Criticism / On Music

Carmen París. Photo by José Aguilar © Courtesy Centro Cultural Español, Miami While introducing a song, halfway through her concert at Miami Dade County Auditorium, Friday, Spanish singer and songwriter Carmen París grumbled about globalization and what she saw as the resulting loss of traditional cultures....

Dafnis Prieto, drums, leading his sextet at the Global Cuba Fest 2018, Miami Photo by Elvis Suarez, Glassworks Multimedia/ Miami Light Project @ The Light Box Drummer Dafnis Prieto and pianist Omar Sosa closed this year’s Global Cuba Fest at the Light Box in Wynwood, Miami, with shows on Friday and Saturday, respectively, that suggested a sort of musical yin and yang. For an annual festival that celebrates the music of Cuba and its diaspora, the weekend was a perfectly tuned statement — artistically ambitious, global in its vision and brilliantly executed.

  Globalization has produced many stories — not all inspiring. But having a Pakistani ensemble become a worldwide sensation by playing Paul Desmond’s immortal “Take Five,” which pianist Dave Brubeck turned into a hit nearly 50 years ago, has to be one of the most delightful — and improbable. The 10-piece Sachal Ensemble, a group from Lahore, Pakistan, became an unlikely global sensation when the video of their performance of “Take Five,” a peculiar, swinging blend of South Asian classical music and jazz, got a million hits on YouTube. In a letter quoted in a story in Esquire Middle East,Brubeck, who got to hear it before his passing in 2012, wrote to producer Izzat Majeed:“This is the most interesting and different recording of ‘Take Five’ that I’ve ever heard....Listening to this exotic version brings back wonderful memories of Pakistan where my Quartet played in 1958. East is East, and West is West, but through music the twain meet. Congratulations!” The album that followed it, Sachal Jazz: Interpretations of Jazz Standards & Bossa Nova, became a best seller that topped the iTunes jazz charts. That led to world tours, appearances at jazz festivals and a celebrated performance with Wynton Marsalis at Lincoln Center in 2013, captured in Song of Lahore, a from-Lahore-to-New York documentary film by two-time Academy Award-winning director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Andy Schocken. The Sachal Ensemble is appearing at the Olympia Theater in downtown Miami, Saturday. The concert opens MDC Live’s 2017-2018 season under the banner “Ojala/ Inshallah: Wishes from the Muslim World. ”

From left to right, Israel Suárez "Piraña," percussion; Alain Pérez, bass; Antonio Sánchez, guitar; Antonio Serrano, harmonica; David De Jacoba, cante, and Farru, dancer. Photo by Luis Malibran There are few artists who have had the impact in their disciplines that guitarist Paco De Lucía had in flamenco. There is a before-and-after De Lucía in flamenco. He expanded the harmonic vocabulary and guitar techniques, incorporated instruments from outside the tradition, and had a curiosity that led him to collaborations with artists as disparate as jazz guitarist John McLaughlin and Brazilian pop star Djavan and also opened new vistas to flamenco artists. He also worked with unorthodox (for flamenco) ensembles, most notably his revolutionary sextet, which included sax, electric bass and cajón, in the 1980s and ‘90s and then later, for 10 years, until his passing in February 2014, his septet. This remarkable group has been re-assembled by producer Javier Limón, a long-time friend and collaborator of De Lucía, and will be performing a tribute at the Olympia Theater in downtown Miami, Florida this Sunday.

Carlos Vives with acordeonero Egidio Cuadrado, performing in Valledupar, Colombia The Miami Herald, June 1994   A soap opera heartthrob playing the lead role in a television series about the life of a lyricist of hillbilly music seems an unlikely recipe for a pop revolution. But actor and singer Carlos Vives...

Esteban (Reynaldo Guanche) conversing with his great love, the piano. Artburst Miami, June, 2017 Esteban, the debut of Cuban director Jonal Cosculluela being premiered at The Miami Light Project tells the story of a 9 year old, living in Havana with his mother, who’s raising him as...