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Tag: Luisito Quintero

An Upbeat New Album and a Loisaida Release Show by the Spanish Harlem Orchestra

One auspicious development here in New York is that we are seeing several groups whose performances were banned during the 2020-21 lockdown beginning to reemerge. Before March of 2020, the Spanish Harlem Orchestra were leaders in keeping the flame of oldschool salsa dura alive, while adding their own brassy spin on a sound that in many ways defined this city for so long. Even better, they have a brand new album, Imágenes Latinas – streaming at Spotify – and a record release show this May 20 at 7:30 PM at Drom. Adv tix are $30, which is five bucks less, in a more salsa-centric space, than their previous release show at the old Jazz Standard several blocks to the north.

All the singers – Marco Bermudez, Carlos Cascante and Jeremy Bosch – kick in right off the bat on the first number, Llego La Hispanica,,over the blaze of trumpeters Maneco Ruiz and Alex Norris, and trombonists Doug Beavers and Juan Gabriel Lakunza. Mitch Frohman’s baritone sax smokes in the background, bolstered by bassist Jerry Madera as bandleader Oscar Hernandez’s piano tumbles elegantly. The percussionists – timbalero Luisito Quintero, conguero George Delgado and bongo player Jorge Gonzalez – are slinky and pretty chill on this one, but they will all cut loose later on.

The album’s title track, a shout-out to immigrant determination, gets a deliciously spare, noir-tinged intro before the brass blasts in. Bosch contributes the cheery, undulating Vestido de Flores. After that, their catchy take of De Mi Para Ti makes a good segue, echoing Manny Oquendo and Conjunto Libre, a persistent influence throughout the record.

Romance Divino, a Hernandez original, has a more pop-oriented 80s salsa romantica vibe but with a classic-style arrangement. A steady, salsafied take of the bolero Como Te Amo makes another good segue, with a tastily shifting brass chart.

Frohman opens Hernández’s Mambo 2021 with a blithe flute solo, then switches back to baritone and completely flips the script, followed eventually by a tantalizingly brief timbale solo from Quintero. Sentimiento y Son has a rustic bomba rhythm but also the sophistication of the group’s home turf.

Likewise, Cuando La Hispanica Toca is an update on a smoky, vintage Machito cha-cha sound. The group slow down a little for the plush, balmy but moodily modal clave ballad Mi Amor Sincero and stay on that tip to close the album with La Musica Latina. We took this group for granted for so long: good to have them back.

A Richly Chiming Lincoln Center Debut by Fado Guitarist Marta Pereira da Costa

Even though Portuguese fado music typically deals with intense emotions, there was a special edge in guitarist Marta Pereira da Costa’s playing in her Lincoln Center debut last night. Often when she’d reach the end of a phrase, there would be more of a defiant clang than a chime in her intricate, incisive phrasing, as she fingerpicked her acoustic Portuguese twelve-string model. And she’s funny, and kind of badass: she knew she owned the crowd, and she didn’t try to hide it. In the world of fado, she’s a rarity, as a woman instrumentalist, composer and bandleader: could it be that she’s had to be better than the guys in order to earn the respect she deserves?

A common perception around the globe is that American audiences’ taste in music matches their taste in food: bland and boring. So it’s no surprise that so many state-sponsored tours by acts from outside the country don’t take any chances, or deliberately water down indigenous sounds which are far more interesting on their home turf. Last night’s concert, part of the ongoing fado festival around town, was a welcome exception. As is Jordana Leigh, the Lincoln Center impresario who programmed the show: “New York being an international city, we can’t imagine not putting on international shows that celebrate the diversity of our culture,” she reminded the sold-out audience.

Backed by an elegant quartet of António Pinto on acoustic guitar, Miguel Amado on bass, André Sousa Machado on drums and accordionist Alexandre Diniz, who doubled on piano, Da Costa didn’t limit herself to the plaintive strains of fado, either. One of the night’s most gripping numbers was a moody bolero over a syncopated clave; another was a flamenco-tinged tune, rising and falling with fiery flares, toward the end of the set.

Beyond the lattice of guitars, there wasn’t a lot of interplay or soloing from the rest of the band, other than an unexpected blunderbuss drum break and a more jazz-tinged solo from the piano. Which makes sense: fado is typically vocal music, so that left Da Costa to carry the moody, minor-key melody lines of these songs without words.

In the beginning of the set, she did that with an effortless precision, often with her eyes closed, through elegant single-note patterns, flinging chordlets into the air with the occasional, breathtaking crescendo and a precision so unwavering that it sounded like she was tremolopicking. As the show went on, the songs took on more of a careening edge. Minha Alma, the first song she ever wrote, had more of a pervasive, resonant angst than mere heartbreak. Song number two in her original catalog had more of a jaunty Django strut.

Along with a couple of lingering, resigned traditional fado ballads, Da Costa also introduced a couple of brand-new songs. Memories, inspired by the loss of her grandmother, had a wistful solo intro, Pinto and then the rest of the band joining in a gentle, fond ballad whose distant sense of loss transcended words. From there they picked up with a racewalking minor-key theme fueled by biting volleys of sixteenth notes.

For those who missed it, Da Costa is at Drom tonight, March 15 at 7:15 sharp for $15. There’s another free show tonight at 7:30 at the atrium space at Lincoln Center on Broadway just north of 62nd St., with oldschool salsa dura grooves from one of the style’s great percussionists, Luisito Quintero and his band. Get there early if you’re going. 

A Blue Note Stand and a Tour From Perennially Fiery Latin Jazz Icon Eddie Palmieri           

At this point in his career, latin jazz pianist Eddie Palmieri has nothing left to prove. Is he a NEA Jazz Master yet? If not, let’s get those wheels in motion before Trump and his minions get rid of the NEA altogether. In the meantime, Palmieri has just released a new album, Sabiduria (“wisdom” in Spanish), his first since 2006, streaming at Bandcamp. He’s celebrating that, and his eightieth birthday, with a week at the Blue Note leading a septet starting tonight, Oct 10 through the 15th, with sets at 8 and 10:30 PM. You can get in for thirty bucks – and if you’re not in New York, you can catch him on US tour right afterward if you’re in the right place.

The core of the band on the new album is Joe Locke on vibes, Luques Curtis on bass, Anthony Carrillo on bongos and cowbell, Little Johnny Rivero on congas and Luisito Quintero on timbales, with a long list of special guests – as usual, everybody wants to play with the guy.

It opens with the aptly titled Cuerdas Y Tumbao, a mighty largescale take on a classic, whirlingly celebratory charanga sound. After the string section develops some pretty otherworldly textures, there’s an Alfredo de la Fe violin solo and then a chuggingly energetic one that Palmieri builds to a pretty far-out interlude himself, grinningly half-masked behind the orchestra.

Palmieri famously wanted to be a percussionist but switched to the piano because the competition wasn’t so intense, and the rest is history. That backstory vividly informs Wise Bata Blues, with its punchy, tumbling rhythmic riffage and a similarly kinetic, dancing exchange of solos from trumpet and alto sax, the bandleader choosing his spots with a tongue-in-cheek suspense and a lefthand that hasn’t lost any power over the decades.

Marcus Miller’s snappy bass kicks off the album’s title track, a bizarrely catchy retro 70s mashup of latin soul and psychedelic rock, fueled by Ronnie Cuber’s deliciously acidic baritone sax and David Spinozza’s sunbaked guitar riffage over Palmieri’s dancing incisions. Then the band flips the script with the serpentine guaguanco groove of La Cancha, Locke’s wryly chosen spots contrasting with de la Fe’s stark, insistent solo as the charanga blaze caches fire.

Donald Harrison’s modal sax spirals uneasily in Augustine Parish, a bracingly salsafied blues, up to a hypnotic streetcorner interlude from the percussion crew. Then Palmieri goes solo with Life, a pensively energetic, neoromantically-tinged prelude. The group follows that with the slinky, noir-tinged Samba Do Suenho, Locke’s lingering lines contrasting with Palmieri’s gritty drive – it might be the album’s best track.

Spinal Volt rises from a balmy intro to a blaze of brass and and an energetic exchange of horn solos throughout the band. The Uprising switches back and forth between a casual vocal-and-percussion descarga and a mighty anthem that brings to mind McCoy Tyner’s 70s catalog, with dueling saxes to wind it up.

The steady, Monk-like Coast to Coast slowly brings the sun from behind the clouds, Palmieri and Harrison leading the charge down and then back from a trippy tropical bass-and-percussion break. Driven by Curtis and the bandleader’s relentless attack, the mighty blues shuffle Locked In is the album’s  hardest-hitting number. It winds up with the epic Jibarita Y Su Son, shifting from a  thicket of percussion to a classic salsa dura groove lit up with a fast-forward history of Afro-Cuban beats from the percussion. It’s inspiring to say the least to see a guy Palmieri’s age putting on as wild a party as this one with a group which also includes drummers Bernard “Pretty” Purdie and Obed Calvaire, percussionists Xavier Rivera, Iwao Sado and Camilo Molina, saxophonists Louis Fouché and Jeremy Powell, and trumpeters John Walsh and Jonathan Powell.