Friday, October 24, 2008

Blogging Bobby on WNCU

Some notes as I listen to Bobby's very nice WNCU interview, conducted by B.H. Hudson:

Bobby Sanabria's mission is to perform, inspire, entertain and also to educate the audience, so expect to participate, to enjoy yourself, learn something and also "take it to a spiritual level" at the concert tonight.

Bobby points out that a lot of Puerto Rican contributions to jazz aren't remembered when it comes to composers, such as Juan Tizol who wrote "Caravan."

"It's hipper to share it," Bobby says. If you love this music and are already hip, don't just show up at the concert, or listen on your iPod at work knowing how hip you are and how "corny" everyone else is. Share it with a friend!

Late addition: I couldn't type fast enough...just remembered something else, Bobby talked about the influence on him of his father's taste in music (something he mentioned to me too, 2 years ago in our Atlanta interview). His father worked every day and had a long commute and would relax in a lazy boy in the evening with a cigar, and listen to music--all kinds of music. Latin music but also James Brown, for instance. And Bobby would be like, Dad, you like this music too? And his father answers to the effect of, "Yes. If it's good, it's good." So this was an attitude Bobby took with him in life.

The Duke Jazz Ensemble will be backing Bobby tonight: "It's really a jazz orchestra," Bobby points out, with full trumpets, saxophones, trombones and rhythm section featuring local percussionists Pako Santiago and Bradley Simmons.

"When you have a good drummer, you have to bring your A game," opines Hudson, and John Brown agrees, says the students are really stepping up to the plate. Expect a concert "not to be missed," says Brown.

Tonight's program will go something like this:

Bradley Simmons & Djembe & Afro-Cuban Ensembles.
Jazz Ensemble will play a few tunes.
Then Bobby will conduct the second half, opening with Mario Bauza tune Frenzy, a rumba abierta featuring Evan Ringold, age 14, on lead trombone.

"He is a jazz musician," says Bobby about this young man from Hillsborough - the ultimate compliment.

Bobby notes that jazz is about the ability "for the individual to stand out in a democratic fashion, with everybody else...expressing themself on a virtuostic level and telling you stories." Jazz can "draw on any other art form...and still retain its ethos."

Oh yeah - the Gottschalk reference! Bobby mentions 19th-century New Orleans composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk who grew up near Congo Square, travelled Latin America and absorbed these influences. A master of improvisation on piano, he also incorporated hand drums into his compositions. Bobby gives more on the history of Latin influences in New Orleans. You hear clave in the second line marches.

"We have many more things in common," says Bobby about jazz and the Latin tinge.

In 1939, Machito with his Afro-Cubans was the first to get jazzers into the Latin sound in New York - before Dizzy and Manteca, as Gillespie himself always pointed out.

"I played with Dizzy many times, and Dizzy was a great Lindy dancer and great mambo and cha cha dancer," says Bobby.

People think Latin music is just "the fire and the brimstone," but "we also have the fire and passion on the romantic side," Bobby says. So we hear "Since I Fell for You," a bolero treatment from Bobby's latest album Big Band Urban Folktales.

This chart will be heard tonight, among many Machito tunes from the album Kenya and others, and a Tito Puente mambo. Also one unrecorded tune called "Hour of Darkness" with a message suited to the politics of our time.

Concert tonight (Friday 10/24): Baldwin Auditorium, East Campus of Duke, 8 pm. All students and seniors free, general admission $5.

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