Criticism. Music

Back To School for Maria Schneider — This Time, to Lead

The concert debut of composer, arranger, and conductor Maria Schneider as Artistic Director of the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music Henry Mancini Institute on January 25 was as much a musical event as a statement of purpose.

The first-half program comprised three of Schneider’s signature orchestral jazz pieces, featured her long time collaborator saxophonist Donny McCaslin and was conducted by the composer. The second half, directed by resident conductor Scott Flavin, featured mostly large ensemble arrangements of McCaslin’s pop-rock-jazz fusion.

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Betsayda Machado and La Parranda El Clavo: Storytelling and Food for the Soul

Presenting music from a foreign tradition poses particular challenges. Yes, music transcends much, but much is lost in the translation. How to make an audience experience the culture, live the stories and meet the people who created it? How to transport an audience — fresh from a parking lot, now properly seated in a theater — to the natural setting of the music?

“Viva La Parranda!,” the new show from Miami New Drama now playing at the Colony Theatre in Miami Beach, is billed as a musical, but it plays like a richly layered, live documentary on a slice of Afro-Venezuelan music and culture.  More …

Dancing with the Spirits

It’s hard to tell what the spirits are doing any given night, but it´s a good bet that a few of them were dancing with RAM at the North Beach Bandshell in Miami Beach, Saturday. As earthly pleasures go, this would’ve been one hard to pass up.

Led by singer and dancer Lunise Morse and founder, singer, and emcee Richard Morse, the 11-piece Haitian roots music band RAM offered an intense and joyful performance that had the mostly Haitian audience up, dancing and singing all evening.  More …


Nu Deco Ensemble + Dranoff 2: No Labels, Good Music, Old and New

NuDecoAt the Dranoff 2 and Nu Deco Ensemble concert at New World Center in Miami Beach on Sunday, solemnity lasted a few bars — just enough for the orchestra to unpack the famous theme of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor,” and turn the piece into “Tocatta y Fuga en Re Minor,” as the program titled it. The arrangement by composer Sam Hyken, co-founder and co-artistic director of Nu Deco, quickly put Bach in the Caribbean, swaying in clave and leaving room for congas and a timbales solo — and off we were.