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Jazz Articles

LIVE REVIEWS October 27, 2013

Branford Marsalis Quartet at Max Fisher Music Center

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Branford Marsalis Quartet Max Fisher Music Center Detroit, MI October 11, 2013 The Branford Marsalis Quartet is arguably the best small unit working in jazz these days, as proven by the performance of the BMQ in Detroit. This concert was the opening event for the superb jazz series presented by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The emcee for the concert just happened to be renowned trumpeter and (Marsalis home-boy) Terence Blanchard, who unbeknownst to the audience was to be a participant in the evening's show. Marsalis is well known ...

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LIVE REVIEWS September 17, 2013

Detroit Jazz Festival 2013

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Detroit Jazz FestivalDetroit, MIAugust 30-September 2, 2013You have read the news and heard the stories on radio and TV. Detroit is bankrupt and going into ruin. However, Gretchen Valade definitely doesn't appear to believe the hype, as she managed to fashion the Detroit Jazz Festival (DJF) into one of the largest, most star-studded musical parties in North America, with four stages scattered all over downtown Detroit over the Labor Day weekend.In 2012, newly-appointed artistic director Chris Collins kicked off his rookie year with an extravaganza which featured the likes of Sonny Rollins, Wynton Marsalis, and ...

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INTERVIEWS August 26, 2013

John Santos: Keeper of the Culture

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In a career spanning almost 40 years, percussionist John Santos has gained world-wide renown and acclaim as one of the great composers and bandleaders in the Afro-Cuban jazz idiom. The four-time Grammy nominee is one of the foremost proponents of Afro-Latin music in the world today, known for his innovative use of its traditional musical forms and instruments. Santos has performed, recorded and studied with acknowledged Afro-Latin and Jazz masters such as Cachao,Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Bebo Valdés, Armando Peraza, Eddie Palmieri, Patato Valdés, Francisco Aguabella, Max Roach, Steve Turré and Alfredo “Chocolate" Armenteros.Born in San Francisco to ...

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CATCHING UP WITH August 19, 2013

Poncho Sanchez: Mambo King

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For over 30 years, conguero/bandleader Poncho Sanchez has been the premier proponent of West Coast Latin Jazz. Growing up in Norwalk, California, Sanchez was exposed to and influenced by two very different styles of music: Afro-Cuban music and bebop, as well as R&B. Originally a guitarist, Sanchez taught himself the flute, drums, and timbales before finally deciding to pursue conga playing in high school. In 1975, Sanchez's idol, vibraphonist “Cal Tjader invited him to perform with his band. Sanchez played with Tjader for several years until Tjader's death in 1982.Thanks to Tjader, Sanchez signed with Concord Picante Records, ...

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INTERVIEWS June 24, 2013

Miguel Zenon: Celebrating the Music of La Isla

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For the last decade, saxophonist Miguel Zenón has distinguished himself as one of the most innovative and creative musicians in the modern jazz idiom. The Puerto Rican-born altoist accomplished this feat by reaching back to the musical and cultural traditions of his island. On groundbreaking recordings such as Jibaro (Marsalis Music, 2005) and Esta Plena (Marsalis Music, 2009), Zenón paid musical homage to the rich rhythms of Bomba and Plena. Alma Adentro (Marsalis Music, 2011) was a heartfelt tribute to great Puerto Rico composers such as “Tite' Curet Alonso, Bobby Capo and Rafael Hernandez. The music world was also paying ...

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LIVE REVIEWS January 11, 2013

Planet D Nonet Annual Do-Ra

Planet D NonetPlanet D Nonet Do-RaDetroit Institute of ArtDetroit, MIDecember 28, 2012The Detroit music scene is well known for its firm groundings in blues R&B, rock and hard-bop, which includes a large community of musicians as well as a solid fan base. What isn't as well known is that there is a sizable following for avant-garde jazz, especially for the music and mystique of Sun Ra. This interest in the legendary bandleader and visionary dates back to the early '70s when his Arkestra played the Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival. In addition, ...

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LIVE REVIEWS November 29, 2012

Michael Hanna: Detroit, Michigan, November 9, 2012

Michael Hanna & FriendsBaker's Keyboard LoungeDetroit, MichiganNovember 9, 2012In jazz circles, as within most artistic idioms, talent can be generational. The most apparent example of this is the Marsalis clan. Other notable father-son duos include John and Ravi Coltrane, Chico and Arturo O'Farrill, as well as Dewey and Joshua Redman. The latest to delve into the family business is singer Michael Hanna, who is the son of pianist Sir Roland Hanna. Instead of taking up piano, he steered toward the vocal arts, and it was not his first choice of careers. Hanna, who has loved ...

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EXTENDED ANALYSIS September 16, 2012

Francisco Mora Catlett: Afro Horn MX

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Francisco Mora Catlett Afro Horn MXAACE Records2012When Afro-Mexican Drummer Francisco Mora Catlett first came to this country in the1970s, he dreamed of playing drums for the Sun Ra Arkestra. Not only did Mora achieve his dream, he also forged a lifelong relationship with drum legend Max Roach, which resulted in his performing in Roach's seminal drum ensemble, M'Boom. As a composer and bandleader in Detroit, Mora focused on creating Music of “The Afro-Americas," a vision which encompassed fusing the music of Cuba, Brazil with American modern jazz.For the highly-anticipated double-disc ...

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LIVE REVIEWS September 15, 2012

Gerald Cleaver & Uncle June: Detroit Jazz Festival, September 2, 2012

Gerald Cleaver & Uncle JuneDetroit Jazz FestivalDetroit, MISeptember 2, 2012The 2012 Detroit Jazz Fest had one of the best lineups in years, especially for fans of the mainstream headliners. However, for those who like their music adventurous and intrepid, it wasn't that type of party. The one standout act, though, was Detroit drummer Gerald Cleaver, who was part of a crew of young guns from the Motor City who have since gone on to put their mark on the New York, and world, jazz scenes. Ever since he was at the University of Michigan, Cleaver ...

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LIVE REVIEWS September 15, 2012

Arturo O'Farrill Sextet: Detroit Jazz Festival, September 2, 2012

Arturo O'Farrill SextetDetroit Jazz FestivalDetroit, MISept. 2, 2012This year's Detroit Jazz Festival had so much from the Latin side that one could choose from the genre buffet. If the Puerto Rican plate didn't move you, there was The West Coast flavas and even some Spanish sabor. For the fans of good ol' straight-up Cubop, though, there was pianist Arturo O'Farrill.A scion of Afro-Cuban Jazz royalty, O'Farrill has attained a high status in jazz circles for his leadership of the Grammy-winning Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra. For his first Detroit Jazz Fest appearance, O' Farrill brought ...

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LIVE REVIEWS September 12, 2012

Papo Vasquez Mighty Pirates Troubadours: Detroit, MI, September 1, 2012

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Papo Vasquez Mighty Pirates TroubadoursDetroit Jazz FestivalDetroit, MISeptember 1, 2012When a musician decides to play Latin,, it is easy for him to get pigeonholed into the Salsa circuit with a little instrumental mambo disguised as Latin jazz thrown in. This isn't the case for trombonist Papo Vasquez who, for the last 20 years produced some of the most creatively eclectic and innovative music in the Afro-Latin Jazz genre. For one, the Puerto Rican Vasquez grew up in the Badlands of North Philly, a town where aspiring players have to be well-versed in bop, funk blues ...

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