DownBeat Revista de Jazz

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  • 8/19/2019 DownBeat Revista de Jazz


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    President Kevin Maher Publisher Frank Alkyer Editor Bobby Reed Associate Editor Brian Zimmerman Contributing Editor Ed Enright Art Director LoriAnne Nelson Contributing Designer Žaneta untová Circulation Manager Kevin R. Maher Assistant to the Publisher Sue Mahal Bookkeeper Evelyn Oakes Bookkeeper Emeritus Margaret Stevens Editorial Assistant Baxter Barrowcliff


    Record Companies & SchoolsJennifer Ruban-Gentile

    630-941-2030 [email protected]

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    [email protected]

    Advertising Sales AssociateSam Horn

    [email protected]


    102 N. Haven Road, Elmhurst, IL 60126–2970630-941-2030 / Fax: 630-941-3210

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    Senior Contributors:Michael Bourne, Aaron Cohen, Howard Mandel, John McDonoughAtlanta: Jon Ross; Austin: Kevin Whitehead; Boston: Fred Bouchard, Frank-John Hadley; Chicago: John Corbett, Alain Drouot, Michael Jackson, PeterMargasak, Bill Meyer, Mitch Myers, Paul Natkin, Howard Reich; Denver: NormanProvizer; Indiana: Mark Sheldon; Iowa: Will Smith; Los Angeles: Earl Gibson,Todd Jenkins, Kirk Silsbee, Chris Walker, Joe Woodard; Michigan: John Ephland;Minneapolis: Robin James; Nashville: Bob Doerschuk; New Orleans: ErikaGoldring, David Kunian, Jennifer Odell; New York: Alan Bergman, Herb Boyd,Bill Douthart, Ira Gitler, Eugene Gologursky, Norm Harris, D.D. Jackson, JimmyKatz, Jim Macnie, Ken Micallef, Dan Ouellette, Ted Panken, Richard Seidel, TomStaudter, Jack Vartoogian, Michael Weintrob; North Carolina: Robin Tolleson;Philadelphia: David Adler, Shaun Brady, Eric Fine; San Francisco: Mars Breslow,Forrest Bryant, Clayton Call, Yoshi Kato; Seattle: Paul de Barros; Tampa Bay: Philip Booth; Washington, D.C.: Willard Jenkins, John Murph, MichaelWilderman; Belgium: Jos Knaepen; Canada: Greg Buium, James Hale, DianeMoon; Denmark: Jan Persson; France: Jean Szlamowicz; Germany: DetlevSchilke, Hyou Vielz; Great Britain: Brian Priestley; Japan: Kiyoshi Koyama;Portugal: Antonio Rubio; Romania: Virgil Mihaiu; Russia: Cyril Moshkow; SouthAfrica: Don Albert.

    Jack Maher, President 1970-2003John Maher, President 1950-1969

    SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION: Send orders and address changes to: DOWNBEAT,P.O. Box 11688, St. Paul, MN 55111–0688. Inquiries: U.S.A. and Canada (877) 904-5299;Foreign (651) 251-9682. CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Please allow six weeks for your changeto become effective. When notifying us of your new address, include current DOWN-BEAT label showing old address.DOWNBEAT (issn 0012-5768) Volume 83, Number 2 is published monthly by MaherPublications, 102 N. Haven, Elmhurst, IL 60126-2970. Copyright 2015 Maher Publica-tions. All rights reserved. Trademark registered U.S. Patent Office. Great Britain regis-tered trademark No. 719.407. Periodicals postage paid at Elmhurst, IL and at additionalmailing offices. Subscription rates: $34.95 for one year, $59.95 for two years. Foreignsubscriptions rates: $56.95 for one year, $103.95 for two years.Publisher assumes no responsibility for return of unsolicited manuscripts, photos, orartwork. Nothing may be reprinted in whole or in part without written permissionfrom publisher. MAHER PUBLICATIONS: DOWNBEAT magazine, MUSIC INC. maga-zine, UpBeat Daily.POSTMASTER: Send change of address to: DownBeat, P.O. Box 11688, St. Paul, MN55111–0688. CABLE ADDRESS: DownBeat (on sale January 19, 2016 ) MagazinePublishers Association.


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    76 Manuel Valera &Groove Square

    73 Zakir Hussain 74 Scott Hamilton/Jeff Hamilton

    72 Enrico Pieranunzi

    28 Paquito D'Rivera Answering YeyitoBY TED PANKEN

    32 Randy Brecker‘We Loved the Funk’ BY TERRY PERKINS

    36 Mike Reed'sGrand VisionBY AARON COHEN

    41 193 Great Jazz VenuesThe Best Places to HearLive Jazz Worldwide

    SPECIAL SECTION89 Recording School90 Sound Advice on Producing

    Jazz RecordingsBY GEORGE KLABIN

    94 Master ClassBY PETE KARAM

    96 TranscriptionDavid MurrayTenor Saxophone Solo

    98 Toolshed

    22 SnarkyPuppy A Friendly,Funky Monster BY JOSEF WOODARD

    This fiercely independent jazzband, currently riding highwith world tours and a quicklyexpanding discography onits own GroundUP label, hasbecome a model of self-reliance.




    69 Reviews102 Jazz On

    Campus 106 Blindfold Test

    Terri Lyne Carrington

    8 First Take10 Chords & Discords13 The Beat18 Players

    Miho HazamaChristian HowesPixelColin Linden


    FEBRUARY 2016


    Randy Brecker performs with the Concert Jazz Band atthe University of Missouri at Columbia on Nov. 7, 2015.

    On the cover, Snarky Puppy bandleader Michael League (front), with his bandmates (back row, from left):Mike “Maz” Maher, Nate Werth, Shaun Martin; (middle row, from left) Jay Jennings, Jason “JT” Thomas, JustinStanton and Chris Bullock. Photo shot by Jimmy and Dena Katz at ShapeShifter Lab in Brooklyn on Sept. 17, 2015.

    K E V I N M A T H

    E I N

    / M I Z Z O U C R E A T I V E

    Terri Lyne Carrington

    T R A C Y L O V E

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    Let's Get Together WE LIVE IN A TIME OF DISUNITY AND strife. Today’s news headlines are oftenabout tensions between two groups whocannot see eye-to-eye, whether it’s politi-cians accusing each other of misdeeds orcommunity activists at odds with the localpolice department.

    Some of these divisive issues are ex-tremely serious, while others amount topetty bickering. Whether the problemis large or small, it seems that a solutioncould be found—or maybe some progresswould be made—if the two parties could

    just reach some kind of common groundand listen to one another. Perhaps our civicleaders should look to artists for examplesof how people from diverse backgroundscan work together toward a common goal.

    One of the key community builders in jazz today is drummer Mike Reed (who isprofiled in this issue). He wears many hats.Reed founded the wonderful, adventurousChicago jazz venue Constellation; he is alsofounding director of the Pitchfork MusicFestival and the programming chair of theChicago Jazz Festival. In each of these roles,he works to bring people together. Duringa recent interview with Senior ContributorAaron Cohen, Reed said, “The thing I dis-covered about myself … the thing that I’mmost interested in, is getting people to-gether and being a part of it.”

    That desire to unify people is manifestin his programming at Constellation, where

    he strives to get young audience membersand young musicians in the same roomwith revered veterans like Roscoe Mitch-ell and Wadada Leo Smith. Such gestureshelp eliminate the perception that there’sa “generation gap” between older andyounger musicians.

    As Reed told Cohen, if you want to getto know someone better, invite them overfor dinner. And that’s exactly what theband Snarky Puppy has done, particularlywith its acclaimed album Family Dinner,Volume One , and the new release FamilyDinner, Volume Two (described in our cov-er story). The above photo of Snarky Puppy& Co. brings to mind the phrase “It takes avillage.” Depicted in this photo are band-leader Michael League (crouching in front,with a cajon) and the “family” of musicianswho made the new album. Collaboratorsincluded Becca Stevens, Väsen, SusanaBaca, Charlie Hunter, Salif Keita, Knower,Jeff Coffin, Laura Mvula and David Crosby.

    We certainly don’t intend to belittle theextremely challenging problems that ourcivic leaders face nowadays. But maybe,

    just maybe , if they look at what artists likeSnarky Puppy are doing, they’ll work a bitharder on bringing people together.

    Let us know what you think about therole of jazz in unifying people. Post onour Facebook page or email us at editor@ Thanks for interacting withus, and please keep on reading. DB

    First Take BY BOBBY REED


    Snarky Puppy and collaborators whoplay on Family Dinner, Volume Two S T

    E L L A K

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    Chords Discords

    Have a Chord or Discord? Email us at [email protected] find us on Facebook & Twitter.

    Woods' Final BowThank you for your tribute to Phil Woods(The Beat, December). My wife and I sawhis final concert, on Sept. 4 at MCG Jazz inPittsburgh. I first discovered Woods’ artistryon some Monk recordings I bought in thelate ’60s, and I have been a fan ever since.

    During that Pittsburgh concert, as brilliantas his playing was, Woods seemed labored attimes. On at least one occasion it seemed as ifhe just stopped playing and turned the musicover to the orchestra. (This was a Charlie Park-er With Strings concert.) That led me to won-der if he had planned on retirement earlier, or

    if he made his retirement announcement onthe spur of the moment. At several points hereminisced about his career with wonderfulstories. He described his love of Dizzy Gillespieand his work with him—quite the opposite ofhis feelings toward Benny Goodman, primarilybased on his being a sideman on Goodman’sU.S.S.R. tour.

    All in all, it was a wonderful night and wewere honored to be there and hear him. It leftus with memories that will stick with us forev-er—seeing and hearing this wonderful artistswinging so perfectly.BOB & DIANE ANDERSONMORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA

    Underrated TrudellAs a long-time

    jazz fan and read-er of DownBeat, I

    just can’t believethe disconnectthat some of yourreviewers have re-garding straighta-head, swinging

    jazz. It seems likethe “cool” thing now is to be “out” and tosay, “To heck with tradition.” One recent ex-ample is Bob Doerschuk’s review of the DanTrudell Trio’s album Dan Trudell Plays The

    Piano in your January issue. If you’re intotraditional jazz, there’s no way that’s only a3½-star album! At the very least, it shouldget 4½ stars. Every song on the albumstands on its own.

    Perhaps reviewers should designate theirgenre preferences because otherwise theymight turn people off to fantastic listeningopportunities.KEVIN MCINTOSH


    Remembering Mark MurphyThe great jazz singer Mark Murphy depart-ed this life on Oct. 22, leaving a legacy offantastic recordings that we will alwaystreasure (First Take, January). MichaelBourne said it well in his First Take essay:Murphy was “a singer’s singer.” We shallnot see his like again.


    Where’s the Latin Jazz?I just browsed through most of the 2015 is-sues of DownBeat, give or take one or two.

    In the April issue, I noticed that the BlindfoldTest with vibraphonist Warren Wolf did notinclude any selections by one of the great-est vibes players of all time, Tito Puente.When I looked at the other tracks includedin the Blindfold Tests for the year, I noticedthere were no selections by Latin Jazz art-ists. This is an egregious and dishearteningoversight. Please stop treating Latin Jazz ina token manner and start including it in theBlindfold Test.MARCELLA [email protected]

    Editor's Note: Our December 2015 issue in-cluded a Blindfold Test with Pete Escovedo& Sheila E. in which they were asked to com-ment on Tito Puente’s “3-D Mambo” andMachito’s “Cannonology.”

    Charity CaseIn your October issue, the review of Mark Ri-bowsky’s book Dreams To Remember: OtisRedding, Stax Records, and the Transforma-tion of Southern Soul made a reference toRedding’s participation in the 1967 Monte-rey International Pop Festival. I'd like to of-fer some details.

    All the proceeds from the festival did in-deed go to a charitable fund that continuesto receive revenue from CD and DVD sales,licensing of film/audio clips, etc., which sup-ports a variety of educational and artist-de-velopment programs. All the musicians whoperformed at Monterey were told in advancethat their time was to be donated, and they allagreed. The festival could not have happenedwithout the bands waving their fees. The onlyartist who was paid was Ravi Shankar, whose

    deal was made prior to the involvement of fes-tival producers Lou Adler and John Phillips.

    My brother Harvey and I are co-authorsof the authoritative history of the festival,

    A Perfect Haze: The Illustrated History of theMonterey International Pop Festival. I call ourbook authoritative because Mr. Adler gaveus unprecedented access to his exhaustivefiles, correspondence, legal contracts andother ephemera, which document the event’scharitable directive.KENNETH KUBERNIKLOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

    In the DoghouseI just read the results of the Readers Pollin your December issue. Snarky Puppy?!?Maybe when my fellow readers were votingin the Jazz Group category, they thoughtthey were voting for the band with thecutest name.


    Accentuate the PositiveIt’s sad to see readers spending time andenergy to rip magnificent artists like CharlesLloyd and Mary Halvorson in the Chords &Discords section in recent issues of Down-Beat. Everyone is certainly entitled to theirown opinion, and even critics famously dis-agree on artists and music at times. But whygo through the trouble of writing a letterto the editor in order to slam artists that somany others love? Innovative musicians likeLloyd and Halvorson should be celebratedfor what they bring to jazz, which is one ofthe key reasons I have subscribed to Down-Beat for years.BRUCE BALLANREXFORD, NEW YORK


    Phil Woods at his finalconcert, Sept. 4, 2015

    N A T E G U I D R Y

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    14 / Barcelona JazzFestival

    15 / Blue Note "Jazzat Sea" Festival

    16 / Aaron Parks17 / Allen Toussaint


    News Views From Around The Music World



    Horn Wins Monk InstituteJazz Vocals CompetitionD istinguishing superb scatting rom thesuperuous kind was part o the taskor the expert judges at this year’sTelonious Monk Institute International JazzVocals Competition. Te victor, JazzmeiaHorn o Dallas, demonstrated her talents intraditional singing as well as the more difficultart o scatting.

    On Nov. 14 at UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall, 11hope uls took the stage, each o them launchinginto intricate, wordless improvisations that moreofen proved ar more prolix than pro ound.

    Dee Dee Bridgewater—who served as a judge alongside Patti Austin, Al Jarreau, FreddyCole and Luciana Souza—commented that hon-ing the art o scatting takes a long time.

    “When you’re young, scat-singing is more oan idea instead o an art; you get better the moreyou do it,” Bridgewater explained. “You haveto grow into it and develop your phrasing. Teyounger singers seem to create their scat vocalsbe ore they even get on stage; so it’s not reallyimprovisation and communicating with the musicians on stage. Scattingneeds to come out o the musical conversation, in real time.”

    As winner o the Monk Competition, Horn received a $25,000 scholarshipand a record deal with Concord Music Group.

    Te second-place nalist—Veronica Swif o Charlottesville,Virginia—received a $15,000 scholarship. Tird-place nalistVuyolwethu Sotashe, who hails rom Mthatha, South A rica, received a$10,000 scholarship.

    During the seminals, Horn immediately established hersel as aavorite by delivering a bristling reading o Monk’s “Evidence,” on which

    she spat out crisscrossing passages with the rhythmic ow o a reestylerapper. Te 24-year-old singer was clearly in a Betty Carter state o mind,as she embodied the icon’s play ul sense o daringness, even mimickingsome her body movements. Horn exhibited a air or singing rhythmi-

    cally complex lines in ballad orm with her alluring rendition o JimmyRowles’ “Te Peacocks,” be ore explicitly paying her debt to Carter with

    a risky take on her composition “ ight.”Te next day, at the Dolby Teatre in Hollywood, Horn dazzled even

    more. Be ore closing her nalists-round per ormance with a glowing ren-dition o Herb Ellis’ “Detour Ahead,” she brought a timely sociopoliticalundercurrent to the evening by rst singing James Weldon Johnson’s “LifEv’ry Voice And Sing” be ore seguing into a barrelhouse makeover o Bobby

    immons and Jon Hendricks’ “Moanin’.” Here, Horn went ar beyondrecital mode by imbuing the material with uninching conviction.

    Te event also included a moving tribute to music industry iconQuincy Jones, who received the institute’s Humanitarian Award. A rotat-ing cast o stars paid their respects with per ormances o songs related toJones, ranging rom the instrumental themes or V shows ( Sanfordand Son and Ironside) to jazz standards (“Come Fly With Me,”sung with gusto by Seth MacFarlane) to the Michael Jackson hit

    “Human Nature,” highlighted by Wayne Shorter’s inquisitive sopra-no saxophone —John Murph

    From left: Vuyolwethu Sotashe, Veronica Swift, Jazzmeia Horn, Quincy Jones,Gretchen Parlato and Luciana Souza at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Nov. 15

    C O U R T E S Y S T E V E M U N D I N G E R

    / T H E L O N I O U S M O N K I N S T I T U T E O F J A Z Z

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    Salvant, RosenwinkelStun in BarcelonaUNLIKE OTHER FAMOUS JAZZ FESTIVALSthat present multitudes o master practitionersin a compressed amount o time, the Voll-Damm International Jazz Festival o Barcelonaproceeds at the stately pace o a late supper inthe Catalonian capital, allowing its audiencea chance to savor the intricacies o each art-ist with the same intensity that local residentsapply to consuming ood and wine.

    Te 47th edition opened on Sept. 26 with aconcert by Diana Krall, and entered high gearon Oct. 22 with Chick Corea and Te Vigil, pre-senting between our to six bands a week duringthe ensuing time rame. Among them havebeen a cohort o world-class pianists—DaniloPérez with the Children o the Light rio; triosled by Uri Caine, Ste ano Bollani and GiovanniGuidi; diasporic explorations by young CubansRoberto Fonseca and David Virelles; and twoconcerts apiece by Cuban maestros ChuchoValdés and Gonzalo Rubalcaba.

    Another highlight was a Nov. 19 per or-mance at BAR S, a per ormance space on theParallel, where singer Cécile McLorin Salvantand her trio per ormed or a packed house.

    Road-tested and synchronous afer threeweeks into a zig-zagging tour o Europe, pianistAaron Diehl, bassist Paul Sikivie and drummerLawrence Leathers took the stage and played abrisk chorus on Lerner and Loewe’s “On Te

    Street Where You Live,” setting up Salvant’stour de orce reading. She inhabited the lyricwith a cabaret singer’s nesse and dramaticanima, but improvised upon it with a jazz sing-er’s swing and gusto, in ecting each syllablewith proper emphasis, juxtaposing purrs andhollers as the lyric demanded, moving smooth-ly through her capacious range.

    Salvant applied similar aesthetics to theremaining 13 songs, stamping her personali-ty on a century’s worth o American repertoirewith an in-the-moment, all-jazz-is-modernsensibility without ever descending into man-

    nerisms or irony or irony’s sake.She addressed Bert Williams’ tragicomic1906 hit “Nobody,” blues queens Bessie Smith(“What’s Te Matter Now”) and BlancheCalloway (“Growlin’ Dan”), Judy Garland(“Te rolley Song”), Blossom Dearie (“WhenIn Rome, Do As Te Romans Do”), BurtBacharach (“Wives And Lovers”), Argentinelyricist Felix Luna (“Al onsina Y El Mar”) andthe well-crafed, torchy, Salvant-penned lament“Look At Me.”

    It was unclear how uent in EnglishSalvant’s listeners were, but they hung on herevery syllable throughout, captivated by herwarm, direct, unaffected stage presence and

    the universal language o master ully renderednotes and tones.

    Salvant is Salvant in whatever context sheper orms, but it must be noted that the trio

    unctioned collaboratively throughout the pro-ceedings, alert to her every cue, and soloingcreatively within whatever idiom was in play,a single example being Diehl’s blues-drenched,locked-hands solo on “Growlin’ Dan.”

    On the previous two evenings, on the otherside o town, in L’Auditori at Barcelona’sConservatori Liceu, Artistic Director JoanCararach had booked guitarists Marc Ribotand the Young Philadelphians (Jamaaladeen

    acuma, G. Calvin Weston, Mary Halvorson)and a solo concert by Kurt Rosenwinkel.

    For Rosenwinkel, “solo” did not meanunaccompanied. As denoted by two numberstitled “Imaginary Friend” and “ImaginaryFriend’s Friend,” he surrounded himsel witha laptop, a keyboard, various looping devicesand a headset, deploying the gear to create pun-gent—though static—bass lines and beats that

    ramed long, melodic improvisations.At the beginning, Rosenwinkel created a

    drone with a South Indian connotation, thenbegan guitar ruminations that morphed into themoti o “You’ve Changed,” upon which he pig-gybacked into a stream o melody within which

    could be detected ragments o “Without A Song”and “Jitterbug Waltz.” On “Path O Te Heart,”rom 2010’sOur Secret World , he improvised over

    sel -generated clave beats with characteristicallyluminous tone, which also animated a reading oMonk’s “Ugly Beauty,” which he introduced withupper-partial overtones.

    Later, he created a kind o quasi- charanga band, setting up an A rocubanistic 6/8 beat that

    ramed a owing guitar solo that complement-ed ute-like synth lines created by his unpar-alleled lef hand. It was melodic playing at theSonny Rollins-John Sco eld level; it seemed hecould continue all night long and the audiencewould still be captivated. — ed Panken



    “Sassy” Winner: Arianna Neikrugtook first place in the 4th Annual SarahVaughan International Vocal Compe-tition, held Nov. 15 at the New JerseyPerforming Arts Center in Newark. The

    Miami-based vocalist, originally fromLos Angeles, will receive an exclusiverecording contact with ConcordRecords, a $5,000 cash prize and aperformance slot at the 2016 MontrealJazz Festival. The second-place winnerwas Angela Hagenbach from KansasCity, who was awarded a $1,500 cashprize, and the third-place winner wasNicole Zuraitis from Brooklyn, whoreceived a $500 cash award.More info:

    Staples on Film: MAVIS! is the firstdocumentary on gospel/soul legendand civil rights icon Mavis Staples andher family group, The Staple Singers.Directed by Jessica Edwards, the filmwill premiere on HBO on Feb. 22 (checklocal listings for show times). It featureslive performances, rare archival foot-age and conversations with friendsand contemporaries, including BobDylan, Prince, Bonnie Raitt, Chuck D,Sharon Jones and Jeff Tweedy.More info:

    Monterey on Tour: The Monterey JazzFestival on Tour 2016 will play 28shows from Jan. 14 to March 13. Thisyear’s all-star band includes guitarist/vocalist Raul Midón, saxophonist RaviColtrane, trumpeter Nicholas Payton,pianist/musical director Gerald Clayton,bassist Joe Sanders, drummer GregoryHutchinson (January and Februarydates) and drummer Kendrick Scott(March dates). The 17-city tour includesa five-night run at Birdland in New

    York City (Feb. 2–6).

    More info:

    Kurt Rosenwinkel performs at the 47th Voll-Damm International Jazz Festival in Barcelona. L O

    R E N Z O D U A S O

    / V O L L - D

    A M M F E S T I V A L

    Caught Arianna Neikrug

    L A U R A D I M E O

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    Blue Note Stars Set SailFOR SEVEN DAYS IN LATE OCTOBER/EARLY NOVEMBER, ONE OFthe hippest jazz clubs on the planet was no jazz club at all, but ratherCunard Line’s agship Queen Mary 2, during the inaugural Cunard/Blue Note “Jazz at Sea” estival, during a transatlantic crossing romBrooklyn to Southampton, England.

    Accompanied by label president, bassist/producer Don Was, the musi-cians onboard included some o Blue Note Records’ biggest names: singerGregory Porter, pianist Robert Glasper, and the Blue Note 75th AnniversaryBand, an all-star group eaturing Glasper, bassist Derrick Hodge, drummerKendrick Scott, guitarist Lionel Loueke, saxophonist Marcus Strickland andtrumpeter Keyon Harrold (subbing or Ambrose Akinmusire). Other play-ers onboard included drummers E.J. Strickland and Mark Colenburg, pia-nist Fabian Almazen, keyboardists Michael Aaberg and Federico Peña, gui-tarist Mike Moreno and bassist/singer Alan Hampton.

    Te inspiration or the partnership was Cunard’s, according toStanley Birge, vice-president o Cunard, N.A., who explained that bybooking jazz stars, the passenger ship line, long known or its culturalprogramming, is trying to appeal to current customers but also to attract

    a new generation to the cruise line.Te experiment got off to rather a shaky start afer dinner on the rstevening, on the stage o the ship’s 1,094-seat Royal Court Teatre. Wasappeared in his usual shades, dreadlocks and cowboy hat. “How manyo you are amiliar with Blue Note Records?” he asked. A smattering oapplause. “How many are jazz ans?” Another smattering.

    Te atmosphere seemed tense as the band came out and silently tooktheir places, no one knowing how this would y with the passengers. Teylaunched into Ornette Coleman’s “ urnaround,” with a series o play-

    ul solos that sometimes lef conventional tonality behind. Somewhere

    between a quarter and a third o the audience headed or the exits.Porter won over plenty o new ans with his compelling shows, and

    by the time the 75th Anniversary Band took the stage again a ew nightsafer its rst per ormance, the players had made a ew adjustments,incorporating amiliar jazz standards like “So What?” to meet the audi-ence hal way. “I thought they were most generous in understanding thata large portion o the audience was uninitiated,” Was said. “Tey playedhal o Kind of Blue last night!” he laughed. “It was really un.”

    On the question o whether the paring o Blue Note and Cunardwould win new customers to Blue Note or help the label sell more CDs,Was was thought ul. “My overall eeling ... is that selling records to con-sumers is not a viable business anymore. So this is a radical, uturisticmodel or how everybody can make a little bread, and you can bring innew people to hear the music.”

    Cunard has scheduled two more transatlantic crossings aboard the2,500-passenger ocean liner in 2016: westbound departing Southamptonon Aug. 1 (with Loueke and Herbie Hancock) and eastbound romBrooklyn on Oct. 26 (with Porter and other musicians). — Allen Morrison

    CaughtGregory Porter performsaboard the Queen Mary 2 .

    C O U R T E S Y C U N A R D L I N E


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    16/10816 DOWNBEAT FEBRUARY 2016

    Parks Hones ‘Storytelling’ SkillsI t’s the last day o November, and AaronParks is home in Brooklyn. He’s enjoyinghis rst day off in the last two months afera jammed-packed tour o Europe with JamesFarm, the collective quartet he’s a member owith saxophonist Joshua Redman, bassist MattPenman and drummer Eric Harland, as well as

    spending off-tour dates jamming with unisianoud player and singer Dha er Yousse with theintention o recording together in the uture.

    oday is supposedly a “down” day, except thatParks has decided to call a rehearsal at his apartment

    or his eclectic quartet Little Big, comprising gui-tarist Greg uohey, bassist Anders Christensen anddrummer Darren Beckett, in preparation or a two-

    night engagement at Smalls Jazz Club in GreenwichVillage. It’s a band whose members, while conver-sant with improvisation- ueled jazz, spend mucho their time playing in rock groups and alt-coun-try settings. “ his band is one o my top priorities inthe coming year,” Parks says. “I’ve written a couple onew songs or it and I’m repurposing some old songs

    or it. I want to see how it grows and I’m planning onreleasing a Little Big album in 2016.”

    Parks also notes that in October he record-ed a trio album with Ben Street and Billy Hart

    or ECM—a ollow-up o sorts or his brilliantsolo label debut, 2013’s Arborescence. It’s anoth-

    er one o Parks’ high priorities.

    On Oct. 12, Parks and Danish tenor saxo-phonist Christian Vuust released the sublimeduo album Storytelling , an intimate, melodicgem that combines Danish traditional musicwith American standards. Te Denmark-based Vuust, who was in New York on a two-month residency in 2013, met Parks when he

    enlisted him along with Jeff Ballard and BenStreet to record his Urban Hymn album. Vuustdescribed why he and the pianist clicked:“Aaron has an undogmatic, open, yet person-al approach to a song. He is a non-lick player; heis true to the song. It’s all about the song. Tisinspires me a lot.”

    Te Storytelling package includes a CD and

    44-page hard-cover booklet with the song lyr-ics—in English as well as Danish—along withVuust’s commentaries. Parks interacted withVuust again when the pianist was a acultymember and artist in residence or two-and-a-hal months at JazzDanmark in Copenhagen,where he composed music and per ormed withDanish jazz musicians. During the end o hisstay, he and Vuust recorded Storytelling.

    What attracted you to doing an album with Christian?

    I liked the way he played—to the point, to

    the center. And his tone is beauti ul and warm.When we toured his Urban Hymn album, we’d

    duo on “Summer Beyond” and it elt good.Tat’s when he proposed to make the duoalbum. When we recorded in Copenhagen, wedidn’t do any rehearsing. We just brought tunesin—mostly Christian, who brought in Danishtunes. I brought in “Foolin’ Mysel ,” which wehad per ormed with his band, as well as thestandards “Ghost O Yesterday,” the Gershwins’“Te Man I Love” and “Gone With Te Wind.”But it was his brainchild. I was just trying to g-ure out where we were and what service I couldgive so that I could join the party.

    In the album’s liner notes, Christianadvises musicians to become goodstoryteller—specifically, to developthe story that lies hidden in every goodsong, make the story their own andinvest in the attempt to communicatethe story to the listener.”

    Tat’s a priority to both o us. I’ve alwaysthought in terms o narrative in my music.What we’re doing is to stay true to the essenceo what these songs are, how we can continuethe story, to ollow through. Not to assert your-sel . Te story is there, so let’s ollow it naturally.

    Did Christian talk with you beforehandabout the meaning behind the Danishsongs you played? He said that he felt

    you “somehow intuitively understandthe musical nuances and the artistic

    messages in the Danish standards.”He told me a little about the lyrics. But more

    so, he talked about the mood, the essence.Sometimes I wasn’t sure i my version was right,but I went on without knowing.

    Christian said that when you touredDenmark in October, several peoplefrom the audience asked him, “Howcan Aaron play the Danish songs so

    well, not having grown up with thismusic?” He told the people it wasbecause you had a unique artisticsensitivity.

    Te Danes grew up with these songs, so Iend up playing them a little bit differently.Tey’re beauti ul songs that I treat with care.I noticed people coming up to me and saying,“I’ve never heard this song this way. I didn’tknow it could be done this way.” Tey werepleased. Tat’s what I love about Denmark. Ithas a great tradit ion o singing old olk songs.When I was at a master class at Engelsholm[Castle], at the beginning everyone sangthree or our songs rom the hojskole song-books o Danish tunes. Everyone knows

    them and they are sung all the time. I lovethat t radition. —Dan Ouellette

    Aaron Parks performs at Smalls JazzClub in New York on Dec. 4, 2015. S T

    E V E N S U S S M A N

  • 8/19/2019 DownBeat Revista de Jazz


    Berlin Jazz Fest BalancesTradition, AdventureONE DISTINGUISHING ASPECT OF THE BERLIN JAZZ FESTIVAL IS ITSrotating director’s chair, which makes or an ever-shifing change othe aesthetic guard every ew years. Tis year’s new director was British journalist Richard Williams, who ollows on the heels o more recentdirectors Bert Noglik, Nils Landgren and Peter Schulze.

    For the estival’s 51st edition, which ran Nov. 5–8, Williams statedthat his intention was “to ask what jazz is, and what it can become.” othat end, he put on a strong, provocative and varied program, rising tothe challenge o juggling musical adventures with com orting traditions.

    Listeners got a taste o the delicate balance on opening night, whichcommenced with the abstract and largely improvisational Berlin-basedSplitter Orchestr giving a power ul yet detailed reading o guest com-poser George Lewis’ “Creative Construction Set.” Te strongest showo the estival, however, was a master ul per ormance by trumpeterAmbrose Akinmusire, who led his quartet (with special guest vocalistTeo Bleckmann) or the closing set on Nov. 8.

    Also on opening night, singer Cécile McLorin Salvant demonstratedthe kind o jazz intelligence and theatrically tinged dynamism thatmakes her one o the most exciting new vocalists on the scene. Anotherpotent young voice, virtuosic French accordionist Vincent Peirani,mixed up musicality and post- usion odder. O the British music inthe mix, impressive young trumpeter Laura Jurd’s Dinosaur offeredup some savory, unk- ueled neo- usion grooves, while Dylan Howe’sSubterraneans took on David Bowie’s “Berlin”-era repertoire.

    Te geo-cultural GPS then moved rom the British Isles to the PuertoRican/New York City scene, via the vibrant alto saxophonist and concep-

    tualist Miguel Zenón and his “Identities Are Changeable” project. And onNov. 7, Charles Lloyd brought his cross-cultural “Wild Man Dance” proj-ect to a crowd o eager listeners. Opening or his set was the supple anddazzling igran Hamasyan rio.

    But this reviewer was pulled away by the lure o catching the remark-able Paal Nilssen-Love and his Large Unit, one o the most stellar exam-ples o a ree-improvised big band project. Tey have invented theirown sense o groove, removed rom any other group’s, and reached newheights and new ambient dimensions in the process. Te un olding here-and-nowness o the set proved airly overwhelming. —Josef Woodard

    Saxophonist Miguel Zenón (left) and drummer HenryCole perform at the Berlin Jazz Festival.

    C A M I L L E B L A K E



    Artists Reflect on Allen Toussaint’s LegacyRARELY HAS A SINGLE ARTIST CONTRIBUTED IN SUCH A VAST ANDlasting way to both the New Orleans music canon and the larger scopeo American r&b, jazz and rock as Allen oussaint did over the courseo his decades-spanning career. Tat act became even more poignant inthe wake o his death on Nov. 10, as musicians rom New Orleans andbeyond paid tribute to his li e’s work.

    Within hours o receiving news that oussaint, 77, had died o a heartattack while on tour with his band in Madrid, artists began to light upsocial media. Many o them shared personal thoughts about the titan themusic world had lost.

    Among them was Meters bassist George Porter Jr., who marveled atoussaint’s ability to help

    artists “ nd stuff in them-selves that they didn’t knowwas there.”

    “Your talent as a musi-cian and a producer hasbeen a major role model inhow I approach my ownmusic and how I interactwith other musicians onstage and in the studio,”Porter wrote. “You are atrue legend and have lef alegacy like no other.”

    Del eayo Marsalis, who

    worked in oussaint’s stu-dio as a high school student,

    called oussaint “a great mentor with a generous heart” who “was able tocapture the joy, intrigue and exuberance o New Orleans music over thecourse o six decades.”

    Pianist Lawrence Sieberth spoke in more speci c terms aboutoussaint’s approach to interpreting music.

    “You can’t play an Allen oussaint song with a chord sheet. It’s thespirit. Tat’s it completely. It’s a certain level o reedom and putting yourheart into the music. It’s not about regurgitating the music; it’s about let-ting it ow through you.”

    In lieu o a jazz uneral, oussaint’s amily opted to host a visitationollowed by a tribute and memorial service that drew thousands to the

    Orpheum Teater in New Orleans on Nov. 20.Following an emotional per ormance o “Let’s Live” by Cyril Neville,

    New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu addressed the somber audience.“Losing Allen is New Orleans’ musical Katrina,” he said. “We’ll

    recover, but it will never be the same.”Te next three hours eatured moving tributes rom artists such

    as Dr. John, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Jimmy Buffett, BozScaggs, Elvis Costello and many others.

    Afer a sermon, the pianist’s longtime reed player Brian “Breeze”Cayolle per ormed a plaintive rendition o “Ave Maria.”

    Te event concluded with the musicians returning to the stage or anemotional per ormance o “I’ll Fly Away.” Finally, pallbearers ollowedmembers o the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, rombone Shorty andother players in a processional out o the auditorium. As they reachedthe street, hundreds o mourners ell in line behind them, breaking

    into song as the casket was ushered past Canal Street to oussaint’snal resting place. —Jennifer Odell

    Allen Toussaint (1938–2015)

    © M A R K S H E L D O N

  • 8/19/2019 DownBeat Revista de Jazz


    W hen Miho Hazama headlined atJazz Standard on Sept. 30 with her13-piece chamber band m_unit,she proved hersel an engaging new voice onNew York’s jazz scene. Te 29-year-old com-poser and arranger—who grew up in okyoand now lives in Harlem—represents the nextgeneration o large ensemble leaders, ably join-ing the ranks o such established orchestra lead-ers as Maria Schneider and Ryan ruesdell.

    In act, Schneider in many ways has servedas a mentor. “Maria has helped me a lot, includ-ing helping me to get my rst dream show atJazz Standard,” said Hazama, who graduatedwith a master’s degree in composition rom theManhattan School o Music (where she stud-ied with Jim McNeely) in 2012. “I met Maria atMSM where she taught a master class ... I gaveher my rst CD [2013’s Journey o Journey ] andshe loved it. Since then, she has supported andencouraged me.”

    Hazama, whose second album is the spirited

    ime River (Sunnyside), has been garner-ing impressive stature as a composer. Last year

    she won the 16th Annual Charlie Parker JazzCompetition Prize or her work “Somnambulant,”and the year be ore she received the Japanese 24thAnnual Idemitsu Award—the rst time a jazzcomposer has won the prestigious prize. In 2011she received an ASCAP Foundation Young JazzComposer Award.

    Hazama’s music is complex, teeming with

    unexpected twists and jolting turns as well aspockets o renzy that lead into wonder. Case inpoint: “Te Urban Legend,” the uplifing open-ing tune o ime River . It has an element oswing in 5/16 time but also eatures horns dart-ing over lush strings, a scampering rhythm thatleads to a rolling piano solo and a tenor saxo-phone sprint be ore the band returns to thetune’s catchy moti that appears, disappearsand reappears throughout the song. “Te inspi-ration or this comes rom the music I composewhen I travel,” Hazama said.

    Hazama didn’t ully plunge into jazz until

    she came to New York, ocusing primarily onthe compositional aspects o the music. “I chose

    to be a composer because I was interested ingeometry and logical concepts I could explore,”she explained.

    Even so, in delving into math-inspired jazz,Hazama concluded that her music needed amore soul ul depth. “Te rst time I showedsome o my earlier music to my mother, shewas shocked,” she said. “I realized that I have to

    keep in mind that I want to entertain as well asbe an artist. ... Instead o ocusing on harmonyonly, I needed to keep melody in mind to makemy music memorable to the listener.”

    As revealed in her Jazz Standard show,Hazama exudes con dence. She doesn’t shyaway rom asking marquee artists to guest onher recordings. For Journey o Journey , sheenlisted Ste on Harris and Steve Wilson. For

    ime River , she brought in Joshua Redman andGil Goldstein—both musical heroes.

    Hazama’s musical introduction toGoldstein came rom listening to his produc-

    tion and arrangements on Michael Brecker’s2003 Quindectet album Wide Angles. While shewas working as an arranger/orchestrator withRyuichi Sakamoto, she discovered that he hadworked with Goldstein and knew him well. Soshe emailed him and sent him a copy o her rstalbum. He replied with a link to a You ube songhe per ormed that reminded her o a song she hadwritten but never recorded. “It’s one o my avor-ites that I had written or a quintet, so I rewroteit so that he could play it with m_unit,” she said.Goldstein takes the accordion spotlight on theemotive “Under Te Same Moon,” which he also

    per ormed with m_unit at the Jazz Standard.“Miho wants to make her big band not

    sound like a big band,” Goldstein said. “Shebrings the aesthetic and sensibility rom Mike’swork to hersel , and she’s special in how sheknows how to compose the licks and nuanc-es. She does what all grown-up composersdo: express a distinctive idea and develop andun old it. It’s that un olding that makes herpart o that young generation o artists that arewiser than their years. A lot o jazz musiciansare interested in covering old territory, but she’ssomeone who’s taking the development o jazz

    a step urther into the uture. She’s so gifed,she could write a piece or 12 accordions and itwould sound great.”

    Hazama wanted to close ime River withsomething that originated outside the realmo jazz. She opted to turn the alternativemetal band A Per ect Circle’s gripping tune“Magdalena” into a wildly hook-laden, swing-ing take with an exciting, jump- or-joy end-ing. “Almost all the songs on my album are ina minor key, so I wanted to end in a major keyand have lots o bright colors,” she said. “I want-ed to make a closer, like a bonus track. So this is

    per ect. It’s the happiest song ever.”—Dan Ouellette



    MIHO HAZAMALogical Concepts

    S H I T O M I C H I ( V A L E

    . )

  • 8/19/2019 DownBeat Revista de Jazz


    F or Christian Howes, jazz de es de ni-tion. Te violinist’s new album, AmericanSpirit (Resonance Records), is a beau-ti ully eclectic work that speaks to his disdain

    or pedantic debates over what jazz is. It’s alsoa celebration o the United States’ deep musi-cal heritage, in uenced by Howes’ U.S. StateDepartment visit to stri e-torn Ukraine in 2014.

    “No matter what opinion you have on what-ever issue, you should eel proud that you areAmerican,” said Howes. “I we ocus on the thingswe share, the qualities we agree are important,then we can get rid o some o the polarization,the nitpicking. Which is the same thing I’m say-ing about music. Why are we nitpicking aboutwhat’s jazz and what’s not jazz?” he said. “It’s aboutmusic, and music is about spirit.”

    Mixing traditional jazz, modern jazz, r&b,blues, olk and classical music, Howes’ new CDrepresents an effort by the 43-year-old to cometo terms with changing li e priorities. Te mar-ried ather o two is a critically acclaimed jazzmanwith a diverse musical range comparable to that oJean-Luc Ponty. He also is an educator commit-ted to breaking down established notions aboutthe violin’s role in improvising and composition.

    From age 5, however, the prime ocus oHowes’ upbringing in Columbus, Ohio, waspreparing or a career as a classical violinist.Ten, at 19, Howes’ li e took an unexpectedturn: He was arrested or LSD trafficking andsentenced to spend six to 25 years in jail. It wasa rightening development. But being incarcer-ated expanded his understanding o humanity,

    and it broadened his musical palette. Playing arange o tunes or the prison church congrega-

    tion grati ed a long-suppressed urge to exploredifferent musical styles.

    He was released afer our years on goodbehavior. Soon aferward, he decided to rejectan offer o ull-time employment with theColumbus Symphony to throw himsel intogigging at local clubs and restaurants.

    For a State Department concert in Kiev, theUkrainian capital, Howes and a youth orches-tra teamed up to per orm Scott Routenberg’s“Concerto For Jazz Violin.” It was a tense time,as a violent, deadly battle raged between govern-ment orces and pro-Russian rebels. Howes wasastounded as spectators, giving the orchestra andhim a standing ovation, suddenly broke into arendition o Ukraine’s anthem o solidarity.

    Back in the studio, Howes ocused on shortsolos rather than virtuosic displays whenrecording American Spirit .

    “Te desire [during the sessions was] toexpress exactly what needs to be expressed andnothing less,” said bassist Ben Williams, parto a lineup that included pianist Josh Nelson,organist/pianist Hamilton Hardin, drum-mer Gregory Hutchinson and vocalist PollyGibbons. “A lot o music today is a little toosel -grati ying.”

    For Howes, the album speaks to music’spurpose and power: “When I was younger, itwas all about climbing the ladder o success andproving mysel . Now, I want my energy direct-ed toward something bigger, something mean-ing ul. I I play music, there’s a bigger reason[ or doing it]. It’s about creating meaning or

    people, it’s about making people eel good. It’sabout expressing humanity.” —Michael Barris


    CHRISTIAN HOWESPurpose & Power

  • 8/19/2019 DownBeat Revista de Jazz

    20/10820 DOWNBEAT FEBRUARY 2016

    N ow promoting its third album orCunei orm, Golden Years, Norway’saward-winning band Pixel contin-ues to build momentum. Double-bassist/vocal-ist Ellen Andrea Wang, drummer Jon AudunBaar, trumpeter Jonas Kilmork Vemøy and sax-ophonist Harald Lassen tore things up at last

    all’s Stockholm Jazz Festival, playing to a ullhouse at the jazz club Fasching. With memberscomposing music or the band, their uniqueblend o danceable jazz with indie pop and rockcontinues to include tight arrangements, ampleroom or blowing and etching vocals.

    All our have careers and collaborations otheir own, with everyone approaching 30.But, as Lassen, who came up with the title orGolden Years, noted, “Te music is about stay-ing young.” Regarding the ollow-up to 2014’sWe Are All Pixels and 2012’s Reminder , he said,“Tis is the best record we’ve made so ar, and,

    or sure, they are golden years or us.”Te members o Pixel are longtime students

    and ans o American jazz. Tey are also, nat-urally, students o Norway’s jazz history, andthey’re ready to make their own mark in thatgreat lineage. “We have had a really strong jazzscene in Norway or the past 40 years,” Lassensaid. “People are still talking about Jan Garbarekand his group with Arild Andersen. But we areready to change that.” (His bandmates chuckledin delight at that statement.)

    Indeed, Pixel wants to distance themselvesrom the stereotype o what ans have come to

    think o as “Nordic jazz.” “We’re somethingelse,” Wang said with a broad smile. “With our

    music, we want to challenge the [notion that]Nordic jazz is introverted, sel -important. Welike more the joy in the music, and to have theconnection with the audience and to play withmore energy. We’re singing, everybody.”

    While early on Wang was more central toPixel’s sound, Golden Years re ects a collec-tive quartet sound. Nowadays each memberhas an equivalent role. “Vocals can be added asan instrument [by everyone]—not like a sing-er in ront o the band, but they become a parto the band that is natural,” Wang said. “ All theinstruments have an important voice in Pixel.”

    Te band—whose busy schedule includesshows at Ronnie Scott’s in London (Jan. 4) andBimhuis in Amsterdam (Jan. 5)—are road war-riors whose malleable songs evolve over thecourse o a tour. Te compositions are alsotrans ormed during the recording process.

    “Last year [2014] was a very productive yearor us,” Vemøy said. “We had almost 100 con-

    certs, so we got to play a lot together. GoldenYears was recorded in ve days. With thisrecord, we wanted to take everybody’sideas, not throw anything away be ore itwas tested out and tried; and we were veryopen to each other.”

    Te conversation concluded in Fasching’sbackstage green room with a discussion aboutrecording a live album that would capture theonstage spontaneity or which Pixel is known.Wang sees per orming their songs live as anopportunity or re nement: “Tis is the un

    part,” she said, “knowing it can always geta little better.” —John Ephland


    PIXEL Seeking Joy

    L A S S E F L O D O

  • 8/19/2019 DownBeat Revista de Jazz

    21/108FEBRUARY 2016 DOWNBEAT 21

    I t can take ages to become an overnight suc-cess in Nashville. Case in point: guitaristColin Linden. A longtime Music City x-ture, he’s toured with Bob Dylan and EmmylouHarris, led two trios whose critical success-es predated the current Americana boom andbuilt a reputation as a multi-instrumentalistand producer blessed with taste and integrity.

    “I’ve played on 400 albums,” he insists over thebuzz and clatter o co ee machines and conversa-tion at the ca e Eighth and Roast. “But I’ve onlyrecently been given the chance to record requent-ly with musicians who are really experienced.Working with [music director] Buddy Miller onthe Nashville V show has made it possible.”

    ABC’s country music prime-time soap hasput Linden on the ast track to opportunity.“I’m the per ormance supervisor,” Linden says.“I play about 75 percent o the guitar you hearon the show. When we go on the road, I playwith almost all o the actors. I like to think I’minvolved pretty deeply in developing the nuancethat the cast members bring to their roles.”

    Tese developments are like the ignitionswitch on a vehicle Linden has been buildingsince his ormative years in oronto—the scenethat spawned Robbie Robertson, Amos Garrett,Amos Wilcox and other blues-in ected guitar-ists who nourished him as a singer and player.

    Linden sees everything he plays throughthe prism o the blues. Tis perspective is alsolargely what drew him to bassist John Dymondand drummer Gary Craig, his musical asso-

    ciates or more than 25 years. (KeyboardistRichard Bell was an equally vital part o the

    group until his death rom multiple myeloma in2007.) Sticking with the same players or so longinvolves walking a wire between playing intui-tively and lapsing into predictability; thus ar,according to Craig, they’ve kept their balance.

    “Tere’s nothing more valuable than hav-ing many, many years o playing with peopleyou can relate to,” the drummer says. “I’ve got-ten to know Colin’s phrases and moti s. WhenI hear them coming, I can accompany themhowever I want because I know how they’regoing to happen.”

    It took longer or the trio to come up with aname than to establish their synchronici-ty. Known now as Te Rotting Matadors, theyhold the center on Linden’s latest album, thesuperb Rich In Love (Stony Plain). Enhanced byguest appearances rom harmonicist CharlieMusselwhite, keyboardists Reese Wynans and

    im Lauer and vocalist Amy Helm (daughtero Levon), the program moves rom slinky andsoul ul on “I Need Water” to roadhouse raw on“Te Hurt” and Delta deep on the title trackAnd yes, a current o blues ows rom track totrack; that wellspring is ar rom dry.

    “I’m touched by the music o the past,”Linden says. “Te great blues artists are likemountains: You can build the biggest city youwant next to them, but it’ll still be dwar ed byHowlin’ Wol , Muddy Waters, Blind LemonJefferson, Robert Johnson, Son House, WillieLee Brown and Reverend Gary Davis. I’m a or-ward-looking guy. I want to do better than I do

    now. But always, I do my best to represent myheroes, too.” —Bob Doerschuk


    COLIN LINDENPrism of the Blues L A U R

    A G O D W I N

  • 8/19/2019 DownBeat Revista de Jazz


    Snarky Puppy members Jay Jennings (left), Mike Maher, Jason Thomas,Michael League, Nate Werth, Shaun Martin, Chris Bullock and Justin Stanton

  • 8/19/2019 DownBeat Revista de Jazz



    S narky Puppy has become a monster—albeit ariendly, unky monster—and all throughits own ercely independent means anddevices. Tis jazz band out o University o North

    exas, ormed in 2002 and now riding high withworld tours and a quickly expanding discographyon its own GroundUP label, has become a modelo sel -reliance. Rare in the jazz world is the DIYsuccess story that results in a truly global reach.Afer doggedly working just beneath the radar oryears, Snarky Puppy has hit it big, with a Grammyaward (Best R&B Per ormance or “Something,”

    eaturing vocalist Lalah Hathaway, rom the 2013album Family Dinner, Volume One), strong sales

    or 2015’s band-plus-orchestra CD Sylva (with theMetropole Orkest) and a victory in the Jazz Groupcategory o the 2015 DownBeat Readers Poll.Additionally, Sylva is nominated in the categoryBest Contemporary Instrumental Album or theGrammy Awards that will be presented on Feb. 15.

    In a way, the band’s new theme song could be

    “Sleeper,” rom 2014’s We Like It Here, whichstarts slowly be ore kicking into a higher, groove-consuming gear. Te band boasts a personallytended, organically grown, very enthusiastic anbase, a phenomenon that invites comparisons toPhish and Dave Matthews Band.

    Snarky Puppy’s new album, Family Dinner,Volume wo, is decidedly homegrown yet wildlyambitious, with a diverse roster o guests thatincludes vocalists David Crosby, Susana Baca,Becca Stevens and Sali Keita, as well as guitaristCharlie Hunter and saxophonist Jeff Coffin.

    Te new album also marks the band’s entry intothe major-label world, via an interesting partnership.Michael League, the band’s powerhouse yet sof-spoken leader, is quick to explain that SnarkyPuppy was not “signed by” a major label, and thatthe album is issued on the band’s own imprint,GroundUP, but will be distributed by UniversalMusic Classics. It’s an important distinction—onein keeping with his overall vision and career goals.

  • 8/19/2019 DownBeat Revista de Jazz

    24/10824 DOWNBEAT FEBRUARY 2016

    “We’re still independent, 100 percent—youdon’t give that up easily afer 12 years,” Leaguesaid. “Tat has given us a lot o leverage over anynegotiations that have taken place with majors,because they know walking into the situationthat we’re not in a position where we really needthem. Tat’s great, because then you can real-ly talk as peers, and not as suits and plebeians.”

    All o these converging energies and spot-lights stoke a basic question among critics andans who have only recently heard about the

    band: Just who and what is this thing calledSnarky Puppy?

    For newbies, the best introduction to theband is to attend one o its concerts, where thein ectious energy, ambience, groove power andtune ulness come through—especially whenthe crowd is stocked with avid believers. InSeptember, the band was greeted by a sold-outhouse—an increasingly common experience

    or them—at the 1,700-seat UCLA Royce Hall,a ew days afer they made their rst main-stageappearance at the Monterey Jazz Festival. (Teband’s previous Monterey shows were in themuch smaller Garden Stage.)

    Indeed, Snarky Puppy’s steep ascent in thelast couple o years can be gauged by venue sizes.In the past, per orming in Los Angeles meant agig at the showcase club Te Mint, whereas thisyear the band played the massive HollywoodBowl during the Playboy Jazz Festival.

    Te band duly rocked Royce Hall in a showthat was opened by another young band draw-ing on usion sounds: Kneebody. Much o theSnarky Puppy material, stretched and alteredto suit the moment o this show, was rom theband’s last “normal” instrumental album, WeLike It Here, including the jazz-rocky jabs andintricacies o “What About Me?” and the moreballadic and soothing contours o “Kite.”

    Stylistically, Snarky Puppy cuts a uniquepro le. While the term fusion seems appropri-ate—especially regarding the interplay o elec-tric bass, crunchy-toned electric guitar andkeyboard heat on retro synths and keyboardsand a power ul drum/percussion orce in therhythm section—there are strong elements o alittle big band, clearly re ected in the arrange-ments or horns. Elements o A rican and Latinmusic, plus plenty o ’70s unk and soul-jazz,are in the mix as well, and the melodic and evenromantically inclined instincts and sometimesmini-epic structures o League’s compositionsare reminiscent o the Pat Metheny Group.(Metheny has proudly expressed his admira-tion or Snarky Puppy.)

    While in Los Angeles, League sat down or along interview over an Iron Duke Stud-Finderbeer at Good Microbrew & Grill in the hip neigh-borhood Silver Lake. Midway through the inter- view, our server came by, gazed at my record-

    er and asked who League was connected with.“Snarky Puppy,” she mused, “I’ve heard o that. Is

    that a web comedy?” “No,” he said with a smile,“but it could be. We just played at the HollywoodBowl. Maybe you saw our name advertised.”

    As it turns out, the name Snarky Puppy wasstolen rom his brother when League neededto advertise his new project or a humble col-lege gig in a pizza parlor basement. Te unlikelymoniker has attained its own cruising altitudeas a band name, a re erence to a sound—and,yes, a brand. But it resonates with the music towhich it is attached, both accessible and muscu-

    lar, a kindly creature with a potential bite.Putting the band’s story-so- ar in a com-

    pact nutshell, ounder-bassist-arranger-com-poser-CEO League said, “I started with mybuddies, and we just played local gigs or ree.We made a little record in a local studio andbooked a tour, which was more like a collegeroad trip. And that begat another tour andanother tour and then we made another record.Ten, it started snowballing.

    “Man, I sent emails to every booking agen-cy and every management company and everyrecord label I could think o . Nobody cared.

    When you do that or seven years and you startto have some success, you start to realize, ‘Weactually don’t need those things.’ Tat’s when Istarted to eel like the Catalans or the Quebecois

    eel: ‘We are independent. Tat’s who we are.’”Saxophonist Chris Bullock recalled the

    many rough and lean years be ore the recentupturn. “It had been a slow burn or a longtime,” he said. “For so many years, we weregrinding on the road, playing our music in ronto empty rooms—or rooms with the same num-ber o people that there are onstage and ndinghippie houses, anywhere we would crash just

    to save some money, because we weren’t mak-ing any playing gigs.” Fast- orward to now, and

    this nine-piece-plus band is making ends morethan meet and plotting its uture moves.

    High on the list o League’s in uences, interms o what grew to be the Snarky Puppy jazz-

    unk sound, were keyboardists Bernard Wrightand Don Blackman.

    “Really, the school that I think Snarky Puppycomes rom, i you want to nail it down—whilethe Metheny Group is de nitely an in uence andWeather Report is de nitely an in uence—we’remore rom the school o Don Blackman,” League

    said. “He played with Miles and loads o people,and had a solo career. But my mentor is a guynamed Bernard Wright, who also recorded withMiles. He grew up as one o the Jamaica boys, withMarcus Miller and Lenny White. So Nard wasmy mentor. Donald Blackman was Nard’s men-tor and a guy named Weldon Irvine was DonaldBlackman’s mentor.

    “It all goes back to this Jamaica, Queens,black thing o really knowing jazz but also real-ly knowing how to groove and how to play r&b.It’s this weird school that is super unknown, butits in uence is elt second-hand, in a big way.”

    League grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, aband he described as one o his biggest in u-ences, but he was drawn to the groove elemento a variety o genres. “I grew up with JamesBrown and Stevie Wonder and Zeppelin, andgroove and pop bands,” he said. “But also, Iwas in jazz school and loved the jazz thing.So there de nitely was an element o want-ing to blend those things, but that real blackAmerican music—that thing didn’t happenuntil our third or ourth year. Tat was awhole new world or me.”

    apping into the musical languages and

    structures o pop and r&b has always been apart o League’s m.o. as a composer, and band

    Snarky Puppy's Chris Bullock (left), Justin Stanton, Mike Maher,Michael League, Bob Lanzetti and Mark Lettieri performat the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver, B.C., on Nov. 23.


    N D Y H A W K E S

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    conceptualist. “In today’s world,” he says,“with peoples’ attention spans and aesthet-ics and pre erences, you’re already swimmingupstream with a band without a vocalist. Sowe do everything we can to provide moti s andmaking sure that the grooves are always inter-esting, that the melodies are always singableand catchy, and that compositionally, there is

    lots o stimuli— or us, as well as the listener.”He paused to clari y the point. “I don’t everollow the listener,” League said. “I eel very

    strongly in the idea that the artist should leadthe listener and not ollow. But when I saythese things about the music being accessi-ble or catchy, I mean that as much or us as orthe audience. We’re guys who, when we get inthe van, we don’t turn on amodern jazz album. We lis-ten to Led Zeppelin, CSNY,Smashing Pumpkins andMichael Jackson.”

    Diversity o tastes andskill sets comes natural-ly to the musicians in theband’s stable. rumpeter/keyboardist Justin Stantonadmits that the band is “amulti-headed beast. Wehave a lot o interests, so we just try to cram it in as bestwe can. We get bored easi-ly.” From a more practical, on-the-job perspec-tive, League comments, “We’re all session guys,too, and are sidemen or anyone rom ErykahBadu to Kirk Franklin to Justin imberlake, to jazz guys, like Wayne Krantz.”

    In terms o its current personnel list, SnarkyPuppy is, by its nature, a malleable and change-able beast, with musicians shifing in and outo a given tour or album project. “Over thecourse o 2015,” League says by way o an exam-ple, “probably 25 guys will have played gigs asSnarky Puppy. But maybe 13 do the records.”

    League said that the expandable personnelstrategy was “totally born out o necessity.When we were rst getting started, I said yes toevery gig. Tat’s one o my things in li e: I eel likeeverything is an opportunity, and I don’t like thepossibility o an opportunity lost.

    “I would say yes to gigs and then guyscouldn’t make it. I’d have to nd another guy,who learned the music and played the gig. I

    gured, ‘Well, shoot, he’s already done all thework and sounds great. So the next time theguitar player can’t do it, I’ll invite him. Ormaybe we’ll have both o them, anyway.’ We just kind o accumulate members as we meetguys who t the ethos and have a great attitude,who are responsible, play great and can grooveand interact. Tey should have that two-mind-ed thing, with jazz interaction but also the sen-

    sibility o ‘I like to play a song.’”Keeping that critical balance o jazz uidity

    and supportive song-consciousness is a key ac-tor in what gives the band its identity—amidstthe admitted swirl o con usion over what tocall and where to put the band in the musi-cal landscape. “When people call us a usionband,” League says, “I kind o cringe a little bit,because a lot o what people consider usion isnot something I would like. But when they call

    us jazz, I eel like that’s a little more accurate,but I still don’t eel like that’s really right.“I guess we’re more similar to the Jazz

    Messengers or Mingus or Ellington or the HotSeven than we are to modern-day jazz guys. Inthat way, I think we are jazz, because we’re tak-ing the jazz tradition and doing our thing with it,which relates to today.” But he draws the line when

    it comes to applying the band’s approach direct-ly to the modern jazz scene, as such, adding, “Weimprovise all the time, and every night we playeach song differently. But all o the improvisationis built around serving the composition.”

    wo o the longer-standing core memberso the band are Stanton and saxophonistBullock, both o whom eased into the Snarkyslipstream while attending UN , afer intend-ing to head into possible careers as teachersand/or bandleaders in academic settings.

    Dazzling keyboardist Cory Henry has beenin the old about ve years, and by now hascemented his place in the ranks. Tis year, heis slated to release two albums o his own onthe GroundUp label. Henry, who wears his vintage in uences o Herbie Hancock, ChickCorea, Bernie Worrell and Billy Preston well onHammond B-3 and his Moog, asserts, “SnarkyPuppy is a mixture o so many different things.It can be anything on any given day, becausethe band plays so much. And within that ree-dom, in a way, we all still practice restraint. Welet the music grow reely.”

    Te recent spate o upward mobility or theband has been greeted thank ully, but rest-ing on laurels or slowing up the ambitiouspace is anything but an option in the organi-zation. Following a dense all tour o Europeand the Northwest, and a three-day break or

    Tanksgiving, the band dove into the studio tobegin work on its next album, settling in or a

    solid week o work at the Sonic Ranch studiooutside o El Paso, exas. By the time FamilyDinner, Volume wo is released on Feb. 12,another album will ostensibly be “in the can.”Tat’s the way this band rolls, and keeps rolling.

    One o the distinguishing points o thealbum still in progress is its old-school meth-odology in the studio. Tey planned to track 21

    songs in a week in exas, to be whittled down tothe nished album, with no guest vocalists ororchestra involved—and also no live audienceor lm crew on hand, eatures o the band’s ear-lier three albums.

    Whereas the rst Family Dinner wasrecorded in the theater setting o the JeffersonCenter in Roanoke, Virginia, the new Volume

    wo went down a differ-ent path. Hunkering downat the increasingly popu-lar Esplanade studio in NewOrleans, the band rehearsedits various songs and invit-ed its guests over the courseo several days, leading upto the tracking be ore a liveaudience.

    Bullock said that “thewhole band arrived about

    ve or six days be ore all theguest artists showed up. Westarted rehearsing and learn-

    ing all the music, guring out who was going toplay what, and how. As the artists started showingup, it was really cool. We had created this sched-ule that allowed them to have a lot o ree time, sothey could come and rehearse their tune and thenbe ree to go do what they wanted.

    “But what ended up happening, the endresult, was that the artists stuck and hung andwere vibing and sitting in on everyone else’srehearsals. So there was this really beauti ulenergy off everybody together, in the room, cre-ating this thing together. It added to the energy.

    “David Crosby was someone who stayed orevery moment he could sit in a room and watchpeople making music. He was there, laughing,acting like a kid, having un and cracking jokes.It was just a cool energy, because everyone stuckaround and wanted to be a part o the process,and witness what everyone else was doing. Itcreated that amily vibe—not to be cheesy, butit elt like that by the end o the week when itcame time to actually record the music in ronto the studio audience.”

    League explained that during the sessions,“Every last person was o the same mind. Wheneveryone was together in the room, everybody just changed. It was crazy. Tere are no greenrooms, so nobody had any privacy. At the stu-dio, there is the main studio space and then akitchen downstairs, which was like the green

    room. Everyone was together.“At any given point during the day, you’d

    “We’re taking the jazztradition and doingour thing with it.”


    —Michael League

  • 8/19/2019 DownBeat Revista de Jazz


    walk downstairs and Crosby would be singinga song on the couch and Olov [Johansson] romVäsen would be playing nyckelharpa and JacobCollier would be playing melodica. It was crazy.I don’t even know how to explain it. It was likecamp.”

    While Volume One mostly stuck to anr&b-driven “sophisto-soul” ormat, the new

    Family Dinner ventures out into the world,to the Peruvian chanteuse Baca, the Swedisholk-rock group Väsen and, with Keita, to Mali

    (where League traveled to record Keita in hishome studio).

    Keyboardist Henry elt that the sessionswere one o the most creative projects in whichhe has participated. “It was a world ull o peo-ple with the concept o no boundaries, mixingtextures and creating colors that are vibrantand new,” he remembered. “Te band stretchedas ar as we could to make each song as differ-ent stylistically as you can, while still making it

    eel good.”Snarky Puppy, a 21st-century wonder in theextended quarters o the jazz scene, may be—along with groups like Kamasi Washington’sWest Coast Get Down collective—harbingerso new musical models rising up or the vast tal-ent pool o young musicians acing a ragment-ed music business.

    Stanton pointed out that “the model is so

    different rom bands that were similar to us inthe ’70s and even the ’80s, in the nancial stateo things in music and how it is supported. I eellike, in a lot o ways, we’ve had to rely on ourown inventiveness, in a way, and just persevereto try to make things work and push things or-ward on our own.

    “Luckily, it has caught on. We don’t takeany o that or granted. We want to just keepthe momentum going as much as we can andkeep making music together, because we enjoydoing it. As cliché and cheesy as that sounds,that’s why everybody is doing it.”

    League views the long haul and rapid rise othe band in a late-blooming, positive light.“From the very beginning,” he said, “i we had

    a stylist and a branding agent and a managerand handlers, all this kind o stuff, advisors, lit-tle musical Karl Roves behind the scenes … Idon’t think we’d be the band that we are.

    “I eel very ortunate that we had this incu-bation period where no one knew about us andno one cared. We were able to kind o grow like

    a ungus, in whatever direction that we grewin. Ten, by the time anyone ound out aboutus, we know who we are. Tis is who we are.We know because we have years behind us,being ourselves. We tried all these things andthey didn’t work, musically. Tese things work,musically, and we love these things.

    “So I’m glad now, in retrospect, that no onecared about us.” DB

    Snarky Puppy at the 2015 Montreal Jazz Festival M I C H A E L J A C K S O N


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    Paquito D'Rivera at the 2015 Barcelona Jazz Festival (Photo: LorenzoDuaso/Voll-Damm Festival Internacional de Jazz de Barcelona)

  • 8/19/2019 DownBeat Revista de Jazz


    In the years since DownBeat pro ledPaquito D’Rivera in 2009, the67-year-old clarinetist/saxophonist/composer/arranger has urtherexpanded an already ormidable

    resume. Over the intervening six years,D’Rivera released six albums—most

    recently Aires ropical (Sunnyside)—eachdocumenting a ully realized project witha distinctive character unto itsel , uni edby his brilliant musicianship and tonalcharisma. He earned a 2011 Grammy orBest Classical Contemporary Composition

    or “Panamericana Suite,” and a LatinGrammy or Best Latin Jazz Album or theCD bearing that title, while Song For Maura,

    rom 2013, won that year’s Grammy or BestLatin Jazz Album, an honor also bestowedupon it by the 2014 Latin Grammy Awards.

    D’Rivera continues to compose, to

    per orm as a soloist with orchestras andensembles around the world, and, mostimportantly, to present repertoire spanninghis 35 years as a bandleader with his virtuoso working quintet (Diego Urcola,trumpet and valve trombone; Alex Brown,piano; Oscar Stagnaro, bass; Eric Doob,drums).

    D’Rivera was about to embark on a roadtrip with that unit when DownBeat methim in early November at the New Yorkoffice o Sunnyside Records, the distributor

    o his new album,Paquito And Manzanero ,comprising primarily Brown’s inspiredarrangements o songs by iconic Mexicancomposer Alejandro Manzanero.

    Afer a week o concerts in Florida andLouisiana, D’Rivera would visit the MiamiBook Fair to discuss improvisation and

    the lasting power o classics in music andliterature with Ilan Stevens, the translatoro My Sax Life, his picaresque, poignant,amusing memoir. Te intention wasto publicize a new epistolary memoir,Letters to Yeyito: Lessons From a Life in Music (Restless Books), in which D’Riverarepurposes and recontextualizes material

    rom My Sax Life and its 2011 ollow-up, Portraits and Landscapes , but alsoadds much that is resh. Te episodes areresponses to a letter that D’Rivera receivedin Cuba a hal -century ago rom a young

    correspondent named Yeyito asking thethen-16-year-old rst-call musician—whowas already well known on the island as amember o the eatro Musical de Havana—

    or tips on pursuing a career in music.“Yeyito made a mistake,” D’Rivera

    recalled. “He never wrote the return address.Afer Portraits and Landscapes came out, a

    riend called and said, ‘I want you to writea book o letters to an aspiring musician,a young student.’ Tis became a greatopportunity to answer Yeyito’s question.”



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    DownBeat: The first chapter ofLetters to Yeyito , “Sherlock Holmesin Havana,” is a vivid account of theday you met Dizzy Gillespie, whosepresence permeates the book.

    Paquito D’Rivera: Part o that story is true,part is my invention. Dizzy showed up withArturo Sandoval at a grocery store in my neigh-borhood in Havana and lef me a note. Tebodeguero asked i I’d received it. I thought itwas a joke. “Tere was a black guy here dressedlike Sherlock Holmes.” I said, “Shit, that mustbe Dizzy Gillespie.” O course, thebodeguero hadno idea who Dizzy Gillespie was. Meeting Dizzymarked my li e. Afer I came here, he and MarioBauza kept urging me to play clarinet, which I’dput away or years, and he gave me approval orthe Pan-American thing I was doing.

    In the U.S. I had an opportunity to create aworld or mysel learning about the rhythms

    rom Latin America and South America,helped by people like Oscar Stagnaro, who is

    rom Peru, in the middle o South America, sohe knows Brazilian music, the Andean thing,cumbia rom Colombia. I learned Venezuelanwaltzes rom the guitarist Fareed Haque rom

    Chicago, who was playing waltzes by AntonioLauro that I’d heard classical guitarists playin Havana. On my third record I recorded“Wapango,” which is a Mexican rhythm. Tat’s

    when I started playing Brazilian music, too. Ilove Brazilian music; it’s the most per ect com-bination o melody, rhythm and harmony inone style.

    Much of Letters to Yeyito is abouttravel. How often were you able to getoff the island before you defected?

    Te rst time I went out afer they tookpower was in 1968, when we went to EasternEurope. Wherever we arrived, the chie o thedelegation kept all the passports. You couldn’tdecide on your day off, “I am in Russia; I amgoing to take a erry to Finland.” It’s very differentto travel as an independent person.

    What do you think would havehappened if you’d stayed in Cuba?

    I am sometimes a little polemical. I you’repolemical in this country, your problem can bepersonal with people who don’t like your invec-tive or have a different opinion, but that’s aboutit. But being polemical in a totalitarian systemcan be atal. So what would have happened tome is unpredictable, because when I see some-thing I don’t agree with, I have to say it. I didthat when I lived there. I didn’t get in trouble

    because I was a popular musician with Irakereand had many riends, but that was going toend any minute. Chucho [Valdés] once told me:“Man, you have to stop all this bullshit; now

    Deep ConnectionIn his memoir Letters to Yeyito (Restless

    Books), Paquito D’Rivera details his life andmusical experiences in the form of letters to afan named Yeyito. The book chronicles every-thing from his youth in Cuba to his work as a

    sideman for Dizzy Gillespie. In the followingexcerpt, D’Rivera describes his friendship withthe Cuban writer Guillermo Cabrera Infante.

    It all began one afternoon at the end ofthe ’60s at the Antillas Bar of the HotelHabana Libre [the old Hilton]. The bar is locat-ed at the entrance of the Salón Caribe, wherethe show goes on every night. …

    Since it was still early, the bar was desert-ed. I was alone on one of the wicker stoolsdrinking a Cuba libre. There were only a cou-ple of Canadian tourists sipping their mojitosslowly and ceremoniously at the small tables,

    when my friend Nicolás Reinoso walked inhastily. Without even saying hello, takingadvantage that the barman was far fromus catering to the tourists, Nicolás lookedaround, took a book from his pocket, andpassed it to me.

    “Take a discreet glance at this book,” hesaid. “If you’re interested, take it home, butreturn it as soon as you read it. It belongs to afriend from the Spanish embassy.”

    The book was Tres Tristes Tigres byGuillermo Cabrera Infante, who, like manyother persona-non-grata authors unwel-comed by the cultural authorities of the

    island, was forbidden. You could only acquireit through someone who brought it from theoutside, said El Negro, although it was us whowere on the outside of everything.

    Chino Infante’s emblematic novel becamea true symbol to young people like me whotried uselessly to reconstruct and build over

    the ruins of Havana, the hallucinatory envi-ronment that the writer from Gibara describedso masterfully in those pages. Since that time,the tribulations of Bustrofedón, Arsenio Cué,the Star, and the rest of Infante’s charactersremained forever encrusted in my mind.

    That is, until November 1981, when DizzyGillespie hired me for a European tour thatincluded a couple of nights at the famousRonnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London. I knewof cinematographer Jorge Ulla’s relation-ship with the almost mythological G. Cain,Cabrera Infante’s pseudonym when he

    wrote for Carteles magazine. It was Ulla whogave me his telephone number in the city ofSherlock Holmes, where he lived.

    “Hello ... Miriam, it’s me, Paquito, invitingyou to Dizzy’s show at Soho’s Ronnie Scott’s.”

    I left the names of Mr. and Mrs. CabreraInfante on the guest list that evening. At theend of the show, the couple came backstageto meet Dizzy Gillespie, a legendary characterfor Cabrera Infante, who was always a mod-ern jazz lover.

    “We almost didn’t get in!” said his charm-ing wife, Miriam.

    “It was sold out,” Guillermo added. “And

    they listed our names as Mr. and Mrs.Elefante!”

    This made Dizzy laugh. He never learnedthe writer’s name and always called himSeñor Elefante. Two days later, an extensiveand beautiful article from Cabrera Infanteabout our presentation in the club was pub-

    lished in an important London newspaper.My admired fellow countryman would later

    write several notes for the back covers of myrecords and the prologue for the Spanish edi-tion of my first book, My Sax Life . In the form ofrevenge, as he used to say, I then wrote a piecefor three basses called “ Tres Tristes Tigres .” Oneof the basses was Cachao, and it was recordedon my album 40 Years Of Cuban Jam Session, afun Miami project in which our common friendAndy García played the bongos.

    The last time I saw Cabrera alive was atthe end of a concert with Yo-Yo Ma in

    London. His health was already in decline,and his demeanor was fragile and painful.He hugged me, and while he did, the imageof that November 1981 evening at RonnieScott’s came to mind. It had marked thebeginning of a beautiful and lasting friend-ship, one that flourished from my deep admi-ration and originated at the bar of the magi-cal city the author of Vista del Amanecer en elTrópico (A View of Dawn in the Tropics) so pas-sionately loved and to which he sang praisesthrough time and space like no one else did,“with a tiger’s voice and an elephant’s memo-ry,” until the very day of his death. DB

    D'Rivera at the ColognePhilharmonic Hall on Feb. 11, 2015. H

    Y O U V I E L Z

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    calm down, do your work.” I said yes, because Chucho and Oscar Valdéshad taken me out o involuntary retirement and put me to work againin Irakere. For two years I did nothing, and they paid my salary. I knewsooner or later I’d get in trouble, so it was about time to leave.

    You ran up a down escalator in the airport in Madrid. Did you plan the method of escape?

    Well, not the entire thing, because I was never in that airport be ore.But or the rst time I had my alto with me. I always put the saxophonein the big cases where they put all the instruments. I said I took it to dorepairs or something like that.

    But you improvised the “how.”Te how, yes. My mother and ather already lived here or many

    years, so part o the thing was already taken care o . Part o it was goingto the American Embassy with a passport. I had a visa that said I was inAmerica be ore [with Irakere in 1978 and 1979], a visa in Angola duringthe war and a visa or the Soviet Union. Te Consul said, “You are goingto tell me that you are not a spy?” “I am a saxophone player!” “But youwere already in New York.” I was scared to shit, waiting that week. Tenthey called my mother and said, “OK, his visa is approved.”

    What’s the back- story for Paquito And Manzanero ? It hasa straightahead jazz flavor.wo producers in Mexico—Eugenio Elias, a symphonic trumpet

    player, and Maribel orre—called to talk about a project with ArmandoManzanero. I love his compositions and I like his personality. Te rstthing they said was, “We don’t want strings, we don’t want bolero and wedon’t want a percussionist. We want a CD that sounds as i Manzanerowas born in New Orleans—a pure jazz CD.” Tat’s why I used CarlosHenriquez on bass and Antonio Sanchez on drums. I didn’t have time towrite the arrangements, so Alex Brown did them. Manzanero was happy.

    Your recent album Aires Tropicales is the latest on which youpresent Cuban styles from different eras. You perform witha string quintet of Cubans living in Spain. Were you playing

    much Cuban music when you lived in Cuba?Not really. A writer named Lydia Cabrera went to Paris to study, startedthinking about the beauty o Cuban culture and became a olklorist. Shewrote, “I discovered Cuba at the banks o the Seine River.” Te same thinghappened to me here. In Cuba, I wanted to do American music.

    Your CD Jazz Meets The Classics also features your group.I think the rst time I mixed one style with the other was when I

    arranged Mozart’s “Adagio” or Irakere. Te melody suggested a blues.Ever since, I like to imagine a European composer being born in LatinAmerica. How about i Chopin was born in Brazil? In those days theydidn’t have the percussion instruments we inherited rom A rica. Iam sure i Chopin heard these versions o “Fantasia Impromptu” or“E-Minor Prelude,” he would like it because o the New World rhythms.

    It and your album Live Tango were recorded in concert.Is there a difference for you between the studio andperformance contexts?

    It’s two different animals, and I pre er the organized animal—thestudio. But i you record live, it’s important to rehearse well. Tat wayyou make less mistakes.

    Some musicians feel the important thing is not whether you make a mistake, but where you go with it. You’re notof that opinion.

    No. Jazz is about improvisation, and in improvisation you take risks.Tat is why classical musicians are a raid o improvising on a recording.It’s always possible you will have an accident because o the spontaneity.

    But you cannot make something beauti ul o the accident. It’s not horri-ble, but it’s nothing to celebrate.


    With the thawing of U.S.-Cuba diplomatic relations, isthere a possibility that you’ll go to Cuba?

    No. I don’t trust these people. Te same people who destroyed thatcountry with that ideology say, afer 57 years, they are going to x thecountry. Tat doesn’t make sense. Te rst thing when you want to xsomething is to hold elections, call other people to x the country, notthe same ones who destroyed it. It’s better there or American busi-ness people, but not or my amily.

    You write so vividly and nostalgically about your 32 yearsin Cuba, it’s as though you’re still living it.

    My biggest nostalgia is or what they have destroyed—the demo-cratic mentality o our people. Cubans haven’t exercised their votesince 1952. Tey don’t eel the nostalgia or voting or electing theirown people. Tey are happy to receive something, anything.

    Is it important to you to play with Cuban musicians, ason Aires Tropical or an engagement several years a