Posts Tagged ‘jazz’

Apollo’s Girl

January 13, 2016

apollo and lyre

O, Arturo—O, Sandoval!

Walking into the World Music Institute’s recent concert at the 92nd Street Y, you knew right away that something BIG was going to happen. The stage was packed with things that go bang in the night: conga drums, snare drums, bongos, claves, maracas, three electric keyboards (with attachments for Latin bells and whistles), a piano, a few guitars and trumpets, and loudspeakers and wires. Many wires. If I’m leaving anything out, it’s because before the inventory was completed the lights dimmed, the applause began, and suddenly they were there in the shadows—sidemen and conspirators

Cuban emigre Jazz musician Arturo Sandoval performs on trumpet with his band with Kemuel Poig on piano, John Belazguy on upright electric bass, Johnny Friday on drums, Dave Siegel on keyboard, and Tiki Pasillas on percussion at the Kaufmann Concert Hall of the 92nd Street Y, New York, New York, Wednesday, December 2, 2015. The concert was co-presented by the 92nd Street Y and the World Music Institute. CREDIT: Photograph © 2015 Jack Vartoogian/FrontRowPhotos. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

CREDIT: Photograph © 2015 Jack Vartoogian/FrontRowPhotos. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

slipping into place among their instruments. Then he was thereArturo Sandoval himselfundisputed trumpet, keyboard, guitar and percussion meister and, yes, a man of many moves.

From his personal space he dreamily played a few notes on the electric keyboard and, as seamlessly as they had appeared on the stage, the band was with him. Blowing, plucking, striking, fingering, their music flowed by. Standards alternated with Latin classics summoned by fans and countrymen calling out from the audience, joining in a collective swoon. Sandoval moved from genre to genre, from instrument to instrument like a Cuban Pied Piper; wherever he went, everyone followed. The sound of cooking rose from the stage as the evening’s gifts were built to a master plan of his devising. It was the building (as much as the cooking) that defined the program. Because it’s not just about being able to play virtually any instrument in any style or any key, or being able to dance nimbly ditto (often while playing one or more instruments), but about being a born entertainer. So Sandoval’s offerings were brilliantly calibrated between fast and slow, classics and cutting-edge, chestnuts and original compositions, as they shape-shifted to keep the audience close. And, like most great performers, he revels in the connection he spins and keeps alive until the last note of the last encore and the fervant applause.

Sandoval is no ordinary musical genius; born in Cuba in 1949, he studied classical trumpet, served in the Army cleaning barracks while making music at night, and trying every way he could to develop his musical ambitions. After meeting and bonding with Dizzie Gillespie in Havana in 1977, he joined Paquito De’Rivera and Chucho Valdez to found the Afro-Cuban band Irakere a year later. Gillespie 01-ArturoSandoval-Dizzy-Gillespie-Courtesy-of-Arturo-Sandoval-620x384continued to spread the word about Sandoval’s talent and to include him on many of his own international tours. On one of them, in 1990, Sandoval decided to leave Cuba and to live permanently in the United States. Since then, he has racked up astonishing numbers: a search of the Internet serves up over 40 albums; collaborations with pop and jazz icons of every genre; titles of 16 movie and TV scores (including one for the HBO biopic For Love or Country: The Arturo love or countrySandoval Story, starring Andy Garcia); an original ballet score choreographed by Debbie Allen; and a trumpet concerto album with the London Symphony that includes his own classical concerto. Oh, and there’s the memoir (Dizzy Gillespie: The Man Who Changed My Life), the books on trumpet technique, the Oscars, Grammies, and Billboard Awards, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. That about sums it up. medal of freedom

Meantime, at the Y, he ran the gamut of his limitless repertoire, giving the adoring crowd a medley of seasonal favorites punctuated by a brief account of his first American gig at Carnegie Hall (straight off the plane and onto the stage) and a display of his monumental technique: first on the trumpet, with a tribute to Maynard Ferguson, then on the piano with a composition of his own, smiling as he scorched the entire keyboard andsomewhere in between—launched the sassiest. most original, anarchic and exhilarating version of Peanut Vendor, ever. There were, of course, a few encores (part of the master plan) and, finally, a valedictory to the audience: “When you go home tonight,” he implored, “instead of watching TV, download the lyrics to this song and you will sleep so well! And you will smile when you wake up…”

Then he raised his trumpet to his lips one last time and played Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile”, pulling out all the stops. Shameless? Yes, but it did the job, moving everyone out into the street smiling, their tears mingling with the falling rain.

Arturo Sandoval will be on the road, coming back this way at the Blue Note in late spring: And the World Music Insitute and its new artistic director, Par Neiburger, will have some surprises up their collective sleeve for the rest of their 30th anniversary season: It’s a win-win situation.

Apollo’s Girl

October 4, 2015

Music, Video

apollo and lyre



It’s World Animal Day; just click on the links to celebrate.

JACK Quartet (Miller Theatre)/
Internet Cat Video Festival (MAD);

On September 17, Miller Theatre at Columbia University jackopened its 2014/15 calendar with a take-no-prisoners premiere of Simon Steen-Andersen’s Run Time Error, performed by the composer and the JACK Quartet. It was definitely a trip! I’ve never heard anything quite like it, and am taking the easy way out by pointing you to the NY Times‘ review of the concert by Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim.

Times’ review

Miller has become known for the adventurous programs devised by its director, Melissa Smey whose interests traverse the entire range of human history, whose choices require the use of the word “fearless” for every performance, and who appears to know just about everything. The real thrill is in seeing and hearing how she puts it all together.

jl adamsComing up: A triple exposure of John Luther Adams’ compositions (he won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2014) on October 7, 9, and 10. But it’s not only what’s new but, sometimes, what’s old: a screening of Carl Dreyer’s iconic silent, The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), starring the equally iconic Falconetti, with 15th-passion-of-joan-of-arc-480x270century music by the Orlando Consort (October 14 and 16). There’s jazz, too. And, earlier this year (on April 1), even the launch of the Canine Composers series; surely a first, but likely to become an audience favorite:

It’s exhilarating to experience Smey’s seasons, which appear to become more innovative and appealing every year. Just get on board and stretch:

It was a triumph! The Pope had just left the pope
West Side and was on his way to Madison Square Garden. As the faithful streamed out of Central Park, another crowd surged into the Museum of Art and Design; the Internet Cat Video Festival (from the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis) was about to begin, and it was standing room only. cat vidThere were very few old ladies in sneakers, but hordes of millennials wearing them mad_exteriorinstead, and applause and laughter rose from the committed like a much-needed benediction. 

The Museum has unveiled a new season of events including cinema, performance, talks, encounters and workshops. Although I can personally recommend the upcoming 99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film (previously enjoyed at FSLC’s Human Rights Watch Festival);, MAAD’s season looks more than promising. The cinema, in particular, is well-curated, and free! You know what to do….. 

Apollo’s Girl

May 13, 2013




The Girls in the Band: One Joyful Noise!

Go. See. This. Movie. No—really—go see this movie now! GIRLS%20IN%20THE%20BAND%20FLYER_11_5_12Unless there’s an act of the Gods of Film, it’s due to leave the Film Society’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Center  on May 16, so you have to be quick.

Much has been said and screened about women’s rights, the glass ceiling, the difference between the sexes and, even now, what should women do with  their lives. One thing they can and should do is play jazz, with all its power, joy  and complexity. If you ever had any doubts, The Girls in the Band will sweep  them away. Not only in the extraordinary interviews with some of the big names,  but with many that you never heard of. And, with all of them, it’s not just their  words but their music.

There are trombone players, saxophonists, trumpetistes, drummers, guitarists,  cabaret stars, whole bands and orchestras in one long unbroken swinging line from the 1920s all the way to Esperanza Spalding, the 2011 Best New Artist  Grammy-winner. And Maria Schneider who, when asked by a reporter “What’s
schneiderit like to be a woman arranger?” replies“What’s it like to be a male journalist?”

Along the way, they conjure up a lost world of concert halls and clubs like The Cookery, Hickory House, and the Rainbow Room. The stories they tell  about Jim Crow (it was always worse for them than for the male bands), of  civil rights, of women’s rights, even of support from men like Woody HermanHerbie Hancock and (in the very short-term, Tommy Dorsey), are alternately  heartbreaking and hilarious.

Let’s put it this way: if you love jazz, you will learn things you never knew, one gorgeous riff at a time, and you will love The Girls in the Band. And if you think nothing compares to rock and roll, sink into the largely acoustic sound track of this succulent movie and change your mind.

Note: Two high notes to look out for: the final sequence, and one of the (big surprise!)producing credits. And just try this: site/video. This just in: there will be a two-week run at the Quad Cinema in New York beginning May 24, and you can also see The Girls in the Band at the Laemmle Noho 7 in L.A. from June 7–13.)

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