Michael Brecker: Testament, The Story Behind His Last Album
JAZZIZ Magazine, June, 2007
Most jazz recordings are little more than souvenirs, true-color snapshots of moments in the music’s history and in artists’ careers. Michael Brecker’s Pilgrimage (Heads Up) is a different matter.
Recorded over four days in August 2006, and mixed shortly after Brecker succumbed to leukemia on January 13, at the age of 57, Pilgrimage is the saxophonist’s first recording entirely comprised of his original compositions.
Blame It On Antonio Carlos Jobim
The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, Sunday, November 22, 1987
Twenty-five years ago yesterday, Antonio Carlos Jobim had his debut in the United States in a now-legendary concert at Carnegie Hall. It was a disaster.
The Heart of the Blues
The Sunday Miami Herald, September 1995
This is the heart of the Delta, a brooding, magnificent plain in northwest Mississippi that runs south to Vicksburg, east to Mississippi’s central mountain range and spills over into Arkansas to the west and Tennessee to the north.
The blues were born around here at the turn of the century, and its ghosts still haunt the place. The markers are everywhere: gravestones standing in empty fields, a roofless, wooden shack at the side of the road, a weather-beaten barn, its paint peeling.
Chucho Valdés, a Cuban Story
JazzTimes, February 2011
It’s tempting to hear Chucho’s Steps, the most recent album by Cuban pianist, composer, and bandleader Jesus “Chucho” Valdés, like a memoir of sorts. After all, Valdés turned 69 on October and the image on the cover, not to read too much into it, shows him approaching a crossroads.
Mizik Rasin: Rhythm and Roots of Haiti
The Miami Herald, April, 1994.
For all the tough-guy posturing of the gangsta rappers, the language of rebellion in hip-hop, the coolly sour attitude of alternative rock, North American pop music is, more often than not, just another product vying for shelf space, not much more subversive than soap.
The pop music of Haiti is a battlefield.
Nils Petter Molvær and the art of musical contradiction
JAZZIZ Magazine, December 2006
The music of Nils Petter Molvær is the sound of paradox. It’s the sound of “Solid Ether,” a track from the Norwegian trumpeter, composer, and producer’s recently released CD, An American Compilation (Thirsty Ear). In fact, “Solid Ether” could serve as a manifesto on Molvær’s musical philosophy: delicate melodies floating over brutal, industrial rhythms; breathy, asymmetrical trumpet phrases flowing over clockwork-exact percussion loops; hints of folk music mixed with whirring, burping noises of technology. For all of this meticulous intellectual scaffolding, the result suggests electro-tribal dance music.
Out of Colombia Hillbilly Goes Pop
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 and the hugely successful TV series Escalona have turned vallenato — accordion music once considered too low class, too crude musically, too regional in its themes to find a large audience — into the hippest pop music of Colombia.In the process, Vives might be helping reinvent the sound, and rules, of Latin pop. And it’s coming this way.
In The Key of Evans. Gil Evans at 75.
The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, May, 1987
Gil Evans’ career, like his music, defies convention. Most great creators in jazz made an impact early in their lives, then settled for a steady, gentle decline — or died young. Evans, a self-taught pianist and arranger, was 45 years old when he first recorded an album under his own name. He had is debut as a solo piano player when he was 67. Now, in his 70s, he leads one of the most daring, powerful bands in jazz.
Dino Saluzzi’s Long Way Home
JAZZIZ Magazine, May, 2007
The city of Salta — the capital of Salta province in northwest Argentina — is about a thousand miles and a world apart from Buenos Aires, Argentina’s urbane, Europhile capital. Campo Santo is a small town about 37 miles north of Salta. In the 1930s, the town had no electricity. There was no radio, no records to play.
And yet, Timoteo “Dino” Saluzzi, born in Campo Santo on May 20, 1935, came to play the bandoneón — a button squeezebox invented in Germany during the mid-19th century.