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Catch You on the Corner

I’ve been a jazz lover for quite some time now; nearly as long as I can remember. I’ve always liked jazz in one form or another, and I grew to love it as my palate for music matured throughout the years.

I was always fascinated by Jazz music, and although I loved R&B, pop, and even some rock and blues as a child (and still love it), it was jazz that I grew to revere. Straight Ahead jazz was not my first love in the genre, light jazz was. One of my earliest memories as a child was my then favorite song;

“A Taste of Honey” by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. I heard it on the radio, and I was hooked. I was born in Pittsburgh in 1958, and reared in the Hill District, and back then, WAMO was only an A.M. station (they actually did a remote broadcast from a little store on Webster around the corner from my house), and while Motown was the rave, Stax records, and Soul music was the background music for life in the ghetto (and I lived in the “ghetto”; the Hill District), jazz was a constant undercurrent, a heartbeat of the vibrant life of the slums in which I lived.

It’s funny now, but as a child I can remember going up to “Saint Richards” (later it became St. Benedict the Moor), Catholic Church on Bedford Avenue for their afterschool program. One of the first times I went there I heard some kids my age (around 6 or 7 years old), playing on an old piano that was in the gym. They were playing a bass line from a song I wasn’t familiar with, and I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever heard. Many years later, I would recognize it as the bass line from “Song for my Father” by Horace Silver (featuring a then 18-year-old drum phenom from Pittsburgh, Roger Humphries). Radio, and primarily TV also introduced me to various jazz artists and their music, but at that time my under-developed pallet couldn’t fully tolerate it, but the music stuck with me. The seed had been planted, and the soil was undeniably fertile.

I also remember overhearing snippets of grown folk conversation about jazz back on Junilla St where I lived. Folks talking about music and various artists in town. One summer day I heard 2 men talking while they were standing in the cobble-stoned street (with its 1½ foot curb) of the steep hill that I lived on. One man said to the other “you know, Jimmy Smith is coming to the Hurricane (a jazz bar on Webster Ave), this weekend”. At that time, I didn’t know who Jimmy Smith was (although I do recall that Jimmy would put out a “jazz” cover of various pop hits seemingly every week; he even did a cover of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”), but years later, he became one of my all-time favorite Jazz artists; right up there with Wes Montgomery, John Coltrane, Miles, and others. One of my greatest regrets in life is that I never got to hear any of them perform live, and I damn sure wouldn’t have been allowed to go see the Mr. Smith play on that warm summer’s day circa 1966.

Growing up there were a few stand out teachers in my grade schools, junior high, high school, and even the church I attended as a child, who fostered my love for music. I don’t know if anyone remembers, but R. L. Vann Elementary School on Watt Street (the school I attended), was known for the yearly elaborate “operettas” it used to produce back then, and in my 6th grade year at Fort Pitt Elementary, the music teacher (a black man who’s name I do not recall), put together a choir of us young students. We actually sang gospel music, and although I cannot prove it, I felt we sounded pretty good.

My junior high years were spent under Mrs. Voyvodich at Arsenal Middle School. She introduced me to the viola in her orchestra class (I still play a little; gotta blow the dust off that thing), and during my high school years I sat under Mr. Zoroscky in Peabody High School’s Orchestra class. There I was privileged to meet and perform with the likes of violinist Rodney McCoy, trumpeter Darryl Cogdell, and guitarist Kenny Karsh, three of the best musicians I have yet to meet, and there were others in that class who were just as good. But it was during my college years that I received my best education in the jazz genre. By then I had been introduced to the funk fusion of Grover Washington with his smash hit “Mr. Magic”, as jazz fusion was just beginning to take off. Radio played Kool and the Gang’s” Summer Madness; my cousins introduced me to Earth Wind and Fire’s “Power” on the “Last Days & Times album (still my favorite EWF album), featuring the Kalimba played by Mr. Maurice White, and the alto sax featuring Ronnie Laws. In college I heard the groove fusion of Bob James “Westchester Lady”. and the funky jazz fusion of Herbie Hancock’s iconic “Chameleon”. The funk, soul and fusion that I heard, whetted my appetite for a more sonically and conceptually, sophisticated sound, and my mind and soul was ready to forego drinking the milk of the softer styles of urban music, and to begin eating the meat of the mature complexity of the sound of straight ahead Jazz music (along with the heady music of the then burgeoning jazz fusion explosion).

As a freshman at Pitt, I was undecided concerning my major, and although I had an affinity for the sciences, I also loved music. I decided to explore a science major, and a music minor. I played a short stint with Pitt’s chamber orchestra, and enrolled in music theory class. I also quickly came to the realization that I needed a steady income to maintain any semblance of a free lifestyle, so I took a job cleaning floors at the Carnegie Museum and Library in Oakland. Shortly thereafter came the advent of the “Walkman”, and that was a game changer! You see, I worked the night shift, and to get me through the night and the early morning, I began to listen to WDUQ and WYEP radio with the professors of jazz Tony Mowod, (I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Frank Greenlee of WDUQ as well; more on him in a future article), and Buck Brice respectively. My third Professor of Jazz was an actual professor, and Jazz instrumentalist, Professor Dr. Nathan Davis. It was these three men who solidified my love for one of the great genres of music born in America; Jazz.

Since I can’t really recall the chronology of meeting or hearing these gentlemen, I’ll talk about them in alphabetical order. So, first off was Elliott “Buck” Brice. Buck Brice was a DJ at WYEP from 1970ish (even WYEP is not sure of his start date) – 1989. He died at the age of 61 shortly after his retirement that same year. He was born in Homestead, PA (an eastern suburb of Pittsburgh), and manned the early morning shift on WYEP radio. Buck was a veritable encyclopedia of jazz knowledge and history. He was as colorful speaker, and kept his show entertaining and educational. He had a vast knowledge of local and national jazz artists, and gave his audience the pleasure of hearing the music that he loved, as he wove stories of the history of various artists. And, he was very opinionated as far as stating what was “good”, and what was not concerning jazz. I once called him up with a request. I was 19 years old, mind you; I was learning the history of the music, and enjoying the daily history lessons. I asked Buck to play a song from Bobby McFerrin’s debut album. The song was actually written by Grady Tate; “Moondance”. It took Buck about a half of an hour to play the song, and when he finally did, he lead up to the song by stating that he had sampled the entire album, and that he disliked the album as a whole, and wasn’t impressed with Bobby, but he said that I had chosen the best song on the album. I laugh now, but it was a big compliment coming from that man, and I don’t think Bobby’s career suffered any from the slight.

As I stated previously, Buck Brice died in 1989; I plan on writing a more complete article about the man and his work in the near future.

Next, alphabetically comes Dr. Nathan Davis. I spent a much shorter time studying with Dr. Davis, but he left a long and profound effect on me, and my appreciation for jazz music. Dr. Davis taught at the University of Pittsburgh for 1969-2013. He was also an accomplished musician and talented saxophone player (as well as playing clarinet and flute). Dr. Davis was a warm approachable man, and his love for the music was only eclipsed by his love for the music student. I was really struck by that. Here was a man of great accomplishment, and renown, but his humility, and humanity towards the students was astounding. He taught with care and respect; respect for the student, the music, and the craft. I believe he taught me more by his character, then he could teach me about music, because my mind really had to stretch to comprehend all that I was learning; but his patience, humility, and sense of humor put all the students at ease (even this shy student). He was truly a great influence on me, and I owe him a debt of gratitude for the gift he gave me; a gift of lifelong love and appreciation for this great form of American urban music. Thankfully, Dr. Davis is still around; please forgive me for speaking of him in the past tense, as I am merely writing of my memories of that fun nostalgic era in my life.

Lastly, but not least, I have to tip my hat, and give me thanks to an icon of the Pittsburgh music scene. I cannot give this man enough accolades, he still inspires me due to his unending love for the music, and my hometown; that man is Mr., or should I say Professor Tony Mowod.

Prof Tony is a legend in Pittsburgh, and for good reason; Pittsburgh is his home, and his love for the town, and the music he brought to it made him a mainstay in the city, and in the hearts of jazz lovers here, and literally around the country. He manned the Night Shade mic; late night jazz, and at its height, his show was syndicated in over 60 markets. Although I can’t quite remember when Tony took the mic at WDUQ, I do remember listening to his show for many years. His smooth voice, and his knowledge and love for the music made listening to him easy, educational and enjoyable. Unfortunately, WDUQ was sold in 2011, and Tony has since left the air, but I, and many others owe a debt of thanks to the man for his stalwart work at the craft the he loved.

These men that I have described here are just a few influences that shaped my thoughts and feelings about music. There are many more people that will remain unnamed, but they are no less important. Family, friends, acquaintances, and people I’ll never know, or never meet. We all have diverse influences that go unnoticed but impact of lives, and loves nonetheless. Our world intertwines in ever increasingly complex ways. So, if you decide to read my column, first let me thank you, but secondly, know that these are just opinions, no better, and no worse than any others. The comment section will always be open, and I hope we can share information, and opinions in a respectful and beneficial manner for everyone.

My next post will be the initial installment of “Brian’s Corner”. You can find it right here on N-Motion Entertainment.com. I hope you join me there, and I also hope you will be entertained, enlightened, and maybe even educated to some small degree. Thanks for taking the time to read, and I’ll “Catch you on the Corner”.

I’d like to take the time to personally thank Mike Sauter, Program Director for WYEP Radio: 91.3 FM, for his contribution to this article. He provided me with background information about Buck Brice, and his tenure at WYEP.

All the music searches were done through nmojazz.com. The one stop shop for all your jazz music searches!

I’ve been a jazz lover for quite some time now; nearly as long as I can remember. I’ve always liked jazz in one form or another, and I grew to love it as my palate for music matured throughout the years. One of my earliest memories as a child was my then favorite song; “A Taste of Honey” by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. I heard it on the radio, and I was hooked. I was born in Pittsburgh in 1958, and reared in the Hill District, and back then, WAMO was only an A.M. station (they actually did a remote broadcast from a little store on Webster around the corner from my house), and while Motown was the rave, Stax records, and Soul music was the background music for life in the ghetto (and I lived in the “ghetto”; the Hill District), jazz was a constant undercurrent, a heartbeat of the vibrant life of the slums in which I lived. Until next time.... “Catch You on The Corner”!

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2 Comments

2 Comments

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Brian's Corner

Edmar Castaneda Jazz Angel of Columbia South American February 25, 2019

 

On February 2, 2019 the stage of Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild (Pittsburgh, PA), was graced with the duo of South American (Columbia), jazz virtuoso musicians Edmar Castaneda/ harp, and Grammy Award Winner Gregoire Maret /harmonica. The banality of the previous sentence cannot begin to convey the explosion of beautiful music these two exceptional musicians shared with a captivated and enchanted audience.

 

The sound that emanated from the electric harp of Edmar was at times ethereal and at other times just down to earth funky, and Gregoire’s harmonica expertly and fluidly accentuated the heights and fancies of the spirited and lively playing that Edmar’s fingertips produced. Edmar can make a harp sing, thump and cry. His emotional range on his instrument is just as wide as his virtuosity is high. He brings out sounds and music that you would never expect a harp to produce, and he emotes in such a marvelous fashion that he can make you feel what he is feeling as he plays. And just as great of a musician as Edmar is, Gregoire is his equal with his “ax” of choice, the harmonica.    The product of the two musicians was amazing beyond description, and after being blown away by their performance, I had to meet the two musicians in person and purchase

Edmar’s latest CD; Edmar Castaneda World Ensemble (Live at the Jazz standard).    Both men were very friendly and Edmar (in his ever preset Kangol style hat) was extremely engaging, and he also was pleased to know that they would be featured on my small corner. Gregoire, on the other hand, spoke very little English so we couldn’t communicate much (especially since my Spanish is probably much worse than his English), although he spoke volumes on stage with his harmonica.

Gregiori Maret

Since I only wore my music fan hat at the Guild concert that night, I did not take notes. At times a person must simply exist and enjoy the music, and that’s exactly what I did, but the album I purchased brought a small sampling of what I witnessed at the concert home with me. The album has only six songs on it, but those six songs are all lengthy (the average length is about 10 minutes), and those six pieces give you an inkling of what the live performance spectacularly delivered. By the way, Edmar is also an accomplished composer as well. Of the six songs, all but one (Carrao Carrao), were composed and arranged by Edmar, and the entire album was produced by him too!

The World Ensemble consisted of six other musicians besides Edmar and Gregoire: Marshall Gilkes/Trombone; Itai Kriss/Flute; Shlomi Cohen/Soprano Sax; Pablo Vergara/Piano; Rodrigo Villlon/Drums; and David Silliman/Percussion. There are also three “special guests” on the album; Andrea Tierra/vocals; Tamer Pinarbasi/Qanun (a middle eastern lute like instrument); and Sergio Krakowski/Pandero (a tambourine like instrument).

The first song on this colorful album is entitled Cuarto De Colores (Room of Colors). From the initial downbeat Edmar jumps in with both feet, or, as I should say, both hands. He pounds out the melody with a ferocious intensity that doesn’t let up for nearly the entire eleven minutes of the tune, and all the bassline you hear is played via the Edmar’s left hand on his harp. It’s startling how much sound and power he produces out of his instrument. When I first heard him play, I did not know what to expect. I had never seen an electric harp, and I anticipated the sound associated with the acoustic version of the instrument; well, I was wrong. Although the sound is very similar, the electric harp produces a harp sound that is on steroids! Its bold and vibrant in a way that is otherworldly. You just do not expect to hear what you’re hearing, and….its great!

Cuarto de Colores is a song that reeks of Columbia and the Latin flavored jazz of the region. The rhythm and flow of the music is indicative of the region from whence Edmar hails. The African influence is a huge part of the music just as the black people of South America make up a large part of the continent’s population. Their influence cannot be denied, but it is instead celebrated within the music, rhythm and dance of the Southern Hemisphere. South America is a large “room of colors” and every color of the heritage of the people of the region manifests itself in the music. This tune exhibits that reality in an energetically superb fashion.

The length of the song also allows space for the song to evolve and transform in complexity of sound and feel. The horn section has a meaty quality to it; they sound loud and large in unison, and as all the musicians are allowed their room to speak during this number, they each add their own flavor to the rhythmic soup, the result is a journey of grand proportions. Itai Kriss’ flute solo is creative and spontaneous. It is balanced and crisp and never becomes laborious. Itai seems to frolic through the measures as he tells his delightful story. He is followed by the virtuoso talent of Gregoire on the harmonica.

Edmar and the Harps!

Although for most Americans the harmonica may evoke thoughts of Stevie wonder or Toots Theilesmens (he of Sesame St. fame), or even Lee Oskar of the band WAR, but Gregoire has a style all his own. He plays in a style that is reminiscent of a guitar player. He approaches each note at times almost as if he were plucking a string. It’s a wonderful effect that adds to the complexity and timbre of the instrument. But he also allows the uniqueness of the harmonica’s qualities to shine through as well. He’s an amazing musician and fills the room with his soul and sound. Percussionist David Sillman exhibits his talents for a few bars, and then as the song winds down with each horn player improvising for a few bars and the song ends as abruptly as is began. This song is amazing from beginning to completion and it never leaves the listener fatigued (but I can’t say the same for any dancers who may try to keep up).

The third song on the CD is entitled Jesus De Nazareth. It’s a beautifully enchanting song that evokes a pacing quiet grace. Edmar is a religious man, and although not in overbearing fashion he does openly acknowledge his Christianity. This beautiful song emotes his faith in a way that words cannot. Its genesis is enigmatic as it quietly builds in dynamics, complexity and urgency. It continues its inexorable march and slowly grows into a heavenly melody of unearthly beauty. This is initially a solo number that displays a certain simplistic complexity that very few solo instruments can pull off; the harp is made for a tune like this.

As the song builds, the listener can hear all the intricacies of the harp. The bassline and melody seem nearly independent of one another; almost as if they were played on separate instruments. At almost exactly six minutes in, the entire band joins in to help tell the story. It’s the Gospel according to Castaneda, and although there are no written words, one can begin to understand what Edmar’s Savior means to him. We can also begin to gain some insight into Edmar’s quiet regal character the he publicly exhibits.

Adrea Tierra

Although not written by Edmar, Carrao Carrao, the fifth song of the CD is a beautiful number that I simply must talk about. A carrao is a beautiful wading bird indigenous to Florida and South America. The lovely voice of Adrea Tierra sings this song which also happens to be the only vocal number on this CD. The eerie beauty of this tune goes hand in hand with the beauty found on this CD itself, and it also lends itself to the beauty of Edmar’s craftmanship on the harp. Andrea sings with and insistent grace that draws you in even if you speak no Spanish. And one thing I found so remarkable is her ability to thrill the double “r” in the Spanish language. I, personally, have never heard anyone thrill those consonants to such an extent. The ability accentuates the beauty and mystery of the song. Andrea has an impeccable voice, with masterful command of her vocal cords, pitch and range. This song exudes mystery intertwined with the call of nature’s beauty. It’s a lovely interlude on an intensely rich album. A “must listen” for any music fan.

The last song on this CD is entitled Zamir Blues. This song is the funkiest tune on the disc. It has a cool steady groove and it keeps you rocking. The song begins with a funky bass intro that Edmar so expertly plays with his right hand on the bass strings of the harp, eventually he begins to explore the improvised melody of the intro with his left, his technique and musicianship as stellar as ever. After the brief solo intro, the percussion and drums set a smoking rhythm to accompany the harp, and usher in the entire band. Edmar continues the bass line which anchors the tune and the groove. After a few bars of nastiness, the entire ensemble enters in and the band erupts into the body of the song.

The World Ensemble.

The number has a familiar tone and quality to it, but the music is new and fresh. The song progresses and Gregoire begins to speak to the crowd with an inspired melodic funky and thoughtful harmonica voice which leaves the listener in awe while being completely entertained. The trombone of Gilkes speaks up next. He pours out his thoughtful sermon in a complete and satisfying fashion. Finally, Edmar enters in again with his solo, and you’re again amazed by the bass hand he displays, but there’s a reason for that too. You see, Edmar’s bass hero is Jaco Pastorius (Edmar even named a song after him), and Edmar has learned a thing or two about how the bass should be played by one of the best bassists ever.

This song has all the elements of a classic, and the one thought that I cannot shake as I contemplate America’s Black History month, and as I listen to not only this song, but the entire album, as well as jazz music from the four corners of the world is just how influential and ubiquitous American Jazz has become, and how it has shaped and defined modern musical language. Jazz is a language that brings people from diverse backgrounds and circumstances together. It’s America’s gift to the World’s musical conversation. A gift that was born in the rough fields of American slavery; a gift that was born out of the African rhythms of drumbeats heard on a distant continent, and a gift that was birthed out of the interpretation of a culture and a music that was foreign to and foisted upon unwilling subjects. This music is a bridge to all of mankind. It can be heard on every continent in the world, and it speaks a universal language that all can understand. Out of adversity emerges supreme beauty.

Well, once again I arrive at the end of another fun adventure. I must apologize for the, as of late, irregular postings. I am doing a lot of research and listening to various artists and I am trying to bring fresh and new (or, should I say, unfamiliar), artists to the conversation. I don’t want to become bored or sound stale as I do what I love, and this it to entertain (I hope) you. I hope to bring many new and extremely good local musicians to light, and (as I do not want to jump the gun and tip my hand), I hope to bring some exciting local musicians to the table, and also continue to write about established artists that I like as well.

Let me do my due diligence and state for the record that I do not own the rights to any music videos or images of artists that appear on this page or in this article. I refer to the “fair use” clause within the law to use this material.

I want to stir up interest, as well as give you a hint of things to come, by letting you know that N-Motion Entertainment will not only continue to bring stellar musicians to the Stage, but we will be doing some exciting work along the lines of some of the events we have done in the past. Tell you family and friends to stop by the “Corner” and read the articles, leave comments, make suggestions, and in the near future, you will be able to take advantage of special offers and discounts available only to readers of this article. We appreciate all of you, and I ‘d like to personally thank any and all of you for stopping by and checking things out.

Well, that’s all for now, and as always, next time “Catch You on the Corner”.

B. B. Suber

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Brian's Corner

Marcos Ariel / “Americas” January 29, 2019 A Taste of the Western Hemisphere

     

    Classically trained Brazilian smooth jazz pianist, multi-instrumentalist, and composer Marcos Ariel has dedicated himself professionally to his art since the mid 1970’s. This album’s release in 2017 demonstrates his masterful ability to not only craft great music, but to also deliver his product with remarkable charm and quiet grace. His music, based upon the “Carioca” style of play indigenous to musicians from his home town of Rio De Janeiro, is tinged with that subtleties of Latin American rhythms and an international timbre that defies categorization. Although much of the album information is difficult to find in North America, (as the album is currently only sold on MP3 format), I can tell you that the album features Jean-Pierre Zanella on saxophone; Paulino Trumpete (sic) on trumpet, and Lula Galvao on guitar. Marcos is responsible for nearly all (if not all), of the composing on the CD, and via his composition style he allots himself a comfortable amount of quiet space (between the notes) to his unhurried and thoughtful piano style. His superb music composition skills compliment his storyteller approach to music magically. He quietly weaves a tale that can be not only heard but felt too. With this album, aptly titled “Americas”, Marcos desired to meld the many influences of the music of the western hemisphere into a beautiful presentation of New World modern jazz, Latin America’s smooth funky rhythms, and smooth jazz to the global musical conversation. He succeeded in that quest epically.

      The first cut on the album is the title track Americas, and it exemplifies Marcos’ desire to meld the music of the two great continents of the Western Hemisphere. The song is smooth and mellow, and it demonstrates the varied influences that Marcos embraces. The steady Carioca undercurrent is intertwined with the smooth jazz groove of North America and the effect is that of pure delicate emotion. It’s a peaceful excursion that takes the listener on a gentle ride; the song seems to speak of the grandeur of the natural beauty that exists in the vast stretches of sparsely populated area of the land while also bringing to mind the people of the hemisphere who give their countries the diverse cultural differences of the various regions. It’s an exotic ride for not just the people to whom this land is foreign, but it’s just as exotic for those who live here too. Sometimes the familiar is too familiar and one loses the sense of awe that newcomers are so keenly aware of. Music like this makes even those who have been on this side of the ocean all their lives sit up and take notice of all there is to appreciate in the natural beauty of the landscape as well as the beauty of the people of which we are all a part of. It’s the freshness of the work that allows us to see this land as Marcos’ musical story telling describes it; a land of immense beauty and multiplied races of beautiful people. “Americas”, the common cradle of the music, the flora and fauna, and the listeners (at least those on this side of the Atlantic Ocean).

      Song two is a continuation of the beautifully mellow mood that Marcos has set in the first cut. The song titled After You Left is a relatively short piece, but its smooth and lovely as it brings about the calm cool ambience of sound and space; a space that is larger than the sum of the individual musical instruments parts being played. The song seems to lull your senses into a place that allows clarity of thought and the letting go of outside noise and clutter. Once again, the music brings the cultural vagaries of the many different nations into the music. It simmers like a slow stew of diverse ingredients on a warm kitchen stove. One can almost smell the delicious dinner being prepared for appreciative guests. The song is grounded by a strong yet subtle bass line (sorry, I could not discover the name of the player). The bass is a demonstration of the North American influence into the international jazz landscape, and although it carries the song, Marcos’ composition skills never allow it to overpower the number; it merely and gracefully augments the mood and character of this beautiful ballad. This song is superb in its simplicity and charm. Marcos’s years of playing and writing are on full display in the most understated and fascinating way imaginable.

    Copacabana Strut, the fourth number on this album, begins with a funky U. S. style bass run that eventually allows the song to morph into a smooth jazz basso-nova track that seems to dance along with the masterful rhythm section. The song combines Marcos’ piano with a smooth jazz organ, and they fill the melody with their cool interplay, all the while the bass keeps this high flying band firmly grounded as it weaves its dance beat into the fray. The smooth quartet of drums, bass, piano and organ form a tight grooving ensemble that cha-chas with the number being played. The piano seems to plead it case and it urges the listeners to get up on their feet. It’s a mellow number, but at the same time it begs the listener to dance; just like so much of the music of not only this region, but world music in general. That is the thing about music; it and dance go together like hand in glove and to ignore that reality takes away the humanity of it all. Dance cannot be ignored; our bodies just won’t allow it; and the music of the Americas screams this reality, even in a seemingly quiet tune such as this one.

    With track seven Marcos pay homage to his home town of Rio. The song is titled Ipanema Sunset. Ipanema is a southern neighborhood of Rio de Janiero. It’s now famous for the song “The Girl from Ipanema” of course, and this song is the offspring of the mood of that now famous place. The song begins with an almost sleepy trumpet intro which is immediately followed by a cool samba beat and the articulated playing of Marcos on the piano. Marcos’ playing is fantastic, and his play is bolstered by the fantastic play of the bassist (whomever he or she may be). The trumpet play of Pauliho is remarkable. It’s understated, but at the same time complex in tenor and feel. Marcos uses a simple solo to keep his story light and mobile. It’s not bogged down with heady articulation, but instead uses simplicity to tell its magical tale. This song is one of the highlights of a highlight filled CD. One can almost see and feel the sun setting on the ocean of the beautiful Ipanema beach as the twilight seems to invite an evening of fun and frivolity. It’s a nice getaway for any vacationer; a place where we’d all love to visit and would never want to leave. And, less I forget, one of the most indispensable and incredible aspects of this song is (as it is with most if not all of the music from this region), the percussion play. The percussionist is absolutely amazing. He (or she), keeps the beat in an interesting, fresh and hip moving fashion. The percussionist alone makes you want to dance. The song would not be what it is without that individual; remarkably stellar play by whomever that person may be (again, I apologize for the lack of information in this aspect).

    Song nine Canto Afro may well be the funkiest song on the entire CD. Marcos leads the band on the intro; a heralding three cord statement that sets the funky tone which resonates for the entire song. But it’s the sax that takes center stage on this one. At times the play is reminiscent of Coltrane, and at others its reminiscent of Grover or Eddie Baucus Jr. But whomever you want to compare it to the man is funky. The song is compelling and grooveful. It has an air of the heyday of the jazz fusion era; the late seventies or early eighties. It grooves from beginning to end, and the sax cries and at time screams its grooving voice. The feel and mood are accentuated by the soulful play of the bass and drums which not only ground the tune but keep the ball bouncing along. Although the song is less than four minutes long the players tell a complete story within the allotted time. When it ends you are not disappointed (although I’m sure this song is longer when played live because it grooves so hard), but instead you are satisfied because you have the complete meal; the entire course has been run, and the ending is simply the finish of something great, and you know there is more to follow.

    The last piece on the album is the bouncy tune titled Samba in Lapa. The organ is centerpiece on this dance cut. This song tidies up all the loose ends of the Americas with this album. It dances in harmony with all this album attempts to encompass; The feel is lovely and warm, and it urges all to give into the groove of the moment. The organ solo is masterful. The syncopation and counterpoint that the organist uses to drive the dance feel is breezy, light and it is relentless in it’s cry to bring all to the dance-floor. Rio is for vacationers and revelers, and this song exemplifies that characterization of the region. The song is a vacation that you never want to end, and alas, its only four minutes and sixteen seconds long. This song accentuates the concept of this entire album. It’s an excursion into the realm of the Western Hemisphere, particularly the South American region. The sound beacons us to explore and enjoy, if only for a few moments, the allure of the Americas; all of the Americas. It’s an excellently performed offering, and a great introduction to an amazing veteran jazz/smooth jazz artist.

    Well, before I get accused of being long-winded, I’d like to take this time to thank any and all of you for dropping by the Corner and checking us out. I appreciate your time and I hope I brought a little levity and fun into your day. I love checking out new and interesting artists, and I love sharing and writing about them with you even more. It really is a privilege and an honor. I also want to take this time to state that “I do not own the rights to any music or video that I have used in this article. I would refer anyone who is interested in my use thereof to the “Fair Use” clause of the law”.

    Now that that is out of the way, please feel free to leave us any feedback or comments in the space provided, and as things settle with the new site, we promise to get back to you. Also, please tell your family and friends about us. We’d love for them to join us here too, and if there are any albums, acts or bands you’d like us to check out, drop us a line in the comment section as well. And since I mentioned “video”, I’d like to share this link to a video of Marcos showing off his jazz chops while playing the famous song Girl From Ipanema. Yeah, the man can play straight jazz too!

You can find all of Marcos Ariel’s music on the NMoJazz search engine. 

    Well, that’s all for now. Thanks again for dropping by, and as always, next time “Catch You On The Corner”.

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