Un Bolero Que Te Salve La Vida/A Bolero to Save Your Life
TUESDAYS, September 1, 8, 15 @ 8 pm
Part poet, part prophet, Juan-Carlos has forged a post-modern identity for AfroCuban music that has been hailed as “ the magic realism of music.” His five albums constitute an epic poem of Antillean mytho-history, with songs that range from paeans to the flora and fauna of his native country, to a defiant call to freedom for a runaway slave, a personal invocation to an AfroCuban deity, or a celebration of the “divine light ” that resides in each of us
“With brilliant technique and profound originality, Juan-Carlos Formell has turned the conventions of AfroCuban music inside-out.” — Global Rhythm Magazine
“Juan-Carlos Formell continues to open new doors for a pan-Latin sound: Cuban song forms working as a fulcrum to create tunes without boundaries. David Byrne and Caetano Veloso have used this approach — yet Formell adds a technical brilliance and sense of grounding.” — VARIETY
.”…in the complex polyrhythms he plucks from his guitar or bass, implicit in Juan-Carlos’s indigo-blue style is an entire orchestra. ” – Enrique Fernandez, Miami Herald
“…. playing guitar like a cross between Joe Pass and Baden Powell, profoundly prophetic, innocently poetic, fiercely folkloric….his music will overtake you as inescapably as time and water. — Jazz Buffalo
Grammy-nominated Cuban guitarist/bassist/composer/vocalist Juan-Carlos Formell performs a unique program of Cuban bolero and feeling on guitar & bass – – – with special guest Lewis Kahn on violin & trombone 9/08 & 9/15.
A classically trained bassist, virtuoso guitarist, and a composer gifted with a groundbreaking and powerful writing style, Juan-Carlos Formell is in the vanguard of a new generation of musicians from Cuba who are re-defining the relationship between Cuban music and jazz.
The Grammy-nominated musician returns to Zinc Bar in a three-week residency beginning Tuesday, September 1st, with Un Bolero Que Te Salve La Vida / A Bolero to Save Your Life – a unique program of Cuban Bolero and Feeling, as well as his own compositions, performed on guitar and bass. The celebrated trombonist/violinist Lewis Kahn, who has performed in a duo with Juan-Carlos at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola and Barbes, will join him on September 8th &13th.
“Juan-Carlos Formell expresses the essence of Cuban identity: multi-faceted and muti-racial, a cubistic face that combines the European troubadour with the Afro-influenced rumba and the progressive harmonies of the urban and very urbane, jazzy Feeling,” Enrique Fernandez, Miami Herald
In this unique program, Juan-Carlos, hailed by Billboard Magazine as “the new king of Cuban cool” deftly interweaves the four branches of the Bolero: the classic trova of the great troubadours of 19th century Santiago de Cuba, the popular songs of the Golden Age of Cuban music in the 1930s and ’40s, the masterpieces of Havana’s Feeling movement of the late 1940s and ’50s – and Juan-Carlos’s own visionary compositions.
In contrast to Cuba’s upbeat dance music, the music of Feeling is the essence of Cuban cool. A precursor to – and influence upon – bossa nova, el Feeling emerged from the private gatherings in after hours clubs in Central Havana in the late 1940s. Feeling’s freestyle guitar, with progressive harmonies, diminished chords and bittersweet texts of disillusioned love reflected the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Havana’s bohemian Afro-Cuban musicians: composer/guitarists Jose Antonio Mendez, Cesar Portillo de la Luz, Guyun; singers Elena Burke and Omara Portuondo; pianists Bebo Valdes and Peruchin.
Feeling was also the starting point of Juan-Carlos Formell’s musical biography. Born in Havana in 1964, a fourth generation Cuban musician, he learned the technique of the Feeling guitar from the creators of the genre: Mendez, Froilan, Guyun. He began composing in his teens and studied bass with Andres Escalona, the first bassist of the Havana Symphony Orchestra. After completing his studies, Juan-Carlos became the bassist for the jazz pianist Emiliano Salvador.
After touring Mexico as a replacement for bassist Cachaito Lopez in 1993, Juan-Carlos went to the United States to realize his mission of creating a new wave of Cuban music. He settled in New York City and started his band, with other young Cuban musicians who were also recently arrived.
Juan-Carlos describes the obstacles he encountered: “We’re a new generation of musicians who have come out of Cuba with something to say, with a mission to expand the definition of what Cuban music is and can be. We came to New York as pilgrims and mendicants, looking for a mecca of creative freedom – but found that we had to keep seceding from what we call ‘oficialismo’ — the official definition of jazz, and the terrible and imbecilic idea of what Latin music is ‘supposed’ to be — a loud dance party. We have the credentials to challenge the rules and the clichés of Latin music and the jazz establishment — we are making new music with our rules.”
His years of struggle were vindicated he was signed to BMG in 1999 and his debut album, “Songs from a Little Blue House”, produced by the legendary engineer/producer John Fischbach, was nominated for a Grammy.
Now, a decade and a half later, he is an internationally-known artist with five critically-acclaimed albums and accolades comparing him to iconic guitarist/composers Caetano Veloso, Joao Gilberto, Jackson Browne and Nick Drake.
Part poet, part prophet, Juan-Carlos has forged a post-modern identity for AfroCuban music that has been hailed as “ the magic realism of music.” His five albums constitute an epic poem of Antillean mytho-history, with songs that range from paeans to the flora and fauna of his native country, to a defiant call to freedom for a runaway slave, a personal invocation to an AfroCuban deity, or a celebration of the “divine light ” that resides in each of us.
Juan-Carlos has performed guitar solo shows in jazz venues and concert halls throughout the United States — in New York at Dizzy’s Coca-Cola, Joe’s Pub, Jazz Standard; The Bowery Ballroom; Living Room; The Knitting Factory; in Chicago at HotHouse; in New Orleans at Snug Harbor; in Seattle at The Town Hall; in Portland at The Blue Monk; in Oakland at Yoshi’s; in Berkeley at Freight & Salvage; in Los Angeles at Skirball Center and McCabe’s; in Miami at Hoy Como Ayer; The Van Dyke Cafe
Juan-Carlos Formell discography: Songs From a Little Blue House (RCA) — Las Calles del Paraiso (EMI) — Cemeteries & Desire (Narada) — Son Radical (Narada) — Johnny’s Dream Club (Caryatid)
NPR: JUAN FORMELL AT MONTERY JAZZ