I was sad to notice that the Best Salsa Album category was removed from the telecast and into the not-televised part (the pre-telecast, now called "the premier"). We had one (1) single tropical number in the whole show. Jeez... that wasn't too cool.
One soundbyte that has stayed with me from that night -- courtesy of Alden -- is that he mentioned that "precisely now that the Buena Vista Social Club is saying goodbye to the stage, Septeto Santiaguero emerges as a world-class group, taking the very best of Cuban traditional music to every part of the world". This is a translation from a Cuban newspaper (source), that leaves out the notion of the "passing of the torch" or "passing the baton". It's much better in Spanish: "...(Alden) aprovechó para agradecer a Alain Pérez y Sonlokos -- competidores cubanos en la misma categoría -- las muestras de admiración y respeto. “Lo más importante es que se ha impuesto la música tradicional cubana y ahora, que el Buena Vista Social Club ya no estará más en los escenarios internacionales, el relevo está garantizado”. Pretty cool.
Here are some more highlights from the Latin Grammys in Las Vegas:
José Alberto El Canario accepts and thanks Alden Gozález and Fernando Dewar from El Septeto Santiaguero for their Latin Grammy Award®
Latin Grammy® nomination medals presented to El Canario, Alden and Fernando (yours truly on the far left - I had the honor of co-mixing and mastering the record)
Iván Melón Lewis performing at the Latin Grammy® Pre-Telecast
Javier Monteverde, Michael Lázarus, Iván Melón Lewis, Fernando Dewar
Con el bárbaro de los bárbaros... Latin Grammy® Nominee Alaín Pérez (left)
Latin Grammy® tickets, after-party and program materials
2015 Latin Grammy® Winner for Best Traditional Tropical Album
Early Grammy(R) Action for Cuban Artists
The 58th Grammy(R) Awards Process Is Underway
The 58th Grammy(R) Awards process began today with the release of the official Entry List to it's academy members. Thankfully, this first round ballot acknowledges some truly great records by Cuban and Cuban music artists alike.
We begin with the already 2015 Latin Grammy(R) nominated and Cubadisco Winner "No Quiero Llanto - Tributo a Los Compadres" (click to read our review), a Tropical Latin double CD collaboration between world-wide salsa star José Alberto "El Canario" and El Septeto Santiaguero. The New York Times reported "The album, which came out earlier this summer as a double CD, reupholsters old music with relentless technical perfection." Sweet.
Other notables in contention under Tropical Latin are Austin, Texas mega-timberos Timberos del Norte with their self-titled debut album, Singer Xiomara Laugar "Tears & Rumba", and Miami's Tiempo Libre "Pánamericano", Sonlokos "Locos Por El Son", and Leslie Cartaya "Llévame Contigo".
Next we move to Latin Jazz -- a notoriously fierce and culturally important category -- where a not-to-be named album of midi sequences was somehow embarrassingly included under Latin Jazz in the Latin Grammys(R) and is fortunately not present here. Said controversy was avoided. Instead, we have a story of very interesting bedfellows.
Before getting to that we begin with Pure Mezcla, a live release from Pablo Menéndez & Mezcla. The record got a shining review in All About Jazz, who called it "Rare and beautiful music." Read it here. Another musician who left their soul in Cuba is Australian saxophonist Paul Van Ross, who recorded "Mi Alma Cubana" in Havana with the participation of slamming players including master percussionist José Luis Quintana "Changuito". Next we visit NATURA, by bassist and now residing in Denmar Yasser Pino & The Latin Syndicate. Interestingly, the entry list also includes records from fellow players of his Latin Syndicate: percussionist Eliel Lazo "Eliel Lazo & The Cuban Funk Machine" (in which Yasser also performs) and drummer extraordinaire Calixto Oviedo "Como Suena". More on Calixto soon as he will play a CD release concert in New York at SUBROSA on Monday November 30. For tix and more info click here. Dang... they could form a grammy nominee band. Are we talking after-party? I hope so.
It is also important to note that one of TIMBA.com's favorite pianists -- Iván "Melón" Lewis -- who is already nominated for Best New Artist and Best Latin Jazz in this year's Latin Grammys (R), has a great record on the entry list "Ayer y Hoy". Here's a reminder why... enjoy!
More Grammy(R) news to come as we dig deeper into the list and report on other notable entries. ¡Que viva la música cubana!