Category Archives: Music

Camina Eddie! MAESTRO EDDIE PALMIERI’S ENDURING VIRTUOSITY AT 80 AND BEYOND

MAESTRO EDDIE PALMIERI’S ENDURING VIRTUOSITY AT 80 AND BEYOND
By Babá António Mondesíre

On March 4, 2017, JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER (Frederick P. Rose Hall) presented the second of two performances entitled, EDDIE PALMIERI, CELEBRATING 80 YEARS.

The festivities were divided into two segments: Latin jazz aka “instrumental mambos,” and an “Afro-Caribbean dance-set” of Nuyoricanized Salsa Dura (Hard, solid clave with traditional flavor).

Palmieri opened with a solo-piece dedicated to his late wife, Iraida and continued in “honoring mode” with loving words about Mama Julia, his paternal grandmother, an enslaved African and the source of the rhythmic patterns that are his “life’s pulse.” Also, warm mention of his late elder brother and master musician (pianist) Charlie Palmieri; JALC’S Artistic Director, Wynton Marsalis and the late Frank “Machito” Grillo, Tito Puente and Thelonious Monk, all iconic figures in his musical matrix.

In tune with Ęlégbá and Ifá respectively (Yorùbá – Lukumi cosmic energies of “Opening Roads” and “Universal Wisdom embodied in select Palm Trees) El Maestro performed a savory, laid back rendition of “Palmas,” with the full orchestra. Afterward, he let it be known – with gusto – “This is the greatest band I’ve ever played with!”

Touching moments abounded as Maestro EP paused between tunes to share powerful, reflective anecdotes and oral histories. Might we surmise the transformative power of his growl as he turns painful historical legacies into euphoric compositions? At one point, he noted, with intensity – Spain and Africa produced the “Mulato” (a person of mixed race). Despite the inhumanity that created him, the drum was re-created and brought happiness to the world with El Caribe as the epicenter.”

Borrowing from the historian of Afro-Atlantic Art, Professor Robert Farris Thompson’s thought process, Palmieri “unleashes specifically chosen ostinatos” (montunos/vamps that travel into, “unknown territories, deliberately attempting to capture the divine awkwardness of a world gone mad.”

MR. EP’s personnel included sixteen musicians, including him self, as sixteen is a sacred number with the Yoruba cosmology. In that context, the fraternal order of players “threw down” with universally encoded À ṣ e̩ (ah-shay or aché),  a West African metaphysical thought articulated through Yoruba – Lukumi culture that embraces, “the power to make things happen.”

All the musicians deserve honorable mention but a particular tip of the hat goes to Urban Jibaro/Cosmopolitan Guajiro Jimmy Bosch, whose “trombonic” phrasing and solos are invocations for cause for celebration; Bassist Luques Curtis’s intuitive interplay with Maestro EP’s piano work; authentic sonero Herman Olivera’s heartfelt pregones which honored the elders; masterful Tres work by Don Nelson Gonzalez Camilo Molina’s disciplined, classy approach to the timbales and trap-kit indicate inspiration from Ifá (Yorùbá – Lukumi cosmology). 

In all, there were consistent blasts from the unified brass section; musical warrior angels on trumpets, trombones and saxophones that raised eyebrows as they played in sync with a rock solid rhythm section marinated in signature Palmieri school of “Clave Afincao y Aguanto” (tension and release in 2/3 time, meter structured and controlled).

As the late science-fiction author, Robert Heinlein coined, we (the audience) “GROK” (understand something intuitively or by empathy) the full spectrum of Master EP’s musical messages.

 Music educates……Music empowers……..Music heals……contributes to good mental health………..creates well-being…

At the age of 80, Mr. Palmieri continues to “download” the latest solar sourced inspirations, edify his family, ancestral relations, his elders, his band, and the audience, indicating that he understand the formula. Eddie Palmieri “GROKS” and continues to rock.

CAMINA EDDIE!

Maestro EP’s Fraternal Order this performance: EDDIE PALMIERI, Leader, Piano; BRIAN LYNCH, Trumpet; CHARLIE SEPULVEDA, Trumpet JONATHAN POWELL, Trumpet; JIMMY BOSCH, Trombone; JOSEPH FIEDLER, Trombone ; LOUIS FOUCHE, Alto Saxophone; JEREMY POWELL, Tenor Saxophone; IVAN RENTA, Baritone Saxophone LUQUES CURTIS, Bass; VICENTE “LITTLE JOHNNY” RIVERO, Congas; CAMILO MOLINA, Timbales, Drums; NICHOLAS MARRERO, Bongo, Timbalitos; HERMAN OLIVERA, Lead Vocals; NELSON GONZALEZ, Tres Guitar, Vocals and JOSEPH GONZALEZ, Maracas, Vocals

Words of gratitude to Tomas Pena who invited me  to take his place in reviewing this performance of my music hero of over a half century – El Maestro Eddie Palmieri.  Thanks – Live and prosper, brother!

Tomas Pena’s website:  JazzDeLaPena:  https://jazzdelapena.com

Contained here are links to sample Maestro EP’s work with trimmed down core personnel of JALC’s March 3 + 4 2017 performance. Nothing like live! Enjoy and savor!

Eddie Palmieri – Estival Jazz Lugano 2013
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6CVzxavttY&t=4s

Eddie Palmieri & Afro-Caribbean Jazz All Stars Festival De Jazz Latino Clazz 2013 (by Lucas Vazquez)
https://www.youtube.com/watchv=K1EG4gRN4qo&index=4&list=RDy6CVzxavttY

PHOTOS: Eddie Palmieri, Eddie and Charlie Palmieri by my cousin — Primo! –   Joe Conzo Jr.!

Joe Conzo’s websites:  http://www.joeconzo.com/

Eddie Palmieri’s Website: : http://www.palmierimusic.com

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REBEL TUMBAO – A Collaborative Call to Consciousness En Clave (Sacred Rhythm Music, 2015

CD REVIEW BY CONTRIBUTING WRITER, BABA ANTONIO MONDESIRE

Rebel\ ‘rebel 1a: to oppose those in authority who do not act in the best interest of humankind.

Tumbao\ toóm-‘Bah-o (Spanish) 1a: a syncopated bass and conga rhythm that makes you want to groove your ass off.

Musical Director, multi-percussionist, composer and spoken word artist, José Claussell fulfills a vision and breaches a new musical dimension and an organic concept of rhythmic diversity with his new CD, Rebel Tumbao.

Born with the gift of expressing rhythm and nurtured with a mind-blowing array of musical influences that span the global soundscape, José is a performer celebrated for his dynamic, spiritual and unique style of drumming and approach to music.

Like the current residence of the author of this review, the genesis of his musical journey can be traced back to his Brooklyn roots and a brownstone that was affectionately called “The mad house of music”.

In 1989 Eddie Palmieri invited José to join his band and catapulted him to the major eddie-palmieri
stages and clubs of the world, which led to recording and performance appearances with major artists such as, Ray Barretto, Richie Havens, Randy Weston, Donald Harrison, La India, Little Louie Vega, the Frank Sinatra Orchestra, Victor Manuelle, Tony Toni Tone, Chico Freeman, Hilton Ruiz and many more.

José has recorded seven productions with Mr. Palmieri, three of which received Grammy nominations as well as, Masterpiece, Palmieri’s collaboration with Tito Puente that won the award for best Salsa album in 2000. In conclusion, his musical mileage establishes a credibility we must tip our hats to.

Enter Rebel Tumbao – a culmination of a journey that began in 2002. The awareness invoking self-titled debut delivers a collaborative call to consciousness with 61ABfglclvLAFRO LATIN ROOTS MUSIC, where bilingual Spanish/Anglophonic spirit-filled Afro-Diasporic traditions blend with compatible chemistry.

The title sets up listeners with non-conformist creativity and unpredictable surprises that will sync with many, inter-generationally. The foundation of this unique sound is led by the masterful Claussell, who seems to have been reading the pulse of the sleeping giant, where a demand for a refreshing composite sound has been brewing.

The CD revisits a classic theme of blending respected genres from the firm foundation of old school jazz-tinged NuYoRicanized Salsa Dura (Cosmopolitized New York-based First thru third generation Puerto Ricans and their descendants that upgraded Afro-Cuban root music to match an urban aesthetic) with Jamaican Reggae vis a vis Bob Marley and gospelized soul-stirring R&B.

Each track is garnished with unexpected flavors from Boricua Isleño sonero lead coros(Island based Puerto Rican lead vocalist lead call and response), Doo Wop harmonizing and accents from diaspora Yoruba devotional chants to Colombian Cumbia licks and more.

From the outset and throughout all ten plus bonus tracks, the listener is prepared for a musical journey as lead vocalist, Toussaint’s husky, resonant tenor, delivers with a depth of soul and musical influences that range a vocal spectrum. In complementary fashion, on bilingual tracks, soneros (vocalists) Herman Olivera and Marco Bermudez deliver criollo(Creolized) authenticity supported by a genuine down home coro sabroso (flavorful / soulful chorus) calling for pro-active compassion to the human condition. Be encouraged to listen carefully to receive those heartfelt messages.

Diverse, seductive heartthrob montunos (soulful vamps) are, at times haunting with minor chords accented by fellow CD producer keyboardist, Matt Jenson’s in-the-pocket groove, Clausell’s precision timbale work, hyper-bongo and crisp Bata work by Anthony Carrillo, soul-stirring trombone work by Angel Subero Squantch and Scott Flynn. Let the lyrics push the listener to reflect.

Worthy of repetition, Claussell is a graduate of the exclusive school Maestro Eddie PalmieriHarlem-River-Drive-Featured-Image(1989-2013), who’s recordings of Harlem River Drive (1971), Vamonos Pa’l Monte (1971) and the earlier La Perfecta era signature style (1962-1968) influenced his musicality and served as his call to consciousness.

And that my friends is La Arma Secreta (The Secret Weapon) throughout the CD: Palmieri’s old school La Perfecta technique of La Clave aguanta’o (restrained / reigned in) where the natural tendency to speed up the meter is suppressed as if dragging the tempo. This deliberate slowing time and widening sonic spaces magically allows both dancer and the listener to savor every syncopated note and rhythmic lick. This effective and time-honored technique makes every track rock smooth and groove, honey coating the listener with its enduring harmonic, rhythmic essence. Don’t take my word for it. Test it yourself. (See link below).

While reflecting on the earthy, lyrical commentary citing the enigmas of the human condition, the listener receives inspiration, move, and groove. Indeed, even Mother Earth is listening and rejoicing.

 

 

rebel tumbao back 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to  Tomas  Peña Founder / Editor of JazzDeLaPena  for inviting me to review this CD. I encourage everyone to visit his website to learn about some of the best musicians on the planet:    http://jazzdelapena.com/

REBEL TUMBAO WEBSITE: http://www.rebeltumbao.com

SAMPLE TRACKS: http://music.sacredrhythmmusic.net/album/rebel-tumbao-debut-cd

JOSE CLAUSSELL INFO – en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/José_Claussell

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Latin on Lex Jazz Fest: New Cuban New York – A Confluence of Cultures Converge in the Big Apple By Antonio Mondesire – Mar 28, 2015

Day 2 of the 92nd Street Y’s Latin on Lex series celebrated “a snapshot of a musical movement that could only have taken place in New York City,” says Artistic Director, Brian Lynch.

The event featured Grammy nominees, Yosvany Terry, Pedro “Pedrito” Martinez and Manuel Valera, who among others made the pilgrimage to New York, remained, and enriched the musical life of the Jazz Mecca as performers, composers and bandleaders.

The performance was inspired by Lynch’s involvement with the players since their arrival in New York approximately 20 years ago. According to Lynch, “I’m proud of any modest ‘cross-pollinating’ role I may have played in working alongside these phenomenal musicians in both my groups and their own.”

The repertoire included nine original compositions: Dance the Way You Want To; Noticiero; Story Teller; Keep Talking; Aw Shucks; La Gloria Eres Tú; Harlem Matinee; Summer Relief and Descargando.

Highlights included crisp, sophisticated, grounded “en clave” trumpet work by Brian Lynch; admirable improvisations and use of harmonics by Lynch, Terry and Greg Tardy’s brass and reeds; Manuel Valera’s superb piano flows, Pedrito Martinez’s Abakua recitation and chants; the multi-talented Yosvany Terry, who effortlessly toggled (played) between the saxophone and the shekere without missing a beat; soothing acoustic work by bassist Hans Glawischnig and hyper-fluent trap work by Haitian drummer, Obed Calvaire.

At the pre-concert discussion, Brian Lynch discussed the underlying philosophy of Afro-Atlantic religious traditions, such as Yoruba and Lukumi, the links between Afro-Cuban Jazz and Afro-Caribbean jazz and their ability to evoke a state of being that touches the heart, body and mind. Above all, he explained why these musicians and their music have become an indispensable part of the New York jazz scene and modern jazz in the 21st century.

Kudos to the 92nd Street Y for giving the series a home and the Kaufmann Concert Hall for an earthy, organic audio experience. I look forward to Latin on Lex becoming a yearly event.

 

Personnel: Brian Lynch: trumpet, Yosvany Terry: alto sax and shekere; Gregory Tardy, tenor sax and clarinet; Manuel Valera, piano: Pedrito Martinez, percussion and vocal; Hans Glawischnig, acoustic bass Obed Calvaire: drums.

The original articles including a variety of photographs are available on  JazzDelaPena and LatinJazzNetwork 

 

 

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Elio Villafranca’s Vision Comes Alive at Jazz at Lincoln Center

Performance Review by Antonio Mondesire
February 21, 2015

Pianist, composer, arranger Elio Villafranca and the Jass Syncopator’s presented Cinqué – The Suite of the Caribbean at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Appel Room before a warm and receptive audience.

elio-villafranca

The suite consisted of five movements dedicated to and inspired by Joseph Cinqué, the protagonist of La Amistad, a freedom fighter and force of nature whose journey of self-discovery was rooted in the idea, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Consistent with Yoruba wisdom, Villafranca’s powerful sonic-art honored the ancestors and the branches and roots of our collective ancestral tree.

Essentially, the repertoire was a musical journey in five parts:

Part 1: Cinque / The Capture / Troubled Waters.

Part II: Maluagda / La Burl de Los Congos / Madre Agua (Yaya Baluande).

Part III: Indigo / Mesi Bondye.

Part IV: The Night at Bois Caiman / Burn Down the Fields.

Part V: Comparsa.

The movements represented a diverse range of colors, textures, rhythms, melodic call and response and solos accented by traditional dance.

Highlights included Jon Faddis’s riveting brass acumen; consistent, tasteful exchanges between the pianist and his team of polished musicians; trombonist/conch/shell player Steve Turre’s unparalleled swing and crowd pleasing harmonics; the tasteful inclusion of traditional Puerto Rican rhythms (Bomba Xica), the integration of recorded Kongo chants, a sweet rendition of the tune, “Mesi Bondye” by banjo player, Leila Mc Calla and the closing comparsa (Cuban Carnival swing with classic chorus) as dancer Liethis Y Hechavarria –
tap danced with wood block sandals playing 2-3 beat of the clave.

Jonathan “JBlak” Troncoso – need to see / hear more of his pan Afro-Caribe virtuousity with some featured solos….as the old Kongos would say “somos. o no somos” /” are we or are we not”.

Prior to the concert, Ben Young of Swing University conducted an interesting and informative pre-concert discussion and touched on Elio Villafranca’s geo-historic background in context to the Caribbean Basin of island nations. It is here that a brief description of the banjo used in Leyla McCalla’s work would have been helpful.

To conclude, Elio Villafranca and the Jass Syncopators are lined up for “Nsambi Mpugu’s” (God Almighty’s) blessings as he builds upon the high standard that he has set for himself. We respectfully watch his growth. Bacheche! (excellent in Kongo).

Personnel: Elio Villafranca – Musical Director > piano and Guataca; Jon Faddis – trumpet; Leyla McCalla – cello/banjo/ vocal; Vincent Herring – alto sax/flute/clarinet: Steve Turre – trombone and multiple conch shells; Greg Tardy – tenor sax/clarinet; Michele Wright –clarinet; Gregg August – bass; and assorted percussion; Jonathan “JBlak”Troncoso – percussion: Liethis Y Hechavarria – dancer.

Elio Villafranca: www.eliovillafranca.net

Jazz at Lincoln Center: www.jazz.org

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