During my first of four sessions of “NYC: The Afro-Cuban Beat” at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, saxophonist and chekere player Yosvany Terry shared, among other things: secrets from his birthplace, Cuba’s Camagüey province; lessons from his father, Eladio “Don Pancho” Terry, a violinist and master of the chekeré; and new unreleased music from his innovative collective, Bohemian Trio.
If you missed all that, you’ll want to make it to the museum on Tuesday, October 18.
It will be an especially powerful session, thanks to the presence of pianist David Virelles and percussonist Román Díaz, two musicians who have invigorated the New York scene in several ways, including while playing together. The premise of my series is that Afro-Cuban traditions (not just rhythms, despite my title) have always coursed through New York City jazz; my “beat” covering that scene has revealed a recent flowering of that connection and its possibilities.
We’ll have discussion, recorded excerpts and live duo performance. Suggested $10 donation.
Here’s more on the program:
History, Mystery and Modernism: Pianist and composer David Virelles mines traditions of his native Santiago, Cuba, while using his current home in Brooklyn as a base for some of New York’s most striking and progressive music. Since coming to the U.S. in 1999, master percussionist, scholar and composer Román Díaz has been mentor to many musicians, key player in several ensembles, a spiritual guide to wide-ranging scene. Virelles and Díaz will discuss and demonstrate and discuss how musicology, mysticism and Cuban culture combine in their music.
I’ve written widely about both musicians. Here’s a blog piece on Díaz (which includes an embedded video from his Thursday night midnight rumba at Zinc Bar; and a Wall Street Journal profile of Virelles. Both articles out-of-date by now (these guys never stand still); we’ll be discussing what gave rise to thier music and how it continues to grow.
Here’s what’s coming up in the series in November:
The Conversation Continued: Grammy-winning pianist and bandleader Arturo O’Farrill reflects on: the journey of his father, composer Chico O’Farrill, from Cuba to Manhattan; his own journeys in reverse; the founding and development of his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra; the present diplomatic embrace between the U.S. and Cuba; and his dream of an expansive, borderless musical tradition.
New Yor-Uba, Then and Now: More than 30 years ago, pianist and composer Michele Rosewoman’s parallel paths—jazz and Afro-Cuban folklore—merged into a compelling whole in New York through her New Yor-Uba ensemble. Rosewoman will describe the awakening that led to that group, remember her studies with the late Orlando “Puntilla” Ríos, and explain the cross-generational way in which she has rekindled that group’s flame.
About that special offer:
The National Jazz Museum in Harlem invites you to its 2nd Annual Harlem Shout Fall Benefit Concert featuring Grammy nominated Cuban percussionist Pedrito Martinez his quartet at the historic Alhambra Ballroom in Harlem on Nov. 1.
Proceeds go towards supporting ongoing free Jazz for Curious Listeners programming and Born in Harlem education programs for Upper Manhattan schools.
I’ve written about Pedrito often. Of course, he’d be a great addition to my conversation series. Then again, he says it all with his drums, his chants and his band. Also, good as his band has been, I’m told that the wondeful Yunior Terry (brother of Yosvany) is now the group’s bassist; that news gives me chills.
While supplies last (as they say on TV), the Museum is offering 50% to Blu Notes readers at this link. See you there.
I’d not yet been to Minton’s, the new supper club that revives a storied Harlem name on 118th Street, until this week.
I can tell you that the cuisine, under the direction of executive chef Alexander Smalls, is both fine and creative. But a new series “Jazz at the Crossroads: The Dance of Eleggua,” which continues each Tuesday night through August, was the real lure for me.
This past Tuesday, alto saxophonist Yosvany Terry and his brother, bassist Yunior Terry, who were born in the town of Florida, in Cuba’s Camagüey province, and live in New York City, performed in a group that showcased their father, Eladio “Don Pancho” Terry. The elder Terry is a violinist the founder and director of the “Orquesta Maravillas de Florida,” an important band in the Cuban charanga style. He is, perhaps most notably, a master of the chekeré, the beaded gourd used for percussion; in his hands, it can direct a group with the authority and flair of drummer Roy Haynes’s trap set. The group at Minton’s performed a mixture of traditional charanga tunes and more modern jazz, some drawn from the books of Yosvany Terry’s brilliant and forward-leaning bands. Yet this was no survey or fusion; the set was an example of how Afro Latin music, grounded in traditional rhythms and flecked with modern jazz’s full stylistic palette, can flow pretty much wherever it wants without losing its spiritual heft and sense of musical purpose.
That’s what this new series is about, according to Dita Sullivan, whose recent credits along similar lines “New Dimensions in Jazz” and “A Cuban Drum Series,” both produced for Manhattan’s Jazz Standard. Continue reading “Dancing With Eleggua, Weekly, at Minton's in Harlem”
If it’s midnight on a Thursday in Manhattan, Román Díaz is holding court at the Zinc Bar in Greenwich Village. He’s playing bata and conga drums, chanting and singing, sometimes rising to dance. He’s making music and enacting rituals with old friends and new partners, inviting in ancient spirits as he lends new edge to New York’s scene.
The rumba is on.
Read my full piece about the wide-ranging influence of Díaz and his upcoming gigs here. Continue reading “Rumba with Román Díaz”