Jazzin' Magazine

Jazzin' Magazine
Jazzin' Magazine

domingo, 15 de abril de 2012

Jazz in Puerto Rico

Even those with knowledge in jazz history may be surprised to learn about the great contribution of Puerto Rican musicians to this genre.

The first recordings in jazz were made in 1917, and already the Puerto Rican musician/composer Rafael Hernandez is part of the US Army Orchestra lead by Lt. James Reese Europe. This orchestra is credited with introducing jazz to France and the rest of Europe.

Some years later in 1923, Rafael Duchesne recorded with the Noble Sissle Orchestra alongside Sidney Bechet, one of the first jazz virtuosos. Also in 1923, Ralph Escudero recorded with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra, among the members of that orchestra were Coleman Hawkins and Louis Armstrong.

Well known is the musical relation between Puerto Rican trombonist, Juan Tizol with Duke Ellington. Juan Tizol was the composer of jazz standards like Caravan and Perdido. The bassist virtuoso from Puerto Rico, Eddie Gomez, played for more than a decade with pianist Bill Evans.

Less known is the case of Rogelio “Ram” Ramirez, pianist and composer of Lover Man, one of the most recognized and recorded jazz standards. Jazz connoisseurs might remember this song in the voice of Billie Holiday. Ramirez also worked with the great Ella Fitzgerald.

Of course one cannot talk about jazz, specifically Latin jazz without mentioning masters like Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, and the brothers Charlie and Eddie Palmieri. Musicians that also helped in the creation and development of Salsa music.

The importance of Puerto Rican musicians in the last decades of the twentieth century and first years of the twentieth-first century is widely recognized. In every musical instrument often related with jazz a musician from Puerto Rico stands out. Saxophonists David Sanchez and Miguel Zenón, pianist Hilton Ruiz, percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo, trombonist William Cepeda, bassist John Benitez and trumpet player/percussionist Jerry Gonzalez are just a few examples of master instrumentalists from Puerto Rico.

The vast quantity of amazing musicians coming out of Puerto Rico in recent years is due in part to the great work of music schools like La Escuela Libre de Música and The Music Conservatory of Puerto Rico. In April 2011 was the sixth edition of the Conservatory Jazz Festival that included guests like David Sanchez, Ignacio Berroa and Alexis Cole. This school faculty is a who’s who of the best musicians in Puerto Rico today, bassist Aldemar Valentin, pianist Brenda Hopkins and jazz legend Eddie Gomez.

The organizers of the internationally recognized Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Festival, make their contribution to music, with grants for the Puerto Rican youth to continue studies in one of the most prestigious music school, Berklee College of Music.

It is important to highlight the work of broadcasting heroes whom have taken over the responsibility to keep quality music alive among young people. Naphis Torres, with radio programs dedicated to jazz and music from Brasil in the government radio stations. Wito Morales, “Mister Jazz”, conductor of “En Clave de Jazz”, one the jazz programs with more years in Puerto Rican Radio. The University of Puerto Rico radio station keep various program dedicated to jazz music. And of course Vid 90.3, the only Jazz radio station in Puerto Rico. This radio station located in the west town of Mayaguez, town officially named as the jazz capital of Puerto Rico, also organized the Mayaguez Jazz Festival, second major jazz festival in Puerto Rico and recently created the first jazz web magazine in Puerto Rico, www.vid90magazine.com. Also published in :


lunes, 9 de abril de 2012

Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Fest 2012

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The 22nd edition of the Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Fest started exactly at 8pm Thursday, March 29. (Usually this fest takes place the last week of May).

The opening act for this edition was the Puerto Rican saxophonist Jose Heredia and his group IQ (International Quintet). Heredia International Quintet opened with a funky version of the Miles Davis classic “So What”. The group, that includes the excellent pianist Angel David Mattos, also played some original compositions, the ballad “Jabez Prayer”, and the plena/jazz fusion “Graceful” with special guests, Humberto Ramirez on trumpet and the pleneros Charlie Pizarro and Rafael Falu.

The night continued with contagious rhythms and always impressive virtuosity of two of the best musician in the jazz scene for the past few decades, percussionist extraordinaire Giovanni Hidalgo and master pianist Michel Camilo. Accompanied by bassist Lincoln Goines, and under a heavy rain, these two already jazz legends played the compositions “Yes”, “The Sidewinder”, “You and Me”, “Rumba Pa’ Ti” from their album Mano a Mano.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The second night started with the jazz of another young talent from Puerto Rico, bassist Agustin Barreto Fusion Quartet. The name of the group says it all, there is no doubt the major influence for this amazing musician is the Jazz/Rock fusion of the 1970′s. His compositions and sound in “Boooo”, “Apt. 415″, and “Furia” are very similar to fusion bassists like Stanley Clarke and Jaco Pastorius. Even the name of one of Barreto compositions “Jaco-me” pays tribute to the great Pastorius.

After the powerful music of Agustin Barreto the mood mellowed down with the music of pianist Ariadna Castellanos. Coming all the way from Spain, Castellanos music has a distinct flamenco flavor, but also has mediterranean and middle east influences. The group, all students from Berklee College of Music, includes musicians from Palestine, Israel, Spain and from Puerto Rico, flutist Kalani Trinidad.

One year in the waiting, (this was one of the acts suspended last year due to the rain), finally Dee Dee Bridgewater took the stage and captivated the audience with her charm, sense of humor and amazing voice in a tribute to one of the true jazz legends Ms. Lady Day, Billie Holiday. The presentation included excellent arrangements by Puerto Rican musical director and pianist Edsel Gómez of classics “Lady sings the blues”, “Lover Man”, “Them there eyes”, “Fine and Mellow” and gospel version of “God bless the child”.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday night came and still no suspension due to rain, and the first act was another group of amazing Puerto Rican musicians, Negroni’s Trio with special guest, saxophonist Ed Calle.

This edition of the Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Fest was dedicated to one of the best and more sought out bassist in jazz, Abraham Laboriel. His pleasant personality, sensibility and high energy made the audience sing, laugh and even cry throughout his presentation that included “Everything new is old again”, “Partita”, and the gospel influenced “Safely in your presence”. Laboriel even composed a song dedicated to Puerto Rico (El corazon de Puerto Rico) two hours before his presentation.

The closing act for this night was Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band, another act that was suspended due to rain in the 2011 edition of the fest. Sanchez version of “Soul Bourgeoise”, “Con sabor latino”, “Groovin High” and a Chano Pozo medley, brought the latin jazz flavor to the fest in a tribute to music of Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo, a musical marriage credited with the creation of AfroCuban Jazz.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

With the bigger audience of the four nights, and finally no rain, sunday evening started with the presentation of some of the best students currently on Berklee College of Music, under the musical direction of Professor Eguie Castrillo. All of them excellent musician, two deserve a special mention, both from Puerto Rico, percussionist and singer Zayra Ocasio and flutist Kalani Trinidad.

Mario Parmisano Trio took the audience to Argentina with the elegance of his tango jazz in a tribute to the music of Astor Piazzola, the father of modern tango. The audience enjoyed some of Piazzola most recognized compositions like “Libertango”, and “Oblivion”.

And at last what everyone was waiting for, the presentation of guitar and flamenco virtuoso Paco de Lucia. Even though Paco demonstrated at time throughout the night he can still play the fast and impressive melodic runs some people remember from his recordings with Al de Meola and John McLaughlin. Tonight presentation was an homage to the fabulous music of flamenco, a music Paco took all around the world with his guitar.

Besides Paco excellent rasgado technique, some of the hightlights of the night were the “cantaores” (flamenco singers) Duquende and David de Jacoba and the “bailaor” (flamenco dancer) Farruco.