The mood was upbeat and celebratory as the Grammy winner, trumpeter, educator Charlies Sepulveda and the Turnaround launched a three-night residency at Dizzy’s (Jazz at Lincoln Center) in the heart of midtown Manhattan.
Sepulveda resides, teaches, and performs in Puerto Rico but he is no stranger to the Big Apple. He honed his craft there in the 70s and 80s alongside his cousin, Eddie Palmieri, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, and Dizzy Gillespie among others. Today, he is the Musical Director for the Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Rockefeller Foundation. Also, he is a professor at Puerto Rico’s Conservatory of Music and leads the Turnaround.
The event at Dizzy’s was historic for a variety of reasons. After a long absence, it marked Sepulveda’s return to a New York stage. Also, it brought together a once-in-a-lifetime lineup that included the trumpeter, Randy Brecker, trombonist Steve Turre, saxophonist Miguel Zenon and flutist, Nestor Torres. Also, the repertoire included selections from the albums, Songs for Nat and Mr. E.P. – A Tribute to Eddie Palmieri and contemporary interpretations of the music of Perez Prado, Dizzy, Gillespie, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, and the Argentine composer, Ariel Ramirez.
Highlights included the ensemble’s interpretation of Perez Prado’s chart-topping hit, Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White, and a touching duet between Sepulveda and his wife, Natalia Mercado on the Latin American classic, Alfonso y el Mar.
The Turnaround is a multi-generational conglomeration of established and emerging virtuosos, who seamlessly fuse Latin jazz, Hard Bop, and Afro-Caribbean rhythms. “Today, what is called ‘Latin Jazz’ is different in so many ways. Earlier it was oriented towards Afro-Cuban styles,” says Sepulveda, “I play the traditional form of Latin jazz mixed with hard bop and Puerto Rican styles like Bomba, Plena, and Danza.”
The performances, which were entirely sold out, did much to dispel the misconception that Puerto Rico lacks a robust jazz scene and jazz players. Also, it clearly demonstrated a demand for Puerto Rican artists and music that, generally speaking, is not being met.
Those who, for one reason or another, could not attend will be happy to know HighNote Records recorded the event for posterity. THIS IS LATIN JAZZ is available on all digital platforms and Amazon.com
THE TURNAROUND Trumpeter, Leader Charlie Sepulveda, Tenor Saxophonist Norberto Tiko Ortiz, Conguero Nick Cosaboom, bassist Gabriel Rodriguez, pianist Eduardo Zayas, drummer Francisco Alcalá, vocalist Natalia Mercado.
INVITED GUESTS Trombonist Steve Turre, Alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón, Flutist Nestor Torres.
Featured Photo: Charlie Sepulveda. Small Photo, Members of The Turnaround with Miguel Zenon – Pianist, Eduardo Zayas, Percussionist Nick Cosaboom, Drummer Francisco Alcalá, Bassist Gabriel Rodriguez, Saxophonist Norberto Tiko Ortiz.
Charlie Sepulveda and the Turnaround – Songs for Nat (High-Note, 2017) Charlie Sepulveda – Algo Nuestro (Polygram, 1993) Jon Secada featuring the Charlie Sepulveda Big Band – To Beny More With Love (BMG, 2017)