[Dixielandjazz] When Salsa Meets Jazz

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Mon Jun 27 06:11:29 PDT 2005

Perhaps there is renewed interest in a melding of OKOM and Latin rhythms?
Barbone Street has started to explore it in some venues. "St. Thomas" works
very well with a Dixieland line-up. VERY EXCITING and we get a great
audience response from Latinos, and Wasps (they visit the place) alike.

We are now looking forward to the next time we get a request for "In The
Mood" We think we'll play it as a Mambo with jazz improvisation, like Perez
Prado did 50 years ago. :-) VBG

Jazz = A Good Time. We are pushing both.

Steve Barbone

PS. How many of us realize that Afro Cuban Jazz superstar trumpeter Mario
Bauza got his start with . . . Chick Webb? Yep, he's on some of the sides
featuring Ella Fitzgerald as well.

JVC Jazz Festival Review | Eddie Palmieri, Ray Barretto

Back to the Time When Salsa Met Jazz, By JON PARELES, June 27, 2005

Clubs don't last forever, and regular club nights are even more ephemeral.
One glorious exception was the Salsa Meets Jazz series that ran for more
than 20 years of Monday nights at the Village Gate. At Salsa Meets Jazz, a
top salsa group would perform and, when everyone was revved up, a well-known
jazz musician would step up to improvise. Sometimes the jazz player soared
above the Latin beat; sometimes he was eaten alive. That concept was revived
for a JVC Jazz Festival show on Saturday night at Carnegie Hall with bands
led by the pianist Eddie Palmieri and the conga drummer Ray Barretto. Ronnie
Cuber, on baritone saxophone, and Randy Brecker, on trumpet, sat in with
both bands. 

Mr. Barretto played the Gate's last Salsa Meets Jazz show in 1993. A
pharmacy now occupies the site of the club, and salsa's dominance has been
overtaken by other styles. That hasn't reduced the vitality of music that
fused Afro-Cuban and Puerto Rican rhythms with big-band swing, hard bop and
1960's modal jazz. The Latin tinge has been part of jazz from the beginning,
and Salsa Meets Jazz simply underlined the connections that bandleaders like
Mr. Palmieri and Mr. Barretto were making. In the music, salsa wasn't
meeting jazz; they were already married.

At Carnegie Hall, Mr. Palmieri led his La Perfecta II. It revisits the songs
and sound of his groundbreaking 1960's group La Perfecta, which beefed up a
Cuban-style conjunto with brawny trombones and the brightness of a flute.
The set began with Mr. Palmieri alone, playing introspective chords that
cascaded into jazz arpeggios. Then the band kicked in, with Herman Olivera
singing 1960's hits like "Muñeca" and "Azucar Pa' Ti." Mr. Palmieri's
trumpeter, Brian Lynch, zoomed up to high notes and was so fleet and pointed
that Mr. Brecker, who's no slowpoke, chose to follow him with pithy trumpet
riffs instead. It was the kind of cutting-contest challenge that used to
happen regularly at Salsa Meets Jazz.

Mr. Barretto split his set. He started with a small group featuring Joe
Magnarelli on trumpet, bringing out the Latin undercurrents in modal jazz.
Mr. Barretto's role was not as featured musician but as organizer and
catalyst, meshing his congas with the rhythm section. Carnegie Hall's
acoustics made most of his playing a dim blur, but he sparked the group, and
Mr. Cuber and Mr. Brecker both raced nimbly to keep up. Next came Mr.
Barretto's salsa band featuring the singer Adalberto Santiago, who brought
his hearty vibrato to old hits like "Hipocresía y Falsedad." The horn
section punched out riffs and stacked up counterpoint, while Ricky
Gonzalez's piano solos let jazz harmonies ride the beat.

Classy as Carnegie Hall is, this was dance music in a room without a dance
floor and percussion-centered music in a room that mangles percussion. It
was the kind of concert that made a listener long for a club. 

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