Home New Music Pianist, Composer Albert Marquès releases Live in the South Bronx (Zoho)

Pianist, Composer Albert Marquès releases Live in the South Bronx (Zoho)


Zoho ZM 201616
Street Date: November 4, 2016

Featuring: Pianist Albert Marquès, Bassist Walter Stinson, Drummer Zack O’ Farrill 

Earlier, today I spoke to Albert Marquès about Live in the South Bronx. Here’s what he had to say.

“Live in the South Bronx is my fourth album as a bandleader and my first in the U.S. I’m proud of the fact that it is a live recording. Partly, because live recordings are so difficult to do and there are no ‘do-overs.’ Also, rather than strive for perfection, we went with the emotion that comes from being in the moment and the connection with the audience.

If you compare Live in the South Bronx to our previous album, Marquès/Stinson/O’Farrill Trio: iPa’lante! (Quadrant, 2014) you can hear how far the trio has come, individually and collectively.

The title was Zack’s idea. Many live albums proclaim, ‘Live at Carnegie Hall’ or ‘Live at the Blue Note.’ We chose ‘Live in the South Bronx’ because it was recorded, as it happened, at Pregones Theater, a performance space rooted in Puerto Rican and Latino cultures and artists who are committed to the arts and civic enrichment.

On the material, Zack O’ Farrill, Walter Stinson and I have been together for a long time. Long before we went into the studio, we performed the tunes at Cafe Vivaldi and other venues, every week for over year-and-a-half. Zack, Walter and I are happy with the results. We hope listeners enjoy it!” Tomas Peña



Bronx is old school. Its terrain is gritty, real and demanding of your best. It rewards you though. Music history oozes from there. Many of our heroes were either born here or passed through. That mixture of tough, demanding but fierce passion is born out of love for community, for raza (people) and for art.

Pregones is a Spanish for street crier. Whether selling, proclaiming or announcing, the pueblo is filled with the sounds of Pregones. The theater where this performance was recorded is an example of proclaiming, self-realizing. When no one would invest in the South Bronx, the South Bronx invested in itself and a neighborhood theater was born. Tough meets passion, dedication meets hard work and the Bronx rewards the result. Pregones is a testament to neighborhood activism.

Albert Marquès is tough but sweet, a Catalan transplant from Spain who created a life for himself in New York, and whose passion at the piano is only matched by his huge humanity and kindness. Walter Stinson is bass. He lives by his instrument and pours his soul into every note he plays. Zack O’Farrill, a gentleman I know quite well, has an encyclopedic knowledge of music, an intellect to match and the virtuosity/creativity at the drums to realize those qualities musically.

The three of them are fierce, tough and passionate, but tempered by love and mad respect for each other. This is the secret to their Art. Music is a demanding discipline, not for the faint hearted, one must be tough with a thick skin, yet flexible and passionate, willing to be vulnerable. All of this is impossible without that greatest of all humilities, love. Put your heart out there, lay your ego aside, and let the greater good shape your art. This is the story of the Bronx, the story of Pregones and the story of the Albert Marques Trio.

Doble Sur (Double South) is not a Spanish style of jump rope. It is a seamless blend of Afro Caribbean, Afro Mediterranean performance practice. It is montuno meets Phrygian in technical language, but for the layman it is rice and beans with manchego and chorizo. This piece is not solo-derived, but rather built on bold strokes of color and rhythm.

This composition, IDN, first made its appearance on their self-released debut recording but makes its presence again here on their ZOHO debut, as if put through fire, the dross burned away and a leaner, meaner version emerges. Walter’s introduction is unrestrained without being indulgent. The trio responds telepathically to the piano solo and it morphs, as the tension builds to the bass and drum improvisation.

These young masters give Iris, the Wayne Shorter composition, a loving treatment.
You can hear the reverence and awe they have for Wayne. Again Walter wears his heart
on his sleeve for his beautiful bass solo. Albert follows suit giving us a glimpse into a firmly Spanish take on jazz balladry.

Jazz Is Working Class takes on many who would argue that it is the sport of the elite.
Before there were expensive buildings to maintain and seasons to program, jazz took
place without soft drink sponsors, and was subversive. This composition captures the
rebelliousness oan art form that belongs to the pueblo no matter how much plastic you
cover it in.

The provocation between Albert and Zack that leads to the drum solo is confrontational
and illustrates the need for jazz to never abandon its hardscrabble roots.

Cançó Pel Pare (Father Song) is beautifully appropriate to Albert who in this piece celebrates the center of his joy, being a young dad to a beautiful baby daughter, Aviva. If you know this about him, you’ve discovered his soul. Being young and a working musician with a new family can be a terrifying reality so this piece has both an edge and a reassurance to it.

Bill Withers is a big hero to a lot of us jazz musicians and one of his masterpieces
is Ain’t No Sunshine. It is piece about love that is so real that there is cost involved. Not
the fluffy it’s all about “me” love, but the kind that makes demands This is the love that
playing instruments is about. It costs, and it involves some measure of sacrifice.
Musicians understand this. To love is to give, to hurt, to miss, to fear but most of
all to groove.

Walter Stinson’s original, Allen Watts, is a portrait, a miniature. Like so much of Walter’s writing it is definitive and unlike anyone else’s work. There is an introspective quality to Albert’s solo that feels integral to the composition. When you are a musical painter, like Walter, your solos have to reflect the quality of contemplative study.

I don’t know what Zack has A Foggy Conscience about (and maybe I don’t want to know) but I do know that this is exciting compositionally. It’s new but doesn’t feel like a belabored new. It feels like honest and rooted exploration. The dark, brooding quality in this piece has no relation to the nature of the Zack we know. But honesty as a composer is about vulnerability and wearing your explorer badge. I love the fluidity and ESP these three share, as they take the composition out for a walk.

Final Thoughts

This is not cartoon jazz, or stereotypical Latin Jazz trio. It is modern, fusing elements of Rock, Jazz , Flamenco, R&B with a healthy dose of introspection. Just because I know these guys, I can assure you there isn’t a fake moment in the recording. Every note is played with grit, reality, and love. It seems easy to make records that fit a neat category, affirm one’s identity and serve as musical wallpaper. It is a lot more difficult to go on journeys that demand honesty, a willingness to open up, the ability to withstand grit and funk, and to be real. But boy oh boy, do these young masters reflect the Bronx, Pregones and the pueblos they come from, boy do they reward. Arturo O’ Farrill, July, 2016

CD Release Events
Rockwood Music Hall,  November 27 @ 8:30PM Featuring Zack O’ Farrill
Cornelia St Cafe,  December 17 @ 6PM, Featuring Ari Hoenig

Artist Website: http://www.albertmarques.com
Label Website: http://zohomusic.com
Featured Photo: Jazz Photographer, Goio Villanueva

A graduate of Empire State College with a dual major in journalism and Latin American studies, Tomas Peña has spent years applying his knowledge and writing skills to the promotion of great musicians. A specialist in the crossroads between jazz and Latin music, Peña has written extensively on the subject.


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