Latin Jazz Cavalcade

Nick Catalano By

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The onslaught of compelling Latin jazz concerts, club performances and recordings here in Gotham are attracting audiences all over town. Here are a few highlights.

On Friday, January 11, Catalonian pianist Chano Dominguez appeared at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola accompanied by drummer Dafnis Prieto. Selections from Dominguez's critically acclaimed Blue Note CD Flamenco Sketches (2012)—a tribute to trumpeter Miles Davis—provided the repertoire for the show. The incorporation of various flamenco textures and motifs set against such Davis standards as "Blue In Green" reminded me of a similar CD experiment, Miles from India (Four Quarters, 2008), on which saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa introduced Indian traditions to jazz audiences using Davis' music. The harmonic ideas of the early beboppers continue to provide a suitable framework for jazz musicians, no matter their specific culture. The vocalizing which accompanied some of the music recalled the Islamic strains often heard in the music of southern Spain. Prieto's drumming was a highlight throughout the set.

In all my years of reviewing, I haven't come across anyone with more compositional and instrumental originality than Hermeto Pascoal. On many occasions, in this New York Beat column, I have bemoaned the infrequent presence of the legendary Brazilian in our town to no avail. He steadfastly refuses American exposure. So it is gratifying to see vibraphonist Erik Charlston and hometown heroes, saxophonist Ted Nash and pianist Mark Soskin, continuing to promulgate the genius of the Albino guru long ago introduced to American jazz audiences by, you guessed it, Miles Davis. Charlston's important Sunnyside CD, Essentially Hermeto (2011), was resurrected in a live performance at Dizzy's on January 7. Actually, Pascoal honored Jazz at Lincoln Center by appearing during the inauguration of its new home in the Time-Warner facility. But, alas, we haven't seen him since.

An intriguing addition to Latin jazz literature is being undertaken right here in New York by Dr. Gabriel Alegria, Professor of music at New York University and trumpeter/ leader of the Afro-Peruvian Sextet. Thanks to veteran jazz publicist Terri Hinte, I just gave a listen to the group's forthcoming Ciudad De Los Reyes (City of Lost Kings) (Saponegro, 2013), due out February 12. Dance-derived Afro-Peruvian rhythms known as festejo, lando, tondero, valse and zamacueca, all rooted in 12/8 time, are employed. The CD once again underscores the titanic importance of African polyrhythms in the world's music, where virtually infinite combinations of syncopation and instrumentation are possible. The Afro-Peruvian Sextet will appear at Zinc Bar on February 21.


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