The mood was celebratory at Dizzy’s as the trumpeter Charlie Sepulveda and his group The Turnaround launched a three-night run at the iconic venue.
Charlie resides and makes his living in Puerto Rico, but he is no stranger to the Big Apple. He honed his craft in the city’s thriving music scene during the 1970s and 80s and as a sideman with 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 Rockefeller Foundation, a Professor at the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music, and leads The Turnaround. Also, in 2017, he and the singer, Jon Secada, earned a Grammy for the recording, “To Beny More With Love.”
At Dizzy’s, the ensemble and guests Steve Turre, Miguel Zenon, and Nestor Torres, who took turns sitting in, interpreted selections from the albums, “Songs for Nat (High-Note),” and “Mr. E.P.- A Tribute to Eddie Palmieri” (High-Note). Also, they tipped their hats to influencers Perez Prado, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, and Mongo Santamaria. Highlights include a contemporary interpretation of Prado’s famous hit, “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White,” and a heartfelt duet between Charlie and his wife, Natalia (Nat for short).
The Turnaround is a conglomeration of established and fledgling virtuosos, who thrive on exploring a vast array of stylistic influences including 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 Charlie, “I play the traditional form of Latin jazz mixed with hard bop and always with Puerto Rican styles like Bomba, Plena, and Danza.”
The performance was historic for several reasons. It dispelled the misconception that Puerto Rico lacks a robust jazz scene. Also, the sold-out performances demonstrated there a demand for Puerto Rican Jazz that is not being filled (club owners, take heed!). For those who could not attend, never fear, the event was recorded for posterity. Expect a review when the recording becomes available.
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)
PHOTOS: Top: Charlie Sepulveda, Norberto Ortiz. Middle: Steve Turre, Charlie Sepulveda, Norberto Ortiz. Bottom: Nestor Torres. All photos by Andrew James.