[Dixielandjazz] Lincoln Center jazz band in Cuba

Stephen G Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Thu Oct 7 06:37:07 PDT 2010

Jazz, people love it when they hear it. But what is this 13/8 stuff?  
Steve Barbone

Cuba Journal: A Taste of Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and More

Over the next few days, Victoria Burnett will be reporting for  
ArtsBeat on Jazz at Lincoln Center’s visit to Cuba.
HAVANA — The audience that streamed into Havana’s Mella Theater on  
Tuesday night, for the first of four concerts by the Jazz at Lincoln  
Center Orchestra, came to see what these musicians from El Yuma –  
Cuban parlance for America – had to offer.
And they loved what they heard. The band strode onto the stage to a  
standing ovation and for 90 minutes galloped through a program that  
ranged from tributes to Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie to a piece  
in 13/8 time by the saxophonist Ted Nash, inspired by Salvador Dalí.
“It was like, a whole history of jazz. Phenomenal,” said Doris  
Fernandez, a 26-year old percussionist who was in the audience. “It’s  
a kind of jazz we just don’t hear in Cuba – classic, but original.  
It’s a chance to learn.”
The audience chuckled at saxophonist Sherman Irby’s arrangement of  
“Baa Baa Blacksheep,” with its opening bars of bleating brass and  
gasped at the trombone section’s lightning precision in Duke  
Ellington’s “Braggin’ in Brass” – a piece that Wynton Marsalis told  
the audience the band likes to play “just because it’s so difficult.”
Another Ellington piece, the lyrical “Sunset and the Mockingbird,”  
provided a reflective moment: it was written in 1959, the year that  
Fidel Castro came to power and the United States began to turn its  
back on Cuba, stemming the rich flow of Afro-Cuban music that had so  
long nourished American jazz.

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