Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Tonight drummer Paul Miranda is running the Queen Annne jam session at the Paragon. Paul is also a regular host of the darrell's monster jam on Sunday evenings.
The paragon is at 2125 Queen Anne Ave N in Seattle
Start time is 9:30pm

Friday, October 03, 2014

The Amazing Journey of Filo Machado

Filo Michado (with grand-son Felipe) and Jovino Santos Neto
Wednesday Oct 8th, 7:30pm
The Triple Door $25
Filo Machado
Felipe and Filo Machado
Filo Machado will be coming to Seattle for a very rare appearance here, at the Triple Door, Wed Oct 8, brought by the Brazilian Nights Series co-produced by Produced by Giordano Productions, LLC, the Honorary Brazilian Consulate in Seattle and Morningsong Productions.

I was going to recount some of Filo's overwhelming bio here, but due to space considerations we'll  stick with the short version:  Filó  has performed all over the world including Carnegie Hall. He's been in many Jazz festivals, as well, such as Pescara, Barquisimeto, Maranhão, Ceará, etc. Between albums and concerts, he's being part of duets with Michel Legrand, Romero Lubambo, Cesar Camargo Mariano, João Donato, Djavan, etc. His most recent tours include Moscow, Ukraine and Japan. He is now touring the NW for the first time with his grandson - prodigy 11-year old Felipe.

He will be backed at the Triple Door by Seattle's own Brazilian music luminary, Jovino Santos Neto performing a delicious solo piano set for us. I can't think of a more incredible line-up, to be honest. Combined with the Triple Door's awesome sound system and great food and service, we're in for quite an evening!

Filo graciously granted me an interview soon after his arrival in Seattle, and I was in for a recount of a very moving story of Filo's amazing journey through music and life.

Filo Machado was born in Ribeirão Preto, located in Brazilian state of Sâo Paulo, of course the same state of Brazil as Sâo Paulo city. His father was a musician who played the the tenor guitar, a 4-string Brazilian guitar. Filo relates being 5 years old and sitting between his fathers knees, while his father helped him hold the guitar and worked with his fingers on the fretboard to learn songs. It was the beginning of a father-son musical mentorship that would end, tragically, all too soon, but would nevertheless launch Filo on a lifelong quest to learn and perform music. It is a journey that would land him in USA, Japan, Europe, as well as Brazil, performing with the top jazz and Brazilian artists of today, as well as becoming one of those top artists himself.

I arrive at the home of Adriana Giordano, herself an accomplished singer from Sâo Paulo, who has helped put together the wonderful Brazilian Nights series at the Triple Door in Seattle. Filo Machado is the third and final international artist being presented this year through the program, which Adriana hopes to continue in 2015 and bring more great Brazilian artists to Seattle.

Filo and his grand-son Felipe, whom Filo is mentoring on guitar and vocal, are in the living room, Felipe copying his grand-dad's moves on guitar while learning a new bossa nova song. Felipe, at the tender age of 11 years, is turning out to be quite a musical prodigy himself, and often sits in on a few songs with his grandpa during performances. Between the two of them, it's a 1-2 knockout punch. As if it is not enough to be overwhelmed by Filo's virtuosity, Felipe, follows up with a yet another stunning display of musical genius.
Felipe Machado at Egan's
The chemistry between them has a natural, easy flow. Even though it's Grandpa teaching his grandchild, it has the feel of two old friends sharing music and enjoying each other's company. Since Filo's English is still in the beginning stages, Adriana agrees to interpret. Also, I decide to break the ice with music - we play a jazz song together. Then instruments are set aside and Filo relates his amazing, and at times heartbreaking, story.

The story begins with an early heartbreak: his mentorship with his own father was not to last more than a few months. Filo recounts finding his father laying on the floor of their home one day, with his mother leaning over him, trying to give his father a drink of water. Filo's father was in the midst of a heart-attack that would prove fatal, and died there on the floor while 5-year old Filo and his mother watched helplessly. It was the beginning of a difficult childhood marred by additional tragedy later on.

Filo's mother had the vision to encourage Filo to continue to learn and play music after his father's passing. Filo's learning was unorthodox and largely self-taught. He would attend musical performances, and after the shows, approach the musicians and ask them to give him some musical knowledge - write down a song, teach him a song on the spot, or tell him something to help his musical progress. Then Filo would take these tidbits home, and study them with his guitar and voice. In this way, Filo tells me, he did not just have a single musical mentor, but the whole world became his mentor. He tried to learn music from all the musicians he met, and also listening to the radio and trying to pick out the songs and play along. Later he would use recordings and tapes to play the songs he wanted to learn. In this way, he was teaching himself American jazz as well as the Brazilian popular music of the time (that body of music, comprising many of Brazil's greatest bossas and popular sambas, is nowadays called MPB).

Filo had 5 brothers, and his mother, and they struggled to make a living in Sâo Paulo in the late 1950's and early 1960's. Filo's contribution was to make some money for the family by performing music, and at the age of 11 was already performing in venues to make money.

Fate was to deal Filo and his brothers another cruel blow when his mother became ill and passed away during Filo's teenage years.  Before reaching adulthood, Filo had watched both his parents die in front of him. Nothing was left for him except his brothers, himself and the music. He was moved into a hotel in Sâo Paulo, and continued practicing and performing music all his waking hours to survive.

He began to become known around Sâo Paulo and in Brazil during the period when Bossa Nova exploded onto the scene - a time of political turbulence and social revolution during which the now-famous composers of the Bossa Nova and Brazilian jazz movements would forge their identities and bring out the songs that would become iconic of the style.

He relates that a key turning point in his career is when he first came to America and was able to collaborate with the brilliant jazz pianist Kenny Barron. He recorded an album in the USA, "Cantando um Samba" which was  nominated in 2001 for a Latin jazz Grammy and received rave reviews in Down Beat, Jazziz, Jazz Now and Rhythm and other newspapers and magazines. He was invited to perform at the historic 9/11 memorial concert at Carnegie Hall in October 2001 and shared the stage with all the great musical luminaries in that show.

From there, he was able to tour with and meet many other famous musicians, and build a musical resume of performing with, or being billed on the ticket with, a list of musicians that reads pretty much like a who's- who in the world of Jazz and Brazilian music. If they have achieved fame in these styles of music, the chances are good that Filo has performed on the bill with them.

Filo is bringing his musical virtuosity, and that of his grand-son Felipe to the Triple Door on Wednesday, Oct 8th in a not-to-be- missed show that also features Seattle's resident Brazilian music superstar Jovino Santos Neto. It turns out that Filo and Jovino have known each other for about 4 decades, dating back to the time when a very young Jovino was beginning his musical apprenticeship with the legendary Hermeto Pascoal in Rio.

After the interview and  a sumptuous dinner courtesy of Filo's welcoming daughter Camila (who is also Felipe's mother and their producer), we head over to Egan's Ballard Jamhouse, where we meet trumpeter and band leader Bobby Medina, who is previewing his recent work. Bobby graciously invites Filo and Felipe to perform a couple of songs. Of course, everyone's jaw drops and the cameras come out. It's the perfect plug for the show on next Wednesday at the Triple Door. In fact, I can't think of a better way to spend a musical evening than with this virtuoso Grandfather-grandson team of Filo and Felipe Machado.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Harvey Wainapel's fabulous "Amigos Brasileiros" project Comes to Seattle

Harvey Wainapel
CD Artwork by Menote Cordeiro

Harvey Weinapel - Composer, Reeds Player, Brazilan and American Jazz
Premiering live the pieces from his new CD " Amigos Brasileiros Vol 2".
In Seattle at the Royal Room, Tuesday Oct 7 8pm appearing with special guests the Jovinos Santos Neto Quarteto.
website http://www.harvjazz.com CDs can be purchased through the website

Harvey Wainapel is a highy accomplished reeds player and composer originally trained in American jazz and who has developed a lifelong passion for Brazilian music. He made the choice to seriously study music by enrolling, in the year 1971, in the Berklee College of music in Boston, which at that time was one of the first collegiate-level jazz schools. The early 70's were an exciting time for jazz, as it was bursting at the seams with all kinds of new explorations. He began playing with the top artists of the day, and he hasn't looked back. He refers to himself as a "late bloomer", but to be honest, he has had what anyone who keeps up with the music would regard a stellar career - at least by jazz standards these days. Although he's not (yet) a household name, he regularly travels the world not only performing with the greatest artists, but commanding such a level of respect that he can call the top artists to be contributors to his own project. This is exactly what his current music project is - called " Amigos Brasileiros". Now on vol 2, it's Harvey calling his many Brazilian musical friends to collaborate on nine gorgeous tunes, each one with a story of how the song came to be in the accompanying booklet.

The CD Amigos Brasileiros Vol 2 is a continuation of Harvey's exploration of the rhythms and musical traditions of Brazil. He has a vision to continue the work of this very organically-grown music project. The whole process is unusual for a CD. Rather than thinking "I want to make a CD, I'll compose some songs, call the guys to the studio and bang it out" - the usual process -  Amigos Brasileiros is actually a "by-product" in the sense that the recordings spring out of musical friendships and trips to Brazil to connect with his musical friends. This gives the CD, and indeed the shows themselves a rich feeling that the listener is participating in a kind of musical community, not just listening to the compositions. But don't worry, these strong compositions do indeed stand totally on their own. 

It's an ambitious project. The songs are recorded in 4 different studios in Brazil, and one in the USA. Each piece has a different lineup of musicians reflecting the diverse locations (although a few of the musicians do appear on more than one piece).  The musicians are all highly respected, and in some cases, famous beyond the universe of Brazilian jazz fans as well.  Which is to say, there's a consistent standard of top notch performances on  Amigos Brasileiros.

The artwork, by Brazilian artist Menote Cordeiro is also very engaging, and true to the spirit of Brazilian music, colorful and fun. Getting good, original artwork onto a CD in a way that makes you want to look at the artwork on its own, is an accomplishment in itself. The CD contains a no-less than 8-page booklet (printed both front and back for 16 total pages of content) and four full pages are devoted completely to original artwork, plus inset pieces on other pages.

Two full pages are devoted to 22 photos of all the participating musicians, from solo shots to duets, small ensembles and a small Brazilian orchestra. There are over forty musicians on this CD (a dozen from the Orquestra Retratos do Nordeste, of Recife, led by professor/composer/mandolinist Marco Cesar). Of course, I cannot possibly list them all here (and still keep your attention), which is a shame, because Harvey performs with some of Brazil's greatest known (and unknown) talent.

In Seattle at the Royal Room, Harvey will be playing with the fabulous group of Jovino Santos Neto, the world-famous pianist and educator at Cornish School of Music. Harvey has a 10-year long musical friendship with Jovino, and many Brazilian jazz fans in Seattle have had the pleasure of seeing Harvey perform on numerous occasions with Jovino in the past few years. All in all, it's shaping up to be a great re-union of the two maestros for the Seattle premiere of Harvey's new material.
Harvey Wainapel and Jovino Santos Neto

Anyway, let's hear from Harvey! He graciously took the time out of his crazy performance schedule to reply to a few questions.

This CD is a very ambitious project - it involves connecting, rehearsing  and recording with many different musicians in several different locations on two continents - how did you pull the project together - what obstacles did you face in creating this work?
--The process was very exciting, actually;  the fact that I had no deadline really helped! (Vol 2 took about 6 years to complete.) Each song that I recorded became a part of the bigger picture, that is, my desire to showcase a wide variety of rhythms and styles, so as the tracks started accumulating, at a certain point I knew, for example "no more choros on this album."

Although obviously grounded in American jazz and classical, you have devoted a large chunk of your life to the music and styles of Brazil. What brought that about - in other words, how is it that you came to love the music of Brazil so much? What experiences launched you down this path?
--This happened almost by chance, many years ago when I first moved to NYC (late 70's). I joined a 6-horn Brazilian group that played once a week, with some really fantastic players, such as trumpeter Claudio Roditi and drummer Duduka da Fonseca. Although I had already been exposed to the music of Airto & Flora from their stint in Chick Cora's group, actually playing the music every week really sealed the deal for me! And like most people, once you get bitten by that "mosquito," you don't recover (nor do you want to!). Many years later I was thrilled to tour internationally with Airto & Flora, as their "part time saxophonist!" Just played last week with Airto & "Eyedentity" at Yoshi's in Oakland CA.

What's the plan from here on out? Touring? More recording? What is your vision for where you'd like to take this music?
--Well, as you know, I'm on tour right now in your neighborhood, showcasing the new CD, with the help of my dear old friends the Jovino Santos Neto Quarteto  (I was a member of the Quinteto for more than a decade; I miss playing and hanging with these great players, we are going to have a LOT of fun!!) Shortly after I return to California, I'm heading back to Brazil for 6 weeks. I'll be playing a fair amount, but if I have time I might start to work on "Volume 3!" I already have some ideas....and I do hope to be able to present concerts in other parts of the USA, the CDs are really about spreading the word about some of the great talents living in Brazil who don't get the media attention they deserve...Besides all that, I hope to continue with my jazz work, I'll never abandon that -- I've got two lovers, man!

How can readers/ listeners find you and your music - what stores, where online, how to keep up with your performance schedule? What are the next concerts you'd like us to know about?
-- The best bet for all of that is www.harvjazz.com ...all my CDs are for sale there (via CD Baby, which by far gives artists the best treatment financially) and I will try to keep the gig listings up to date. There are also a lot of really fun sound & video clips there of stuff I've been lucky enough to do over the years...

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Abrace - "Embracing the World Through Music"

Abrace,  L to R: Derek Learned, Mikaela Romero, Angie Bolton, Samia Panni, Joyce Yarrow, Rebeqa Rivers
Abrace is an acapella-plus-percussion singing group which has made it their mission to find, harmonize and perform folk songs from around the world in a context of peace, love, acceptance, and celebration of all the world's peoples and cultures. Committed to performing the songs in their original languages, they currently sing in 20 different languages and dialects.

Abrace is comprised of five excellent women vocalists and a top percussionist from the Seattle area. They have performed in Seattle' St Mark's Cathedral, The San Juan De Fuca Arts Festival, the Bellevue Arts Fair, the Seattle Art Museum, The Northwest Folklife Festival, Seattle's Benaroya Hall, and many other venues.

Co-lead by Samia Panni and Joyce Yarrow, the group includes singers Rebeqa Rivers, Angie Bolton, and Mikaela Romero, and the percussion duties are anchored by Derek Learned.

The treatment of the songs is done with great precision and care, as five-part harmonies are carefully worked out and Samia and Derek work together to creat a unique percussion groove for each song. As mentioned, they also have to learn to enunciate each song properly in it's original language, and there is a history that goes with each song, so it means doing  research on the story/history of the song and the culture each song arises from.

I caught them at the Bellevue Arts Fair on July 26th. Samia and Joyce were gracious to grant me an interview, so I will let them speak about the band in their own words. For myself, I have seen them perform three times, and I am always impressed not only by the musicianship, but the spirit with which they recreate these songs.

So, without further adieu, the interview:

What is the inspiration for Abrace? How did you go about translating that inspiration into the actual group that I saw at the BAM Arts Fair?

Joyce:  We started out as a study group – 4 professional singers who wanted to expand their repertoires to include songs in many languages and challenge themselves to grow musically.

After 9/11, when the world tilted radically toward intolerance, we felt that a group performing world music could help build bridges to inter-cultural understanding. At that point we became more serious about performing in public, especially at inter-faith events. Since then, we have appeared at music festivals throughout the Northwest, as well as Benaroya Hall, and the Rainier Valley Cultural Center. One highpoint was sharing the stage with a Rabbi, Bishop and an Imam  who participated in an ‘Islamophobia’ conference at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle. It was so inspiring to see people of different faiths come together to erase misunderstandings and grow friendships.

Samia - Another highpoint I would like to add is our World Music & Dance of Peace concerts that we performed at three events, one being Arts Gumbo,at the Rainier Valley Cultural Center, in collaboration with members of MB Orchestra, George Sadak and Maurice Sadak Rouman, Brazilian dancer, Dora Oliveira,  and Middle Eastern dance ethnologist, Helene Ericksen.  I truly enjoyed rearranging a song in our repertoire in order of blend music of different cultures for these performances. For example: we took a Brazilian song, Zanzibar, in the baião rhythm and George suggested incorporating a Saudi Arabian rhythm, called khaleeji, which fit perfectly. Maurice played the introduction to Zanzibar on oud.  The blend was seamless.

What do you see Abrace's role being in the universe of world music i.e - what would Abrace's "mission statement" be like? How would you like the audience to be affected by your music? Is Abrace just about the music only, or is there a connection to, or a message about, the world we live in?

Joyce - Abráce means ‘embrace’ in Portuguese, and our motto is simple: ‘Embracing the World Through Music.”  Some of our songs convey a message – such as “Bring Peace Upon Us,” written and performed by a group of courageous Palestinian and Israeli musicians. We also sing in Ladino, a language mixing Hebrew and Spanish that was developed during La Convivencia – an era when Muslims, Jews and Christians lived in relative peace. We look for positive, international connections wherever we can find them and often create medleys – for example, by combining the South African freedom song “Siph’ Amandla” with the American classic “The Storm is Passing Over,” written by the composer of We Shall Overcome.

Our production of World Music and Dance of Peace concert brought together musicians and dancers from many different backgrounds to create a border-bending mix of music and dance from Middle Eastern, Balkan, African and South American roots. This is the type of collaborative energy that we believe peace is built upon.

Abrace sings in 20 languages, many of them tribal or clan dialects. How do you find the songs? How do you go about translating the lyrics so you understand the meaning of each song? How do you make sure your pronunciation is accurate in so many different languages? Given that song lyrics often incorporate metaphors and idioms unique to the composer's culture, do you have to study a bit about each ethnic group to understand the cultural context and deeper meanings of a particular song's lyrics?

Samia -  When a new member has started with the group, we have asked them to bring in songs that they want to sing.  Therefore, a number of the songs in our repertoire have come from former and current members of the group.  Ben Black introduced us to our Japanese song, Kojo No Tsuki, Makala recently introduced us to a Polish song we recently added to our repertoire and Joyce brought our new Bengali song, Bhromor Koiyo Giya.  The Arab-Israeli peace song I found one day simply hunting on youtube, using keywords to find a song in Arabic that we could append to our Ladino song that Joyce received from a Jewish cantor.  As you see our songs have been added through various sources from all the members of the group, plus we have original compositions, such as "Saltando" that Joyce and I composed.

Regarding translations, we have been lucky to find translations online or the member who brings us the song manages to find translations.

In regards to the pronunciation, I have lived in so many countries and been exposed to so many languages when I was young thanks to being part of the diplomatic world and my anthropological studies that I am familiar with how things should be pronounced.  We also research proper pronunciation through various online and recorded resources.

I enjoy ethnomusicological research, so I will often seek out the origin, deeper meanings and cultural context of our songs, as have other members of the group.

Who is in the group? What do you see as each member's unique contribution to the group?

Joyce -Abráce includes vocalists Samia Panni, Joyce Yarrow, Makala Wengelewski-Romero, Rebeqa Rivers, and Angie Bolton – as well as percussionist Derek Learned. All of us contribute ideas and new material to the group and since we create our own song arrangements, we each bring unique ideas to the mix. Samia acts as is our ‘pronunciation police,” and her anthropological background often provides fascinating details about a song’s origins and meanings.

What's next for Abrace? What concerts do you have in the works? Are you working on a CD project? Where do we find your music?

We are currently developing a new thematic concept – freedom songs from around the world –  and expanding our repertoire in that direction. We have produced a Drop Card with 6  ‘downloadable’ songs that is for sale at our performances, but no CD as yet. Our music comes from everywhichwhere -  people send us suggestions, audience members make requests or an Abráce member decides to dig further into her (or his) background. Recently some Turkish friends came over to the studio and taught us a song sung during the demonstrations to save Gezi Park in Istanbul.

For more on Abrace:

Our FB page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Abr%C3%A1ce/117949546247
Reverbnation player with our music: http://www.reverbnation.com/abr%C3%A1ce
To request a download card of Abrace's music email Joyce at – jyarrow@seanet.com

Monday, June 30, 2014

Review: African Music Summit in Seattle June 28th 2014

On Saturday Night, June 28th 2014, Seattle was treated to a rare and outstanding taste of world class African music, put on by Abdul Ndiaye and African friends of the musicians in Seattle. They held it at the Washington Hall in the Central District. It was a wonderful event, with the musicians on the ballroom stage, and food and beverages being available to the concert attendees.

The featured country at this event was Guinea, West Africa. A number of highly talented Guinean musicians live in Seattle, and Abdul was able to bring in two world famous musicians from Guinea, triple Juno Award winning Alpha Yaya Diallo, and Prince Diabate, master of the Kora, a 21-stringed instrument whose sound falls somewhere between the sonic territory of a harp and a guitar.

We were privy to five performances by Comfort Food Afro-Jazz Group, Naby Camara's Lugni Sussu, Price Diabete and Group, Alpha Yaya Diallo, and Eduard Suarez and Atlantic Melody (who invited some of the other Guinean musicians up for a grand-finale set to end the evening).

First was the Afro-jazz Fusion band Comfort Food, led by multi-instrumentalist Bob Antolin. In full disclosure here, as the keyboards player for Comfort Food, I cannot review the band's performance. Suffice it to say we were quite well received. Other band members were Jaimun Crunk on guitar, Paul Huppler on drumset, and Lennox Holness on bass. Making a guest appearance with us was master percussionist Thione Diop.

Next up was Lugni Sussu the traditional Guinean Band of Balafon maestro Naby Camara. Naby asked me to join the group on a couple of songs, as he and I have a history together doing piano/balafon duet performances. The balafon is the African xylophone, made of wood and gourds. It is a xylophone - not a marimba - and the sticking techniques and patterns are different from Zimbabwean marimba patterns. The approach to the balafon is more like a jazz vibraphone player, as opposed to a marimba player. The dance floor filled up pretty quickly, as Naby is a world-renowned master of the instrument, and gets people hopping when he plays. Besides me as a guest, joining Naby was Karim Koumbassa on doundounba, Abdullaye Silla, and Eduard Suarin on Djembes. All instruments besides my keyboard (which I set to the xylophone setting to better blend in, and played accompaniment patterns taught to me by Naby) were traditional, acoustic West African instruments.

Next up was the world-traveling, renowned Prince Diabate. Beyond being a master of the kora, Prince Diabate has blown open the musical territory traditionally covered by the kora. His original music is genre-defying, and he stands out like a true guitar hero during his performances. He also had a band full of fantastic musicians, and , like Naby, used traditional African percussion, djun-djun and djembe, instead of a drumset. In addition to his instrumental genius, Prince has a powerful voice that gives his compositions an emotional edge. He definitely brought the people together during his set, again rousing the attendees out of their seats to dance and gather at the stage. Prince's band included Becky Allen on vocals, flutes & gongoman; Bruno Coon on guitar; Brady Millard-Kish on bass; Abdoulaye Silla on djembe & Karim Koumbassa on doundounba w/ Thione Diop as special guest on tama (aka "talking drum").

Here's a youtube of part of the performance: Prince Diabate at Africa Music Summit Seattle
And pix:

Pushing the envelope of mind-blowing talent even further, the next band was Alpha Yaya Diallo's three-time Canadian Juno Award winning band. The Juno is the Canadian equivalent of an American Grammy going to the Vancouver -BC resident. Like Prince Diabate, Alpha regularly tours the world, and Naby Camara is actually in Alpha's band as well. He was joined on drumset by master drummer Eduard Suarez, Seattle resident and former member of the famous Bembaya Jazz group of the 1970s, and bassist Vegari Cendar. And as a special guest, sitting in on percussion was Ibrahim Camara of Senegal, an acknowledged master who was attending the show. Alpha does originals and traditional Guinean songs as well. He has an incredible guitar picking style, in which the guitar mimics patterns that might be played on the balafon. These kind of accompaniment patterns are also typical of the mbira (African thumb piano) as well. Where a western guitarist might try to find the chords, the Guinean/West African style arppegiates the chords in a picking style, interspersed with scale runs similar to what a balafonist might play.

Alpha's band is simply phenomenal. Although he is not as well-known as artists like Baaba Maal and Selif Keita, I would definitely put his band on the level with those top-tier groups. A joy from start to finish. And since all the members were also from Guinea, the band locked in together in a way that only happens when you have a group made up of musicians that are all acknowledged masters themselves, that have all grown up in the same tradition from the same culture, and that have played together a lot over the decades. Every song was immaculately performed, and every solo by every bandmember raised cheers from the crowd. Every note a treasure, from start to finish. I have seen Alpha's band on a number of occasions, and it's always like this - consistently the best. No wonder they keep giving him Junos.

For a taste of what this was like, here's a youtube of Alpha performing with Prince Diabate and with Naby on the balafon in Montreal: Alpha Yaya Diallo, Prince Diabate, and Naby Camara in Montreal
And Pix from the Seattle Summit:

The finale set was billed as drummer Eduard Suarez's Atlantic Melody Band. Eduard has been playing professionally sine the late 1960s, and he was a member of the seminal Bembaya Jazz group coming out of West Africa in the 1970s, a group that was pioneering a new African international sound at the same time Fela Kuti and King Sunny Ade would have been developing Afrobeat in Nigeria.

What actually happened, very organically, because so many of the musicians were from Guinea, is that Atlantic melody's set became like a re-union set for all the Guinean musicians. Alpha and Prince Diabate joined the set, and Naby, again, is a band member also of Atlantic Melody. Often Eduard sings from behind the drums, but in this case they brought in Seattle drummer Jamael Nance, maestro of jazz, soul, and world music drumming, and again, Ibrahim Camara sat in adding his expertise on African percussion as well. Comfort Food's bassist Lennox Holness, and Seattle guitarist Leif Totusek also lended their talents to the group.

The show was quite an amazing musical experience. Abdul Ndiaye, the organizer is hoping to organize another African Music Summit again next year. So let's keep our eyes open for the next one!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

I am a writer for Damngood Tunes magazine now

I am now on the writing staff at the online Damngood Tunes magazine edited by Bruce Meier. He has been doing DGT for over 10 years and was one of the first magazines to review my music and interview me several years ago. He himself is an accomplished musician. He has taken DGT from humble beginnings in the small town of Chehalis WA, expanded his reach through the Pacific Northwest, then into Nashville TN, and nationally.
Now he wants to have an international presence in the magazine, and I am part of that initiative. I will be bringing reviews of world music, interviews with international musicians, and reviews of their music to the pages of DGT. I am excited about it. Here's their current issue homepage. Scroll down to the right and you'll see my introduction to the magazine there. http://www.damngoodtunes.com/home.html
They have also publicized the upcoming Africa Music Summit, which one of my bands, Comfort Food will be apart of coming on June 28th to Seattle.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Review: Seattle Women in Jazz - Latin Jazz Night

Last Thursday night the Seattle Women In Jazz festival kicked off at the Columbia City Theater with a special presentation focusing on Latin Jazz styles. The festival is the brainchild of promoter/producer Jessica Davis working closely with her assistant Director Kendra Aguilar and a small but tremendously hard-working staff. This is the second year of the festival, and if opening night was any indicator, the Seattle Women in Jazz Festival could be become a mainstay of the Seattle music festival scene if Ms Davis and crew continue on next year and beyond. The show was emceed by KPLU's Robin Lloyd, herself of course another hard-working woman making an impact on the Seattle Jazz scene though her work with the well-established jazz-advocating Tacoma-based radio station.

Anyway, on to the music: The actual Latin jazz show was warmed up in the front bar with Jazz/R&B singer Tena Duberry singing faves from that genre. I have to say that Tena is one of Seattle's hidden gems of a performer. She migrated for some years to Washington DC where she did quite well, even performing in venues such as the Kennedy Center there. Back in Seattle, she has been having an unfortunate battle with some health issues, but she informed me that her doctors expect her to be able to return to a more vigorous performance schedule by the summer. That's good news for us, because she is certainly a strong talent to add to the scene here. Memorable for me were the way she brought down the house with very deep and soulful renditions of the the Roberta Flack song "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" and her final song of the night, Oleta Adam's "Get Here If You Can". But it wasn't just power ballads in her repertoire that moved people. She also got us all up and going with party songs such as Patti LaBelle's "Lady Marmalade". I was delighted to find that I had already seen a great show even before the main event began.

Moving into the theater itself we were greeted by The Entremundos Band fronted by Brazilian songstress Adriana Giordano. Adriana, originally of Sao Paulo, Brazil, took Seattle by surprise about 2 years ago when she left her "day job" and decided to go for it as a singer. Originally performing mostly for the Brazilian ex-pat community here, with the support of pianists such as Jovino Santos Neto and Eric Verlinde, she was soon gigging all over town to the entire jazz/world music community in venues such as Tulas and the Royal Room.

But Adriana and crew scored their first big goal by deciding to host a jam session every Monday night. Originally booked as a world music jam session, it quickly outgrew any genre-labeling, and became one of Seattle' most successful jam sessions where you could hear everything from salsa jazz and bossa nova to James Brown, jazz standards, and down-home blues. They renamed the session "Entremundos", and Entremundos has outlasted three venues so far and is now filling up the Capitol Cider's music room every Monday. Hey, everybody, Adriana is on the map of Seattle!

Besides Adriana, the Entremundos band consists of virtuoso pianist Eric Verlinde, top-tier Brazilian drum stylist Jeff Busch, local percussion powerhouse Ernesto Pediangco, and tonight were we seeing bassist Tim Carey and additional percussionist Edson Otero, sitting in while waiting to perform next with Clave Gringa.

Dance Instructor Aileen Panke of Bahia in Motion was there to guide us through several different samba dance moves, and this gave the dancers among the audience a nice boost to the performance as well.

From beginning to end, they rocked the house. They do a very high energy rendition of the famous samba jazz song "Berimbau" (named after the aboriginal Brazilian instrument fashioned from a bow-and-arrow). That was their second song and from that point on, the house was theirs. There was not a wink link in the lot, and all instrumentalists wowed us with numerous outstanding solo spots as the show progressed. Of course they were brought back for an encore, and in what has become a signature of the band's performance style, they add humor to the show by finding old standard songs that they pull off the cuff and wrap their shows with a great light touch at the end. This time, it was a rendition of "Dream A Little Dream of Me", special for Valentines day, and featuring a chorus of Adriana on the kazoo, which, along with the Brazilian nose-whistle, has become a favorite toy she whips out at opportune moments during the shows.

The third and final show of the evening was pianist Ann Reynolds' Cuban Jazz group, called Clave Gringa, an obvious self-reference highlighting the fact that, yes, there are great women instrumentalists in Afro-Cuban music, a genre that has many famous women singers, but not many famous women instrumentalists. Ann plans on changing that, obviously. In her second appearance at the Seattle Women in Jazz Festival, she proved, once again, that she has the chops and the compositional and arranging expertise to accomplish that goal.

Ann was also accompanied by a strong compliment of musicians: trumpeter Daniel Barry and trombonist Naomi Siegal played several outstanding solos during the set, as well as working together on Ann's lovely horn arrangements for the songs. Edson Otero worked together with Ernesto Pediangco (double-hitting for the show). Two top-tier latin percussionists who seemed quite at home working together, they played musical percussion chairs, trading off on congas, timbales, bongos, and the numerous bells and shakers. Ben Verdier held down the bass chair with lines that not only rooted the Afro-Cuban grooves, but were also melodic and inventive in their own right. And percussionist Susan Mackenzie sat in with the group adding touches on maracas, shakers, and cowbell.

Ann travels regularly to Cuba to make sure she stays in touch with the authentic Cuban tradition, as well as keeping up with what's new on the scene there. This is reflected in her music which stays solidly inside the Afro-Cuban framework even in her original pieces. As a Caucasian Seattleite, it would be easy for Ann to mix it up as a fusion, but it was refreshing that she did not do that. She kept the music honest and real, bringing home the point that as the "Clave Gringa" herself, she can meet even the best traditionalists on their own turf. The set was a joy to listen to.

Memorable for me was a gorgeous bolero called "Working Through" written and arranged by Ann. In a genre known for it's high-energy dance numbers, Ann reminded us that Cuban Jazz has a beautiful slow and romantic side expressed through the bolero songform. Ann also brought home the point with this song that a real master of the piano does not need to play loud or fast to move an audience. Daniel's trumpet and Naomi's trombone solos added another layer of rich romanticism to the number.

They wrapped it up with "Casi Cubano," the title a reference to a comment that apparently many of the musicians in Cuba make - that she feels like a Cuban to them, even though she doesn't look like one. Again, a testament to the fact that she is meeting the Cuban musicians on their own turf, and they are enjoying making music with her. Memorable in this song was an outstanding timbales solo by Edson.

And that, my friends is a wrap. I had a VERY enjoyable evening of music in which every single performer shined. Viva la Seattle Women In Jazz Festival! May you be with us for many years to come!