Essays

The Sound of Change (Carnival Center Jazz Program Essay)

In his essay “The Case for Contamination,” which appeared in the New York Times magazine in January, Ghanaian philosopher and Princeton professor Kwame Anthony Appiah addressed several issues surrounding globalization, including diversity, what he calls “cosmopolitanism,” and the often paradoxical notion of “purity” in culture. “Cultures are made of continuities and changes, and the identity …

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Eliseo Parra: Remaking the Past Into the Future (Artburst)

Hearing the beauty, the stories, and the possibilities hidden in an old, traditional song requires an unusual combination of qualities – imagination and a passion for your subject just for starters. Few have been better at it in Spain for the past three decades than singer, percussionist, composer, and folklorist Eliseo Parra, appearing with his septet at …

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No Mere Mambo King. Mario Bauzá Changed American Music

When back in the 1940s, trumpeter, saxophonist, and bandleader Mario Bauzá began to experiment with jazz melodies over Cuban rhythms he wasn’t out to invent anything. He was playing his life. He was also giving a sound to a profoundly American experience: the immigrant’s embrace of life in the new country while holding on to …

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More Than Skin Deep. Beneath Miami’s Neon Lights and Sun Drenched Days.

That the fourth ∗ annual Latin GRAMMY Awards are being celebrated in Miami has as much to do with music and business as with spirit. In a town where selling images is a core business, separating hype, wishful thinking and fact are never easy and Miami is young and brash and boastful. The irony is …

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Editor’s Letter: Rod Stewart Now Sings Jazz. Deal With It (JAZZIZ)

It’s been decades since jazz was led out of the Great Popular Music Paradise. And it still hurts. True, in that time it has also gained recognition in certain circles not just as a noble social product but also as a worthy aesthetic and intellectual interest. This has had obvious benefits — including university-level study …

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And Before That, There Was Mongo Santamaría … (downbeat column)

Master conguero, bandleader, and composer Ramón “Mongo” Santamaría died February 1st at Baptist Hospital in Miami. He had been in life support after a stroke. He was 85. A mailman in his youth in Havana, Cuba, Santamaría went on to become, for the next 60 years, one of the most influential musicians in Afro-Cuban music …

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Bernardo Bertolucci And The “Other” (Miami Herald)

In Besieged, the new film by Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci which closes the Miami Film Festival Sunday, a peculiar love story plays out over a profound cultural chasm. Jason Kinsky (David Thewlis), an English classical musician living in an old house in Rome, falls, hard, for Shandurai (Thandie Newton), his housekeeper, an African medical student, …

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Remembering Chico O’Farrill, The Man Who Put Latin Jazz in Black Tie (The Washington Post)

It was a brutally cold windy night last February in Manhattan, and as he bundled up to go out and conduct his big band at a local club, the great Cuban arranger, composer, and bandleader Arturo “Chico” O’Farrill looked alarmingly frail. A titan of Latin music for over five decades, he had been ill for …

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Guillermo Klein, Latin American Folklore and the Nuevo Jazz Latino (JazzTimes)

On a cold late winter afternoon, sitting at a table in an enclosed patio in his Buenos Aires home, Argentine pianist, composer, and bandleader Guillermo Klein takes another drag of his cigarette as he considers a question from his visitor. In his responses, like in his music, there seem to be no rote formulas, no …

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How about The Great Latin American Songbook? (JazzTimes column)

As singer Claudia Acuña launched into her first song at her concert at Festival Miami at the University of Miami, in Coral Gables, FL, a few weeks ago, her group´s swing, her own ease at coiling and releasing the melody, even her body language, all said jazz. But the words were in Spanish, and the …

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