Friday, May 29, 2009

Timba at Saxapahaw!

Orquesta GarDel is getting ready to unveil more original tunes this Saturday (5/30) from 6-8 pm at the free Rivermill Outdoor Music Series in Saxapahaw.

This timba tune by trombone leader Andy Kleindienst debuted in April:

Now, keyboardist Eric Hirsh is about to bring his own baby on board. He says he was inspired to write complex, yet catchy horn lines last year after listening to a lot of Bamboleo and Charanga Habanera.
"I wanted to make sure that the rhythm feels distinctly Cuban. It's gotta have that aggressive FUNK," writes Eric.
This spring, GarDel's members collaborated during songwriting rehearsals to tie up loose ends.
"Nelson [Delgado] is really coming into his own as a lyricist," adds Eric. "His thematic concept for the song is very spiritual and philosophical, but in a way that still exhorts everyone to dance and have a good time."
I think we can oblige.

UPDATE 5/31:

I made it in time for the debut, but my camera battery gave out. So, no video! Coincidentally, Eric said one of his keyboards was not performing properly, so he was forced to turn it off. (Love the multiple keyboard effects he uses for GarDel and The Beast; that's timbalicious right there.) We agreed that we would re-premiere this work (does it have a title, E?) and publicly document it in the nearest possible future.

That said, my impressions: The Cuban funk is definitely there (hallelujah), and the texture is dark and complicated (what Eric called "a harmonic palette somewhere between an R&B song and modal jazz"). I was dancing during this song but I could feel most people stopping to listen and assess. This was quite different from GarDel's usual Puerto Rican weather, i.e. sun-drenched with occasional thunderstorms. This was a rumbling deep underground.

P.S. Almost forgot:
there's been a personnel change. Saxophonist Bluford Thompson, a degree candidate in jazz performance and composition at North Carolina Central, is taking over the chair of Wayne Leechford, who has left GarDel to pursue other opportunities. Wayne is a music veteran in the Triangle who has given lots of love to Latin music fans over the years. We wish him well, and issue a warm welcome to Blu; it should be an interesting bench this year as he joins reedsman Tim Smith.

Monday, May 25, 2009

"como toca...ese muchacho, como toca..."

Addition/Correction: This is the Ray Barretto band (Jimmy Bosch, Jimmy Delgado, Ricky Gonzalez, etc.) with guests including many Fania All Stars, et al. performing at the L.A. Palladium for an ABC television taping. The show aired in the '80s on "Bravisimo," a 13-episode series of bi-lingual variety shows. Thanks to musician Ricky Gonzalez and Eddie Rodriguez, former executive with ORO, the show's producers, for that additional information!

Fania All Stars and assorted guests including the late Jorge Dalto, whose fusion style of Latin piano soloing I find atypical yet seductive. The Argentine pianist played with Gato Barbieri and George Benson before he passed away in 1987, a mere 39 years old. Musicians and aficionados still discuss his loss as if it happened yesterday; from this video I understand why.

In (1980s?) Los Angeles, the jam standard "Quitate Tu" with a shot of "Bacalao Con Pan":

This is a glorious slice of Fania stars in their prime: Adalberto Santiago, Ismael Miranda, Ray Barretto, Orestes Vilato, Bobby Valentin, Sal Cuevas, Yomo Toro gettin' crazy on the floor, even Jimmy Delgado and Jimmy Bosch with a short afro. Guest Junno Farias finds a way to play two saxophones at once; is it any wonder he twitters?

Video tipster: Mike Reyes.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

RADIO ALERT: Harry Viggiano Interview TONIGHT on WXDU

***UPDATE: Interview with Harry Viggiano is postponed until this Wednesday (5/27), 6-8 pm ET during my regular program, Azucar y Candela.***

I will be hosting WXDU's Mystery Show tonight, Sunday (5/24), 10 pm - midnight exploring the theme "Electric Guitar Solos in Salsa."

In the '70s, rock session guitarists such as Elliott Randall (Steely Dan's "Reelin' in the Years") and Jorge Santana were frequently called in to play with the Fania All Stars, Orchestra Harlow and other bands.

However, the use of guitar in Latin music goes back at least as far as La Playa Sextet and Los Zafiros (Manuel Galban) in the '50s and '60s. African salsa has traditionally used electric guitar, from Orchestra Baobab to Ricardo Lemvo, and in Cuba the history reaches from Irakere to Los Van Van's newest album.

The first show (in a series I hope to repeat) will feature a 20-minute interview with elusive legend of electric guitar and tres Harry Viggiano!

Harry contributed essential flavor to some of the classic albums of Eddie Palmieri, Larry Harlow, Roberto Roena and Joe Cuba among others. I learned early on as a fan of typical and experimental salsa that his name on the credits of an album is always a quality brand.

Tune in and catch this WXDU exclusive!

WHAT: Salsa Guitar Solos (Vol. 1)
WHEN: Sunday, 5/24, 10:00 pm - 12 midnight
WHERE: The Mystery Show, WXDU 88.7 FM or


See the playlist from Sunday's "Salsa Guitar Solos" Mystery Show here

Hear a sample of Senen Suarez, an early guitarist to integrate it into Cuban music, here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

BREAKING: Colombian Karma

I just found out LATIN BROTHERS from Cali, Colombia are playing at DISCO RODEO TONIGHT!!! This is not a rumor; I spoke to vocalist/percussionist Jorge Tello on the phone. [Jorge says he is the son of former Latin Brothers singer Joseito Martinez.]

Tonight, in Raleigh, Grupo Niche is also playing (at Ambis on Atlantic Ave). What the...? I have no idea what the Goddess Karma is up to, but it is Colombian night tonight.

To sweeten the pot, some locals (Andy Kleindienst, Mitch Butler, Alberto Carrasquillo) are filling in some spots with the Colombian bands at Disco Rodeo . Cumbia band Sonora Dinamita opens for Latin Brothers.

UPDATE 5/23:

Here's Alberto Carrasquillo and James Armstrong (of Winston-Salem) blowing their horns with La Sonora Dinamita:
interesting fade

West End Mambo
's Cesar Oviedo played bass and arranged the NC musicians for this show.


Lovely, long-legged Tatiana Giraldo, one of the singers in La Sonora Dinamita's next generation:
attack of the 50 ft woman

She was joined by vocalists Any Velez (in blue) and Luis Milanes, whose brother Nestor Milanes handled keyboards for both bands.
Any, Luis and Tatiana

Both bands have older roots, but are franchises currently owned and managed by Jessie Lozano, age 28. The young promoter played timbales in both sets.
"It's a good combination, people like to hear these two bands together," says Any (pronounced "Anni").

I agree, although the sound system at Disco Rodeo was sonidero-style, heavy on the bass. Setting one's phone on vibrate was a redundant proposition. I didn't think this made for the best live music setting, but I did like the crowd. Laid-back, young, unagressive, a cool cumbia scene, really dance-oriented. A lot of gum chewing dancers, and people politely stepping back to make room for other dancers, even in front of the stage.

You can see some cool dancing in this clip, as Jorge Tello sings "Dime Que Paso":

Sonero Charlie Cajares (below, left), billed as "El Abogado de la Salsa," sounded fantastic as he led the Latin Brothers into their set. I would love to hear this guy sing again, in any weather, especially with a more finely balanced sound system.

Latin Brothers

Here's a sample of "Buscandote" with Charlie ripping his soneos from the headlines. Piano solo by Nestor at 3:00, then our own Andy Kleindienst plays a monster trombone solo at 5:30!

With a jerryrigged band, the two vocalists gave these standards a strong pulse. The final tune, one of my favorites, "Las Caleñas son (como las flores)" really had the funky swing of Colombia. I didn't want to go home, but the show seemed to run up against Disco Rodeo closing time; management turned the lights on 20 minutes before they wrapped up their set.

younger generation

One should say that this cumbia scene deserves a cleaner club than Disco Rodeo. A steam cleaner could lose his mind trying to remove the patina from the carpet in there (not that there's any risk of that happening). There is not a surface in the room that does not feel sticky, and the bathrooms are always a disgrace by the end of the night. Considering the price of admission ($25-60 not uncommon) and beer ($5 for a can of Budweiser), something doesn't smell right. I didn't see any inappropriate behavior whatsoever, no fights, no d&d, so you can't "blame" the fans for management neglect.

To the frustrations one can add that Disco Rodeo does nothing to publicize their Latin events to non-Spanish-speaking audiences or media, and they don't even have a website. They know on which side their bread is buttered. People come out anyway and pay their hard-earned money to hear their music and to dance with their friends. I can totally understand that. Venue demerits aside, this is a dance scene I'd like to go to again.

All videos posted with the band's permission.

Latin Brothers & Sonora Dinamita

Click on any photo to see more from the show at my flickr page.

Corrections: Jorge Tello is the son of Joseito Martinez. I incorrectly stated both of their names earlier; the post has been updated to reflect these corrections.

street signs: what's happening in mex regional

Still trying to confirm who's playing tonight at Disco Rodeo in Raleigh; Los Sementales de Nuevo Leon? I think that's what I heard on La Ley 96.9 FM. Two local horn players have been contracted to play that gig.

Meanwhile, in Durham, found these posters on a phone booth along Roxboro Road:

Salamandra in Durham 5/22
Note: Ladies free all night at Salamandra. This place is the old "Big Pig," before that a Chinese restaurant (in the long long ago), on Hillsboro Rd.

Click on below photo to see larger. La Luna is in the middle of a cumbia sonidera dance contest. Could be interesting? I've often admired the DF street style of the teenage coup de baile.
dance contest at la luna

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009

Rumba Caraqueña

Cool oranges: In my inbox this morning, an email from Venezuelan vibraphonist Alfredo Naranjo with this link to two free song downloads on his ReverbNation player.

Really hip. One of the most exciting artists on the Caracas-based Cacao label (which includes Cuban artists such as Changuito and Horacio "El Negro Hernandez). In 2007 they released Alfredo Naranjo y su Guajeo, featuring trombonist Jimmy Bosch in a guest spot.

In Venezuela, they seem to know how to make modern, intelligent Latin jazz that also swings for the dancer. One way they do it: don't stint on a vocalist. Naranjo's new tracks feature bold choices from the popular music fields of Venezuelan parranda and ska: Francisco Pacheco (of the venerable Un Solo Pueblo) lends his natural baritone to "El Cumaco de San Juan," while rocker Horacio Blanco from Desorden Publico sings "Un Lote de Amor."

I recently came across another excellent, timba-jazz-flavored dance band from Caracas: Cabijazz led by guitarist Alvaro Paiva Bimbo.

Caracas tiene su swing!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Rock an' Roll y Guaguancó

Ever wondered what rumba is? Here is your Rosetta stone: a Beatles song performed by Cuba's venerable rumba group, Los Papines.

"Hello Goodbye" rumba (video)

The singer is Yuliet Abreu Fernández, daughter of Jesus, the youngest of the four Abreu brothers from the Havana suburb of Marianao who formed Los Papines in 1962. (Alfredo Abreu passed away in October, 2001.) The band celebrated its 45th anniversary last year with a series of concerts throughout Havana.

Yuliet, a percussion instructor at the Escuela Nacional de Arte (ENA), originally recorded this song in 2000 with her father and uncles for the album Beatles Cubanos: Here Comes El Son. Los Papines continue to perform in Havana every third Sunday at the Casa de la Cultura Plaza.

Thanks to "asere3" Dr. Benjamin Lapidus for the link!

UPDATE 5/19/09:

By coincidence, some bad news breaking: Los Papines booking contact Eli Silvrants says founder Ricardo "Papin" Abreu is gravely ill and hospitalized in Havana. The family is "expecting the worst." Let us hold this great rumba family in our thoughts.


Some lovely photos of Ricardo "Papin" Abreu at Mark Sanders' blog Fidel's Eyeglasses

UPDATE added 11:35 pm:

Sadly, he passed away today. I got the word at 9 pm today from Los Papines' representative and family friend, Eli Silvrants.

Ricardo "Papin" Abreu Hernandez
19 dec 1933 - 19 may 2009

UPDATE added 5/20/09:

This obituary appeared today in Cuban Granma (in Spanish).

Granma states that Ricardo formed his first group, Papin y sus Rumberos, in 1959. The article notes that he played the famed Tropicana and brought rumba to the international stage as well, performing in over 50 countries. It states the cause of death, at age 75, to be cerebral hemorrhage. His body is at the Funeraria de Zapata y 2, on the Plaza de la Revolución, no word yet on when and where he is to be buried. In the photo, Ricardo is seated, surrounded by the current incarnation of Los Papines consisting of his 2 surviving brothers Jesus and Luis, his niece Yuliet and nephew Luisito.


View videos at Los Papines' myspace.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

RADIO ALERT: "Azuquita Pa'l Cafe" Giveaway TODAY

Today on my radio show AZUCAR y CANDELA I'm going to be giving away the new Tiempo Libre CD, Bach in Havana, AND a can of Café Bustelo! Courtesy of Sony Masterworks. Tune in to WXDU 88.7 FM today, Wednesday (5/13) between 6 and 8 pm to find out how to win!

Read More about the Tiempo Libre Bustelo promotion here

Grammy-nominated Tiempo Libre's third major label CD, Bach in Havana fits right in to Cuba's long history of mingling European classical music and Afro-Cuban popular music. The music of J.S. Bach is known for melodic purity and spiritual power. To that, Tiempo Libre has added Cuba's own sacred music (the batá drums and sacred songs of the Yoruba tradition), as well as its rambunctious timba dance rhythms, crafted together with classical reverence and a Latin jazz sensibility. Two of Cuba's finest saxophonists, Paquito D'Rivera and Yosvany Terry, take prominent guest spots.

This album highlights fine keyboard work by pianist and musical director Jorge Gomez, who says he used to lie in bed at night and listen to his father, a classical pianist, play Bach. All the young members of Tiempo Libre studied classical music at strict, Russian-style conservatories in Cuba, where popular music was taboo. However, they inhaled Afro-Cuban musical traditions, such as rumba, son, danzon, timba and Santería, just by growing up there, where music is in the air, in the streets, in private homes and nightclubs. You might say that Bach in Havana takes classical music from the salons out into the solares, the courtyards in poor, black neighborhoods in Cuba where the rumba was born.

It's interesting to contemplate "Air on a G String" [sic] had it been written as a lovesong to a beautiful behind, if J.S. Bach could walk the streets of Miami Beach, sans powdered wig, waistcoat unbuttoned to mid-chest. Tiempo Libre doesn't only loosen up the classics, it breathes new life into them. This album might help a lot of people better understand Cuba's birthright and invention of a creole musical language. As North Americans, it's our birthright too.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Rubencito Raps!

Found this at of the hat to Aurora Flores. It's the new video single from Puerto Rican hip hop duo Calle 13 featuring, for the first time ever, a rapping Ruben Blades!

Love it when the (former) Panamanian Minister of Tourism turns to the camera and deadpans, "If you mess with my barrio, I don't like you."

This is not the first song/video about La Perla, a famous seaside neighborhood in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Check out Ismael Rivera's beautiful salsa tribute from the 1970s. In the press conference footage that follows, that's a young Ruben Blades sitting next to El Sonero Mayor:

Blades interviewed Calle 13 a year ago, before their collaboration, on his video webcast, Show de Ruben Blades (SDRB). Not a puff piece, the 45-minute discussion of salsa vs. hip hop/reggaeton takes some surprisingly frank turns. (Part 1 of 5, in Spanish with English subtitles:)

Rapper Rene Perez (aka Residente of Calle 13) compares musica urbana to Marcel Duchamp (bet you didn't see that coming!) and Blades praises the authenticity of its songwriting.
"I like the freshness of the could call it urban poetry. What I don't like is the monotony. I'm a melody guy," says Blades.

At one point they joke about the generation gap--the then 59-year-old Blades says he's about to turn 70 soon, "godwilling," and Perez returns the hyperbole with, "and I'm 15." This is also a playful exaggeration, since Perez had just turned a barely discernible 30 the day before filming this.

Latinos in Film: Tuesdays and Thursdays in May on TCM

Tonight will be day 2 of Turner Classic Movies' monthlong series on Latino Images in Film, every Tuesday and Thursday evening in May.

There are so many films of interest, highlighting both positive and negative stereotypes of Latinos in Hollywood, that I can only refer you to the schedule. Some personal favorites I'm excited to see again:

The blacklisted union drama Salt of the Earth (5/12) starring real New Mexico mineworkers as themselves;

Ricardo Montalban and Shelley Winters in an immigrant love story that examines class, racism and the American Dream, My Man and I (5/14);

The Mambo Kings (5/21) featuring Tito Puente in a ballroom scene, Machito's son Mario Grillo, and timbalero Ralph Irizarry in a speaking role.

UPDATED: Another "Musicians in Film" Alert:

This Tuesday (5/14) they'll show The Milagro Beanfield War featuring Ruben Blades and Freddy Fender.

Carmen Miranda stars with William Bendix and Don Ameche in Greenwich Village on Thursday, 5/21. That seems to be musical night, as its followed by West Side Story, La Bamba, and Mambo Kings.

J-Lo shows up with Jimmy Smits on 5/28 in My Family.

No musical connection, just one of my favorites: Mexican actress Katy Jurado appears in Trial on 5/19.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Diplomatic Algebra

GOOD NEWS: Cuban artists living outside Cuba AND in the U.S. can perform for us.

Ben Ratliff reviews Cuban singer Pepito Gomez in the New York Times from this past Friday's gig at S.O.B.'s.

lives in New Jersey.

BAD NEWS: Cuban artists living outside Cuba BUT outside the U.S. = still a security threat!

Cuban rap group Orishas had to cancel an April appearance at New Orleans' Jazz Fest because they were denied entry to the U.S.

They live in France.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

punto de VISA

Bad news, it seems, re: Cuban artists seeking to travel to the U.S. to perform: folk singer/songwriter Silvio Rodriguez did not receive a U.S. visa in time to perform at Pete Seeger's 90th birthday celebration this past Sunday, May 3. State Department officials are quoted as saying his visa request is "in process." Visa delays have been tantamount to denials during the second Bush term.

This AP story in the Hartford Currant appeared yesterday.

deplored his own inability to attend the event in an open letter to Seeger published on a Cuban state-owned website:

"I tried to return to be with you today, but, as you well know, it was made impossible by those who do not want the United States and Cuba to come together, sing together, talk together, understand each other...Not only I, but all of Cuba, embargoed as we still are by the abusers, loves you, and we are at your side now singing your prophetic We Shall Overcome and our Martí's Guantanamera.

[Translation Ned Sublette. It was Seeger's inspiration, in the early '60s, to pair Martí's lyrics with a 1928 Joseito Fernandez tune, "Guantanamera."]

Unfortunately for Rodriguez, no one seemed to miss him at the party. Neither his absence nor the reason for it were announced from the stage, nor was it mentioned in press coverage of the event, according to Sublette.

So much for hoping that a new era of U.S.-Cuba diplomacy had already touched the State Department. Naturally, I'm concerned about what this bodes for the rumored Los Van Van tour, but it's best to always wait and see. Esperanza!

Update 5/14:

A couple of commentaries on the Silvio Rodriguez case...this TV journalist Alina Fernandez says, it's no wonder his visa was denied, as he's not just a singer, but a politician with an extensive resumé that makes him quote an "embassador of tyranny" (in Spanish):

And here's an interview Rodriguez did in Cuba, telling about the U.S. consulate interview in Paris. (I tuned out about half-way through where he started telling an anecdote about Poughkeepsie...) but anyway, the gist is, he was disappointed not to receive the visa, because he had thought conditions in the U.S. had changed enough, with Obama in the White House, talk of a new attitude towards Cuba, the momentousness of the occasion (Pete Seeger's 90th), that it was to benefit an environmental cause (cleaning up the Hudson) etc. Consulate officials reportedly did question him about his membership in the Cuban parliament (in Spanish):

He says he is glad he was at least invited, he wants to break the ice between our two peoples. He describes also what they had planned for the concert; he and Pete were going to sing "Guantanamera" (a song Seeger popularized here in the 60s) together, in the second half of the concert, to be joined on stage by Juanes.

Everything has to have a little Juanes nowadays...

that time of the month

It looks like an inadvertent conflict in the dancer's salsa schedule has been corrected, following a shift in Carmen's monthly schedule of events.

The Caribbean Twilight salsa party at Carmen's has had trouble getting a foothold, because it fell on 2nd Saturdays, the same night as the long-established Copa Night at George's Garage. (This scheduling gaffe was unintentional, sources say, NOT an attempt to undercut the Cobo Brothers' popular mambo event.)

Caribbean Twilight, hosted by Ricardo "TNT" Diquez, will now take over 2nd Fridays at Carmen's, supplanting one of DJ Salsa Mike (Delucia)'s parties in that position. Salsa Mike will continue bringing the force of old school salsa, merengue and bachata to his Tropical Night Latin parties on the 5th Fridays of each month.

Sound confusing? (Things sure were easier when I just headed to Montas any eligible Friday or Saturday night without having to consult the calendar).

Angie Xiomara's Triangle Salsa Meetup Calendar is indispensable for tracking a dancefloor fix; you can also consult my Onda Carolina Calendar for a sampler of dance and live music events.

Caribbean Twilight kicks off its "new" timeslot with live music THIS FRIDAY, May 8 by Diquez' own Tropic Orchestra; cover is $15. Flyers advertise a "timbales descarga" - I have asked Ricardo to elaborate on who the guest drummers might be! Stay tuned.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Cinco de Mayo 411

I'm looking for live music this weekend for Cinco de Mayo. Gardel will be on the road at a Cinco de Mayo festival in Charleston.

However, local bands will play at both Dos Taquitos restaurants in Raleigh on TUESDAY (5/5):
Carnavalito 5-11 pm, Dos Taquitos - Creedmoor Road location (outside party in dance tent/patio/bar)
UPDATED 5/5: Carnavalito members say the gig really is from 5-11 pm, with music in short sets all night starting punctually at 5. For your dining and dancing pleasure!

Sajaso 7-9 pm, Dos Taquitos Centro - Downtown location (appetizer and drink specials)

Also, TONIGHT (FRIDAY 5/1) Dos Taquitos Centro will have mariachis from 7-9 pm.

UPDATE added Monday (5/4):

Saludos Compay plays a Cinco de Mayo party this Tuesday (5/5) at 9 pm Bailey's Bar And Grill, Rams Plaza, 1722 Fordham Blvd, Chapel Hill, (919) 918-1005. Performers advertised are Erich Lieth (piano), Victor Murillo (guitar), Arturo Velasquez and Robert Cantrell (congas/percussion).

Morning Jolt: Timba y Café

Tiempo Libre, my favorite expat Cuban band in Miami, has teamed with Café Bustelo to promote their latest album, a classical/timba mix call Bach in Havana, release date May 5.

A million cans will go out with Tiempo Libre's picture on the bottom and links to a free song download. I hope I can find one at the Super Compare...

UPDATE added Monday 5/4...

Good news...I'm going to be doing a radio giveaway of Bustelo cans + Tiempo Libre's new CD, coming soon to Azucar y Candela on my new time of 6-8 pm Wednesday nights on WXDU 88.7 FM! (I mean, without Azucar y Candela, you can't really have your cafecito cubano, can you?) Tiempo Libre has one awake marketing team...I will give a special "heads up" to Onda Carolina readers about the giveaway once we get it set, but expect it this May!