Welcome to the first installment of BEHIND THE MUSIC—a forum where I share my thoughts on a variety of topics. Also, anecdotes and highlights of interviews and encounters with artists such as William Cepeda, Poncho Sanchez, McCoy Tyner, Jane Bunnett, Omar Sosa, Ignacio Berroa, Charlie Sepulveda, Francisco Mora Catlett, Michele Rosewoman, Papo Vazquez and Dafnis Prieto among others. Lastly, I’ll give readers the scoop on artists and recordings under the radar and performances off the beaten path.
Recently I interviewed the author, educator Basilio Serrano about his most recent book, PUERTO RICAN WOMEN FROM THE JAZZ AGE – STORIES OF SUCCESS (AuthorHouse, 2019). The book tells the stories of 15 Puerto Rican women – singers, instrumentalists, dancers, actresses – who made their marks in the States and Puerto Rico despite insurmountable odds including the language barrier, harsh weather, racism, sexism, and an industry dominated by men. “It hasn’t occurred to anyone,” said Serrano, “to write a full-length biography about any of these women.” Now that we know who the women are and what they accomplished, it’s incumbent on the public to support Serrano’s work and other like-minded writers, researchers, and historians.
As I write this, THE AGUAS TRIO – pianist Omar Sosa, violinist, vocalist Yilian Canizares and the percussionist, Gustavo Ovalles – are amid a 5-night residency at BIRDLAND in New York City. I’ve been following Omar’s career since he burst onto the scene with the solo recording, “Omar, Omar,” in the late 90s. Over the years, I’ve seen him play in every configuration imaginable – solo, duo, trio, quartet, and with a large international ensemble. Sosa is a Thelonious Monk devotee, but I’ve never heard him interpret Monk’s music, or play a jazz standard. His music is unique, original and draws from a wide variety of influences – African and Afro-Caribbean rhythms, jazz, classical, R &B, rap, electronica, and religious (Yoruba) music and ritual. Initial reports on the Birdland residency, “Fantastic show!” Why am I not surprised?
- CON LA MUSICA POR DENTRO – Josean Ramos (Spanish Edition)
- CONGAHEAD – THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARTIN COHEN (Martin Cohen with Clinton Bradley)
- SAOCO SALSERO! O, EL SWING DEL SONERO MAYOR – Sociologica Urbana de la Memoria del Ritmo – Angel G. Quintero-Rivera (Spanish Edition)
- ALMADURA – ILE
- TIME ZONE, CROSSING THE LINE – LOZ SPEYER
- LYLE MAYS – SELF-TITLED
- THE MUSIC OF WAYNE SHORTER – JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER ORCHESTRA WITH WYNTON MARSALIS
- LUZ – CARLOS SARDUY
PERFORMANCES OFF THE BEATEN PATH
- FEVERUP CONCERT SERIES: MUSIC BY CANDLELIGHT: THE BEST OF LATIN AMERICAN COMPOSERS FEATURING SWEET PLAINTAIN. Music by Astor Piazzola, Luiz Simas, Aldemaro Romero, Eddie Venegas, Antonio Carlos Jobim, David Gotay, and more… Thursday, May 14th. Middle Collegiate Church. 112 2nd Ave. NY, NY, 2 shows. 6:30 and 10 P.M.
- THE CURTIS BROTHERS AT THE JAZZ GALLERY, NYC: Bassist Luques Curtis and pianist Zaccai Curtis will be joined by saxophonist Nick Biello, trumpeter Josh Lawrence, and drummer Mark Whitfield Jr. Tickets range from $15 to $25. The group will play on Thursday, February 27, 2020, at 7:30 and 9:30 PM.