JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER
JAZZ ACROSS THE AMERICAS
JUNE 12-13, 2015
What better way for Jazz at Lincoln Center to end the 2014-15 season than by honoring a Puerto Rican Mambo King, an Afro-Cuban forefather and the inheritor of their legacies?
The performance showcased the music of Ernest Anthony “Tito” Puente Jr., Frank “Machito” Grillo and bassist, musical director, and long-time member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Carlos Henriquez.
To his credit, Henriquez sought the council of former members of the Tito Puente Orchestra, Jose Madera and Johnny “Dandy” Rodriguez, and author, historian and long-time friend of Tito Puente, Joe Conzo Sr., who assisted him with the daunting task of choosing the repertoire and giving the music an air of authenticity.
The icing on the cake was the inclusion of percussionist George Delgado, trumpeter Pete Nater and vocalists, Marco Bermudez and Cita Rodriguez (daughter of the late, great Pete “El Conde” Rodriguez).
The repertoire conjured up images of the world famous Palladium Ballroom, where the Big Three (Machito, Puente and Tito Rodriguez) held court, exceptional dancers were the order of the day and race and class were superseded by one’s ability to dance.
Highlights included sizzling interpretations of Yambeque, Agua Limpia Todo, Bongo Fiesta, Cita Rodriguez’s interpretation of the bolero, Cuando Te Fuiste De Mi and Abaniquito, which had the audience on their feet.
Felt but not seen were the spirits of former members of the Tito Puente and Orchestra and Machito and his Afro-Cubans: Santitos Colon, Mario Bauza, Jose Madera Sr., Johnny Rodriguez Sr., Ray Barretto, Mongo Santamaria, Vicentico Valdes, Jimmy Frisaura, Willie Bobo, Charlie Palmieri and Graciela among others.
Kudos, to Jazz at Lincoln Center for providing the public with thoughtful pre-concert discussions, interesting and enlightening program notes, live streaming and for celebrating the influence of the rich musical traditions of the Caribbean, North, South and Central America, which have had an impact on jazz throughout history.
I look forward to Jazz at Lincoln Center’s 2015-16 season, which will showcase the depth, beauty, diversity of Jazz and American Song.
Tito Puente – Quatro – The Definitive Collection (Sony, 2012)
Machito and His Salsa Big Band at North Sea ’82 (Timeless, 2008)