Sunday, March 21, 2010

Buena Vista Social Club in Tabarka

This recording was a concert in Tunisia at the Tabarka International Jazz Festival in the summer of 2004. The lead guitarist is Eliades Ochos.

The Buena Vista Social Club was a members club in Havana, Cuba that held dances and musical activities, becoming a popular location for musicians to meet and play during the 1940s. In the 1990s, nearly 50 years after the club was closed, it inspired a recording made by Cuban musician Juan de Marcos González and American guitarist Ry Cooder with traditional Cuban musicians, some of whom were veterans who had performed at the club during the height of its popularity.

The recording, named Buena Vista Social Club after the Havana institution, became an international success, and the ensemble was encouraged to perform with a full line-up in Amsterdam in 1998. German director Wim Wenders captured the performance on film, followed by a second concert in Carnegie Hall, New York City for a documentary that included interviews with the musicians conducted in Havana. Wenders's film, also called Buena Vista Social Club, was released to critical acclaim, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary feature and winning numerous accolades including Best Documentary at the European Film Awards.

The success of both the album and film sparked a revival of international interest in traditional Cuban music and Latin American music in general. Some of the Cuban performers later released well-received solo albums and recorded collaborations with international stars from different musical genres.

The "Buena Vista Social Club" name became an umbrella term to describe these performances and releases, and has been likened to a brand label that encapsulates Cuba's "musical golden age" between the 1930s and 1950s.

The new success was fleeting for the most recognizable artists in the ensemble: Compay Segundo, Rubén González, and Ibrahim Ferrer, who died at the ages of ninety-five, eighty-four, and seventy-eight respectively; Segundo and González in 2003, then Ferrer in 2005.

video: Stephen Smith

Monday, March 8, 2010

Tabarka International Jazz Festival

Enrico Rava plays the Tabarka International Jazz Festival in the summer of 2004.

Enrico Rava is a prolific jazz trumpeter and arguably one of the best known Italian jazz musician. He originally played trombone, changing to the trumpet after hearing Miles Davis.

His first commercial work was as a member of Gato Barbieri's Italian quintet in the mid-1960s; in the late 1960s he was a member of Steve Lacy's group. In 1967 Rava moved to New York City. He has played with artists such as Carla Bley, Jeanne Lee, Paul Motian, Lee Konitz and Roswell Rudd. Chiefly an exponent of bebop jazz, Enrico Rava has also played successfully in avant-garde settings. His style may partly recall Kenny Wheeler's in its spareness and lightness of tone, albeit Rava's is harmonically simpler.

In the 1970s and 1980's he worked with Pat Metheny, Michel Petrucciani, John Abercrombie, Joe Henderson, Richard Galliano, Miroslav Vitouš, Andrea Centazzo, Joe Lovano, Gil Evans and Cecil Taylor.

With trumpeter Paolo Fresu, Rava recorded a series of four CDs on the influence of Bix Beiderbecke, Louis Armstrong, Chet Baker, and Miles Davis (Bix, Pop, Shades of Chet, Play Miles Davis). Also of note are his recordings Rava, L'Opera Va' and Carmen; his own interpretations of operatic arias and overtures. In 2001, he founded a new quintet with pianist Stefano Bollani, and toured with Gato Barbieri and Aldo Romano. In the trio Europeans he is working with German bass-player Eberhard Weber and Swiss percussionist Reto Weber.

video: Stephen Smith

Monday, March 1, 2010

Bill King plays at Beaches International Jazz Festival

Bob Dylan's 60's anthem Blowin' in the Wind is sung by Bill King the Artistic Director and Founder of the Beaches International Jazz Festival. Recorded in the summer of 2007 with Neil Chapman - guitar, Alex Dean - tenor sax, Mike Soloski - drums, Bobby Brough - tenor sax William Sperandi - trumpet, Howard Ayee - bass, Backup singers L. to R. Marissa Lindsay, Sophie Berkal-Sarbit Lauren Margison.

video: Stephen Smith