Friday, November 27, 2009

Antorcha Guadalupana in Durham SATURDAY

The Antorcha Guadalupana, an annual torch run for human dignity from Mexico City's Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe to New York City, is passing through Durham this SATURDAY (11/28) around 6:30 - 7:00 pm.

Apparently Mayor Bill Bell will be among those speaking at the event at the Immaculate Conception Church on Chapel Hill St.


Festivities for the Virgin of Guadalupe begin in earnest the evening before 12/12, her feast day. Guadalupe is Mexico's "mother" and the patron saint of the Americas, and the celebrations include indigenous masked dancers, mariachis, food, flowers, processions and religious services (Catholic mass).

Here's some of my footage from past celebrations of the Virgin around Durham.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Jelly Is In The Jam

After the NCCU Jazz Ensemble Big Band concert Friday night, I minded a research tip that Yale art historian and music critic Robert Farris Thompson hangs his hat on: "Jazz Rule #1 = Hang Out."

Turns out there's a jam session after every big band concert. In that rehearsal room, you couldn't turn around without jostling up against a saxophone. The talent was ridiculous.

Latin bands will often dip into the jazz cistern for horn players, that's a well-known fact. Jazz has given our music a lot, and I think it's fair to say it's been a two-way street, starting with Jelly Roll Morton and his famous quote about the "Spanish tinge."


In the audience were Alberto Carrasquillo (a Central Jazz Studies alum) and Kyle Santos, the trumpets of GarDel at the recent Copa Night event. Serena Wiley and Blu Thompson, both current students, play regularly with one Latin band or another, be it Carnavalito, Sajaso or GarDel. Faculty member Al Strong has also "been there, done that" playing various Latin gigs, as have students Reggie Greenlee and Ricardo James. Who else am I missing? Probably somebody.

There's a moment in the jam session--I don't know if there's a name for it--when something intangible happens and all the ordinary greatness of a non-stop blowing session turns into a magical conversation. I was in the right place at the right time, and had my camera out.

Al Strong (trumpet) leads with some nasty goodness, then the spirit lands on Serena Wiley (tenor sax), who descends from the risers to have her say. Blu Thompson (alto sax) picks up the thread with a children's rhyme, followed by Kadir Muhammed (trumpet). In the band are Baron Tymas (guitar), Jay Wright (piano), Freeman Ledbetter (doublebass) and Larry Draughn (drums). Sitting to my immediate left and right are Andy Paolantonio and James "Saxsmo" Gates.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Gregg Gelb Goes Latin

Gregg Gelb goes Latin
Heart of Carolina Jazz Band with "Grandes Estrellas de Latinoamérica" @ Temple Theatre

Some footage of Gregg Gelb's jazz band performing with Pako Santiago, Nelson Delgado, Ramon Ortiz, Andy Kleindienst and Guillo Carias in Sanford on Nov. 6.

Full review coming soon.


Temple Theatre


"Para Los Rumberos": Tito Puente medley featuring percussion breaks by Pako Santiago (bongo), Nelson Delgado (congas) and Ramon Ortiz (timbales).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Line Item News

Changes in the Party Calendar:

El Kilombo, organizers of the Cimarron Latin Night @ Club 9, report that due to cost constraints, the benefit/dance party will be SUSPENDED for the time being. They plan to notify us if they are able to relocate this event in the future.

Mosaic Wine Lounge has reoriented their once-monthly Latin Night to feature Guillo Carias leading a Latin jazz combo in suave salsa and merengue.

Noche Latina @ Mosaic

Could the advent of no-cover, live music Latin venues finally give a run for their money to high-cover, dj'ed dance parties? Here's hoping. Thanks anyway to Mosaic for creating warm, cosmopolitan spaces in the Glenwood South party zone.

Artist Residencies:

This week features two distinguished artist residencies in Durham: Saxophonist Steve Wilson arrives at NC Central today to rehearse with the NCCU Jazz Big Band. They perform Friday, 8 pm in Central's B.N. Duke Auditorium; admission is $15.

Folkloric percussion expert Michael Spiro is also in town conducting private workshops and rehearsing with Duke's Afro-Cuban Percussion Ensemble. This will be a tough choice, as Spiro's performance with them is also Friday at 8 pm, in Duke University's Baldwin Auditorium. The Duke Djembe and Afro-Cuban Ensembles concert is free and open to the public.

Online video lesson in clave by Michael Spiro

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Surinamese Kaseko in the Kakalak

Suriname, the smallest state in South America, nonetheless boasts a rich musical culture based on its unusual geography, history and ethnic diversity.

Ever heard of "kaseko" music, Suriname's fusion of calypso and son? You can get a live earful this Thursday (11/19), when a LOCAL KASEKO BAND will play following a film about one of Suriname's biggest musical stars, Lieve Hugo, at the NC Latin American Film Festival.

Vincent Soekra's 90-min. film "Iko: King of Kaseko," will be shown at 7 pm in the City of Durham's Holton Career and Resource Center, 401 N. Driver St. Live music will follow.

Frake Hunsel, a Surinamese native and percussionist with Raleigh's ELM Collective, will lead an all-star kaseko band "Carolina style," featuring Curtis Mayfield-style electric guitar, saxophones, 'bones, flutes, drums, bass, piano and vocalists.

This once-in-a-lifetime event is FREE and OPEN to the public!

Get Kaseko Experienced!

Frake Hunsel, drums (far left)

Related Event:

WHAT: Lecture/Demonstration on Surinamese Music, Culture & Religion
SPEAKERS: Herman Snijders, Director, Suriname National Music School
Cyriel Eersteling, Suriname Maroon Cultural Ambassador
WHEN: TUESDAY (11/17) at 7 pm
WHERE: Studio Theater, Thompson Hall, NCSU Dept. of Music, Raleigh, NC

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mambo Lives at Copa Night

gardel @ parizade
Orquesta GarDel's three vocalists: Jaime Ramon, Ramon Ortiz (front) and Nelson Delgado

Despite some drawbacks to the venue, the Copa Night 5th Anniversary at Parizade turned out to be one hell of a party. Orquesta GarDel performed two slamming salsa sets following dance performances by Junior & Emily, Yamulee, CoboBrothers, Mambo Dinamico and others.

I'm not an "on 2" dancer and I don't particularly relish stage shows, but the performers flaunted a lot of admirable nerve and skill. I find the women particularly fearless--just like they used to say about Ginger Rogers, who did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels. These mambo ladies were lifted and tossed into aerial moves, slid across the floor, and vaulted over their partners' bodies to land in splits, all with smiles on their faces and outfitted in sequined pumps and intricate, spandex fantasies as revealing as bikinis.

The dance show ran late, and due to the recent change in venue (George's Garage closed earlier this year, forcing Copa Night to relocate to Parizade), not everyone could see the dance stage; host Milton Cobo apologized to guests for the inconveniences, and promised to make it up to them.

Raleigh company Mambo Dinamico dedicated their dance to the local community that supports them year round, while The CoboBrothers scored heavy applause for their athletic airborne moves and high drama styling. Yamulee from The Bronx always scores points in my book for strong, classic taste, and I liked the unusual music selection by Atlanta's Proyecto Barrio of "My Favorite Things" in a Latin jazz version with vibes.

But the top honors of the evening have to go to West Coast dancers Junior and Emily, a pro team from San Francisco with 10 world titles under their belts. Technically superb, relaxed, and totally adorable, they are absolutely popping with individuality and all the qualities that make dancing look fun. Junior's open-chested, bell-bottomed costumes evoked WWF and sailors' uniforms; Emily's neon pink and yellow fringed skirts and glitter eyelashes evoked swing-era kewpie dolls and futuristic anime heroines. Their hairstyles were also too cute for words, completing the character. And that's just the frosting. When this duo hits the stage, it's as kinetic and explosive as water hitting a greasefire. Flawless fun with turning technique was a focus, less so aerial acrobatics. Turns out they are down-to-earth people in real life, too, as I discovered when I congratulated them backstage.

With all the mambo faithful gathered, there was a lot of energy in the room when the time came for social dancing. Into this charged atmosphere, GarDel delivered.

Sometimes you are at the party; other times you are of the party. I didn't do a whole lot of photographing last night; you can guess why.

GarDel tearing it up last night with an Eddie Palmieri tune.

Chart Gawking! GarDel original "Welcome to Shakori Hills"

Looking over first trumpet Alberto Carrasquillo's shoulder, I got this peek at his warm-up chart: an original in timba style by the band's trombonist and co-leader, Andy Kleindienst. Click on either photo to see larger!

welcome to shakori hills chart

gardel @ parizade

Friday, November 13, 2009

DVR ALERT: Latin Music USA

Don't forget, Latin Music USA is re-airing this month on PBS station WUNC-TV in our cable viewing area.

Tonight (Friday 11/13), episode 2, "The Salsa Revolution," airs at 10 pm. The 3rd and 4th episodes air over the next two Fridays.

Harpsichord Heaven

Photos from Thursday's harpsichord unveiling and concert:

golden garden
don't touch! that's real 24 carat gold leaf.

Beverly Biggs
Beverly Biggs with her harpsichord.

post-show peek
Opus 333 by harpsichord maker Richard Kingston.

Rebecca Pechefsky, Richard Kingston, Lisa Creed & Elaine Funaro

333 hinge design

signature of painter Lisa Creed
Painted by Lisa Creed.

333 keyboard

Below: Kingston, Creed and Funaro.
Richard Kingston, Lisa Creed & Elaine Funaro


And finally! Chart Gawking...

"Freely": 4th movement of Sonata for Three Harpsichords (1998) by Chapel Hill composer Edwin McLean.

"My work has a lot of Latin influence because I lived in Miami for 25 years," says McLean.

His "Sonata for Two Harpsichords," which starts with a tango movement, was also performed at Thursday's concert. The entire program, which includes Bach works for harpsichord and baroque string quintet, is being repeated Friday in Chapel Hill and Saturday in Raleigh (see calendar).

Richard Kingston, who made Funaro's Opus 333, is a leading harpsichord maker with his workshop in Mooresboro, NC.

Copa Night Festival Weekend UPDATE!

The Cobo Brothers' Copa Night 5th Anniversary will be celebrated this weekend, Nov. 13-15, with live music by Orquesta GarDel and workshops and dance performances by a luminary array of mambo professionals from L.A. to New York.

NEWS UPDATE: Online ticket sales END TODAY at 3 PM - here's your link to see event details, prices and availability.

Also, JUST ADDED: Afro-Cuban dance workshop by Betto Herrera (Mambo Dinamico Dance Company). Workshops are being held Saturday and Sunday at Durham's Triangle Dance Studio, 2603 S. Miami Blvd. See website for details.

Parties begin tonight, Friday (11/13) from 11 pm - 2 am at Cuban Revolution, 318 Blackwell St in downtown Durham's American Tobacco District. $10 general admission at the door; weekend and Saturday night passholders receive discounts.

Orquesta GarDel

Saturday night's extravaganza at Parizade, in Durham's Erwin Square, will feature a dance party Orquesta GarDel from 11:30 pm - 3 am. Prior to that, a dance showcase from 10 - 11:30 features out-of-town guests Junior & Emily (L.A.), Yamulee Dance Company (NYC), A&E Studios and Proyecto Barrio Dance Company (both from GA). North Carolina's own Mambo Dinamico, Bernardo De La Vega, and Cobo Brothers Dance Company will also perform. Separate or combined admissions are available for both parts of the evening, the dance showcase and/or live band. CUT OFF FOR ONLINE DISCOUNTS is TODAY, FRIDAY (11/13) at 3 PM.

Few promoters combine entrepreneurial knowhow and aesthetic savvy like the Cobos. The weekend's performing artists are a talent powerhouse, judging by their appearances at past NC Salsa Festivals. Expect a seamlessly well run event with plenty of dazzle.

The word from Orquesta Gardel is, their favorite soundman is standing by to work the boards on Saturday, and they'll be adding a few new charts to Ray Barretto and Issac Delgado. Salseros, all systems go!

LINK: Copa Night 5th Anniversary Weekend

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Harpsichord for Hipsters

Coolest thing ever! Durham's Elaine Funaro Love champions new music for the harpsichord via her foundation, Aliénor. I've had the privilege of meeting Elaine and hearing her explain the instrument's unique qualities and history.

Voila: She's being interviewed on today's The State of Things with Frank Stasio.

The Millennium Opus 300 Harpsichord, commissioned for the Mize Collection. Harpsichord maker: Richard Kingston. Lid painting: June Zinn Hobby.

Not only is Aliénor commissioning new works for the baroque keyboard, but Funaro and friends are also creating custom harpsichords, handpainted (as the old ones were) by modern artists.

Funaro is going to perform on a spectacular new harpsichord built for her by Richard Kingston over the next three days, in all three Triangle cities:

Durham: School of Science & Math
Thursday, November 12, 2009 - 7:30pm

Chapel Hill: University United Methodist Church
Friday, November 13, 2009 - 8:00pm

Raleigh: Meredith College
Saturday, November 14, 2009 - 8:00pm

Donations accepted at the door. Why miss this? I can't think of a reason.

UPDATE: See my PHOTOS of the Durham event here.


See photos of Funaro's new harpsichord, Opus #333, at the website of Lisa Creed, the artist who painted it.

Hear samples from Funaro's recordings here.

A big old inventory of harpsichord sound clips at the Aliénor site, here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dancing Session

UNC's annual Salsa and Swing Dance, a joint concert of Charanga Carolina and the UNC Jazz Band, is TONIGHT, Tuesday (11/10) 8:30-10:30 pm in the new Kenan Music Building on the UNC campus (next to Ackland Museum on S. Columbia).

renacimiento de charanga

Detailed set times:
8:30 - Salsa Lesson by UNC's Salsa Sentido
8:45 - 9:15 - Charanga Carolina

9:15 - Swing Dance Lesson
9:30 - 10:30 - UNC Jazz Band

Dancing is invited and encouraged; the Rehearsal Hall in Kenan is a large recording studio, in essence, with a dreamy wood floor.

The $5 admission directly benefits the Charanga and the UNC Jazz Studies program.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Afro Cuban Big Band in Sanford FRIDAY (11/6)

My land: Latin big band in Sanford?! Gregg Gelb and the Heart of Carolina Jazz Orchestra will perform tonight at the Temple Theatre in Sanford at 8 pm. Local luminaries Guillo Carias, Ramon Ortiz, Pako Santiago, Andy Kleindienst and Nelson Delgado will join them for an evening of swing era Latin big band tunes by Tito Puente, Stan Kenton, and more.

Tickets $15; call Temple Theatre box office: (919) 774-4155 until 6 p.m.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Latin American Film Festival opens TODAY

NOTE: Bad links have been repaired. Apologies.

The 23rd annual NC Latin American Film Festival opens Sunday (11/1), and runs through 11/22. This year's theme is "The Cuban Revolution at 50: Art & Cinema." Steven Soderbergh's Che films will be among the offerings.

In addition, the festival will screen documentaries as part of a project called Latino Portrait.

Music docs in the series this year include one about the life of Surinamese musician Lieve Hugo, screening 11/19 in Durham, and another about Colombia's largest festival of accordion-based vallenato music, screening 11/13 in Durham. UNC ethnomusicologist David F. Garcia will introduce a film on Cuban hip hop in Chapel Hill with a talk on 11/8.

This festival is unique in that it is spread across cities and campuses throughout the Triangle and Triad, and all offerings are free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, a joint initiative of Duke University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

See full schedule and details at the festival website.

Dia de Los Muertos Celebration Monday (11/2)

El Pueblo, Inc. will set up some traditional Day of the Dead altars this Monday (11/2), from 5-8 pm at International Foods Market, 421 Chapanoke Rd. in Raleigh. The public is invited to participate in an educational program on Dia de Los Muertos history and traditions, and to make contributions to the community altar if desired. There will also be folkloric dancing, activities for families with children, and information on El Pueblo's programs. Refreshments, including the traditional pan de muertos (bread of the dead) and hot beverages will be offered to participants.

This info from Sharon Mujica:
"The Day of the Dead is a tradition that goes back to the time of the Aztecs. Through the years, this celebration has become a fusion of the Aztec and Catholic traditions. Currently, the Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 1st, which is dedicated to the souls of children, and November 2nd which is dedicated to the souls of adults. During these two days, family members visit the graves of those who have died and build offerings which are created using specific elements. It is
believed that the spirits of those that have passed come back to this world to share with their loved ones and to enjoy their favorite dishes which are placed in the offerings.

In honoring the dead, El Pueblo also hopes to focus attention on "preventing premature or unjust deaths."


There are a lot of guides and images online for Day of the Dead altars; I suggest you do your own search. Here's one with directions on how to make your own.

Here's another page on Day of the Dead traditions by the UNC Institute for the Study of the Americas.

More info on the holiday from the Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Duke and UNC.

NO GARDEL @ Jordan Lake Festival

Is Jordan Lake Festival cancelled Sunday? That appears to be the case, although there are no announcements currently posted on their website.

We have learned for a fact that Orquesta GarDel will not perform as originally scheduled at 4 pm today, due to rain. This info came from GarDel co-director Eric Hirsh.

Any further info will be posted as available.