WBGO Blog
  • The Return of Salsa Meets Jazz

    November 3, 2008. Posted by Vincent Bochis.

    Bobby Sanabria
    Last month, Salsa Meets Jazz returned to Greenwich Village. The show was held at Le Poisson Rouge, located at the site of the old Village Gate, at Bleecker and Thompson, where Salsa Meets Jazz originated in the 1980's.Bobby Sanabria's nineteen piece juggernaut roared through two sets. The first set included new power arrangements of Latin jazz classics "Manteca" and "Tin Tin Deo." Selections from the band's latest album Big Band Urban Folktales included trombonist Chris Washburne's composition "Pink," which Sanabria described as a song that captures the sights in the city every summer. Trumpet great John Faddis' muscular virtuosity in "Tin Tin Deo" set the bar for the ozone-piercing trumpet work of the four regular section members. The defining rhythms of legendary guest artist, conguero Candido Camero, demonstrated that he continues, at the age of 87, to be a grand master who delights in connecting with the audience. Original Village Gate impresario Art D'Lugoff, who serves as a consultant to Salsa Meets Jazz and other productions, was on hand. WBGO's Awilda Rivera was the host for the evening.

    On December 1, Salsa Meets Jazz returns to Le Poisson Rouge. Latin Jazz icon Larry Harlow and his orchestra will be joined by guest artist, the renowned baritone saxophonist Ronnie Cuber.

  • Bourne in Montreal - Part Four

    June 30, 2008. Posted by Michael Bourne.

    Woody Allen at FIJM

    Day Four  Sunday June 29th

    Amy's favorite for brunch, Cafe Cherrier, with Amy, Becca, and Michele.  I don't have to walk a dozen blocks to my own favorite for brunch, Eggspectation, now that they've opened another creperie on the corner of Place des Arts.

    Almost to the minute at 6, thunder rumbled, and rain fell just as the quintet of guitarist Reno de Stefano started playing.  I hate umbrellas but I needed to be under to write notes for the judging, but I didn't have much to write.   Most of the groups in the competition are younger players, but all the cats in DeStefano's quintet are jazz vets, or, as I noted, "grown-ups."  They've been around.  They know how to play tunes on the changes hiply.  They swing.  They can't win the prize.

    Avi Granite 6 is a definite contender.  Even as they walked out, I could see the "thing" was about to happen.  Granite plays guitar with a front line of alto, tenor, and trombone.  They played out but tunefully right from the jump, and the groove from the bass and drums was always propulsive.  Each of the players was a solid soloist.  Granite himself played guitar as if playing beyond the strings, as if playing the very electricity of the amp.   They often looked quite serious yet were often whimsical, especially the trombonist.  Avi Granite 6 is the group to beat.

    Woody Allen played to the multi-thousands of the big hall, Salle Wilfrid Pelletier.  I wondered if so many came because they expected him to be funny.  Except for saying hello and saying they'd be playing music from New Orleans, he was there to play clarinet.  When he first played, he was squeaky, he articulated notes somewhat awkwardly, and some in the audience tittered, thinking maybe he was being funny.   He was not.  Woody Allen is a tremendously adequate clarinetist, but he plays with considerable spirit, as do they all in what was called Woody Allen and His New Orleans Jazz Band.  They played and sometimes sang (everyone but Woody) blues and songs from the 20's.  When they whipped up the second line, Woody's clarinet sounded best and truly soared above the romping and stomping.  Woody thanked everyone, said this was his first time ever in Montreal.  "Playing this music for you was a treat for us," he said.  And at the finale, the multi-thousands stood and roared for more.  "I don't think they expected a reaction like this," said Michele.   Woody and the guys came back out, nodding thanks, and Eddy Davis, banjoist and the actual leader of the band, nodded his head toward the bandstand.  So they played not only more, but a lot more, including an ecstatic "Saint Louis Blues."

    We were in a room overlooking the big GM stage on the Place and, even in the rain, the crowd was dancing to a reggae/funk show called  Jamaica to Toronto.   Michele lives in Portland, so she's used to the rain.  We walked through the "spitting" to the Club Soda, but as we passed one of the tents for SIMM,  the festival's free Salon des Instruments de Musique de Montreal, 50 or 60 folks were thundering on hand drums.   Steve's Music Store in Montreal was conducting a drum-along.  Everyone who came in, including us, was handed an African hand drum and welcomed to join in the rhythmic rumble.   Invigorated from the drumming, we came to Club Soda for one of the midnight shows.  This was where, two years ago, as I wrote in the piece I posted on the WBGO blog last week,  I realized how much jazz is re-defined at the Montreal jazzfest.  You can hear the full-tilt New Orleans trad of Woody Allen and then hear the electro-klezmer-hip-hip of the group Socalled.   I'm not kidding: klezmer rap.  I was the oldest in the house, but, as always in Montreal, I was game ...

  • John Fedchock's New York Big Band at Cachaca

    June 10, 2008. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Cachaca on West 8th Street is new. (Much on West 8th Street is new.) It's a deep, inviting, sound-lively room and the John Fedchock's Big Band took it over tonight. The band has been together 20 years with consistent personnel, but I understand it doesn't often play live. Having heard some tracks on BGO, I've been determined to get out and see them. Good idea! Trombonist and composer Fedchock is a veteran of the Woody Herman orchestra. Two of John's arrangements in the middle of the set -- of Eclipse by Freddy Hubbard and Epistrophy by Monk -- seemed to transcend the situation. Eclipse had a phrase that (to me) channeled the Woody Herman's orchestra, which I've never heard but I'm sure I heard it in that phrase. In Epistrophy there was a short stretch (a matter of measures) that sounded JUST LIKE New York gridlock. Stuck but with energy. I couldn't stop to ponder how they did that because I would have missed the next excitement. There was background writing for most of the solos, no one was left to fend for himself for long. Once again (as last week with the Roy Hargrove Big Band), the room moved. That's my report & I'm happy to deliver it. The most recent CD is Up and Running (Reservoir label).
    -Becca