Jazz Caliente debuts this Thursday at 2pm on KPLU’s Mid Day Jazz. It’s a three-song set featuring Latin Jazz: the melodies and improvisation of jazz blended with Latin rhythms.
I’m convinced that the best music engages your brain as well as your body, and for me, Latin Jazz does just that. The intellectual and emotional components of jazz played over the irresistible dance rhythms of Cuba, South America and Puerto Rico is a winning combination.
I’ve always been fascinated by these sounds, and I’ve been lucky enough to learn about this music from a number of sources. My parents’ somewhat eclectic record collection included Bizet’s “Spanish” opera Carmen, the Steel Bands of Trinidad and Tobago, Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass, and Stan Kenton’s Cuban Fire.
My musical mentor Joe Freyre was a trumpeter, drummer, singer and bandleader who shared with me the music of his Puerto Rican ancestors. And my husband, drummer/percussionist Michael Slivka has worked with salsa bands made up of great musicians from all over Latin America. But it was discovering Dizzy Gillespie’s 1940s collaborations with Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo that really made an impression on me. In this all-too-short video, Dizzy explains how he and Chano Pozo came up with the composition Manteca:
How Jazz Caliente happened: After tossing the idea around for a while, we decided to send out a 3-minute demo of the music to our listeners and ask them if they’d like to hear a Latin Jazz feature on Mid Day Jazz.
The response was overwhelmingly positive.
I’ll also take the opportunity of this feature’s début to congratulate pianist, composer, arranger and bandleader Eddie Palmieri on being named a 2013 NEA Jazz Master, announced yesterday. I can’t think of anyone more deserving.