513

Luis Mar

Javier AQ Ortiz By

Sign in to view read count
The labels placed upon a musician are not as important as his performances and musicality
In Puerto Rico, Luis Marín is one of the leading popular music and jazz pianists. Since early childhood, he has been performing in public, which eventually led to his involvement with some of the most significant artists in salsa and jazz. He has been a freelancer for a while now, as he is very much involved in the family business, which precludes the of way of life required for success as a bandleader. Nevertheless, Marín keeps himself rather busy throughout the island, as a performer under his own banner, as a studio cat, as well as an accompanist of an ever-growing roster of artists from various musical backgrounds.



We had the opportunity to briefly dialogue about his two recordings, Inconsolable and Live at the Nuyorican Café 2 . The former recording is a historical landmark inasmuch as it is the first jazz work solely inspired by the repertoire of a Puerto Rican popular singer. The latter is a gig that became a recording.



Although Marín wasn't trying to represent a singer's élan, personality and public personae through jazz -as his intentions were "to work with his repertoire"- Gilberto Monroig himself looms over the Inconsolable production. For the pianist, Monroig "was one of the first singers of the old school that I met at the outset of my professional career. I had known of his work through the late 70s and early 80s Artomax recordings and had the privilege of accompanying him several times as a member of the Mandy Vizoso orchestra. His borderline dramatic interpretations -without falling into cartoonish histrionics- his phrasing and the volume range of his voice -from whispers to loud voicings when deemed convenient- impressed me greatly."



Marín furthers his points on the singer's capacity to impact both audiences and musicians, while confessing his inability to explain Monroig's importance as an artist in technical terms, by acknowledging the need to "listen to him as, that way, his importance explains itself rather clearly." The romantic interpreter's "way of dressing, his behavior in front of an audience, as well as his overall artistic presentation, were the utmost expression of elegance," adds Marín. Since Monroig was an unabashed chain smoker, whose public personae would be inconceivable without its smoky surroundings -à la classic jazz photography of the 50s and 60s- I asked him where was the smoke in his Inconsolable project, whereupon he replied that "it is most likely in my composition entitled 'Estimado Gilberto'."



Moving on to his Live at the Nuyorican Café 2 release, Marín states, "the funniest thing that night was that, what was recorded, wasn't intended to become a recording. It was simply a test of new equipment purchased by the Nuyorican Café. That's why the recorded material doesn't have the time limitations of other recordings. We simply played as we usually do, with the liberties taken when performing in a club. It was two months later that Jefferson Braswell, the producer, showed me the recording and decided to release it to the market." The repertoire performed that night, however, can be readily traced to his first release as "it is, basically, an extension of Inconsolable because it takes songs from the Puerto Rican popular musical repertoire, treating it in the way jazz usually does by first stating the main melody and then improvising upon the harmonic changes of the main theme. There were no other pretensions upon the material and its treatment."



The enthusiasm of the audience that night is evident in the recording itself, as Marín adds that "in the case of Puerto Rico, I think it's important to reach the public with known material as a means to get their immediate attention, thus getting them to follow me throughout the entire interpretation." Since I was under the impression that on this occasion Marín was thinking more along the lines of a traditional jazz trio format -sans Latin percussion- I mentioned it to him, at which point he rejoined by stating that "I am of the opinion that there's already enough 'Latin jazz' -or however other way anyone might want to call it- in terms of emphasizing percussion in order for the music to rely on it. I try to use percussion, and Afro-Caribbean rhythms, as an additional resource, instead of being the foundation for the work that we do. It's true that the sound I seek is the one derived from traditional [jazz] trios, with the conga as a binding element for my Caribbean traditions."


Shop

More Articles

Read Jamil Sheriff: Helping shape a brave new jazz world Interviews Jamil Sheriff: Helping shape a brave new jazz world
by Rokas Kucinskas
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Tim Bowness: Ghost Lights and Life Sentences Interviews Tim Bowness: Ghost Lights and Life Sentences
by John Kelman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Laura Jurd: Big Footprints Interviews Laura Jurd: Big Footprints
by Ian Patterson
Published: February 16, 2017
Read Rick Mandyck: The Return From Now Interviews Rick Mandyck: The Return From Now
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 3, 2017
Read The Wee Trio: Full of Surprises Interviews The Wee Trio: Full of Surprises
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 27, 2017
Read "Joe Ascione and His Brave New World" Interviews Joe Ascione and His Brave New World
by Dr. Judith Schlesinger
Published: March 16, 2016
Read "Meet Kenny Garrett" Interviews Meet Kenny Garrett
by Craig Jolley
Published: October 9, 2016
Read "Walt Weiskopf: All About the Sound" Interviews Walt Weiskopf: All About the Sound
by Bob Kenselaar
Published: March 31, 2016
Read "Gideon King: New York and Music" Interviews Gideon King: New York and Music
by Sammy Stein
Published: April 24, 2016
Read "Laura Jurd: Big Footprints" Interviews Laura Jurd: Big Footprints
by Ian Patterson
Published: February 16, 2017
Read "Tony Monaco: Taking Jazz Organ to the Summit" Interviews Tony Monaco: Taking Jazz Organ to the Summit
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: August 31, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!