Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Cubans are Coming!

Carlitos Del Puerto in Havana, 1990s
Yes, the Cubans are most certainly coming. Well, in some cases they came in droves while others just stopped in for a visit. But SFJAZZ has had the good fortune to present some of the most important artists over the past 30 years - from living legends to young lions, and this week is a wonderful example.

This Wednesday October 31st (7-9pm at the Jewish Community Center in SF, 3200 California St) we close out our fabulous Discover Jazz series on Cuban jazz by celebrating the Young Lions, in particular those who have flourished beyond the confines of traditional dance music and embraced the diverse worlds of jazz, rock and beyond. Joining me as my very special guests are two of the island's most talented and prolific artists: bassist Carlitos Del Puerto and drummer Jimmy Branly.

I had the amazing fortune to meet both of these artists in Havana when they were fresh out of the School of the Arts, and over the years I have witnessed their respective transformations as they blossomed into two of the finest musicians I have ever known. Jimmy first caught my attention when I was covering a piece for Modern Drummer Magazine on the phenomenon of Cuban drummers, and once he moved to California he quickly became one of the most in-demand session drummers and recording engineers in addition to touring with everyone from Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Chucho Valdés to Doc Severinsen, Flora Purim and Airto Moreira. I have been blessed to work with him over the years and can honestly say he is one of the most genuine and musical beings on the planet!
Jimmy Branly in San Francisco

Cuban musical legacy can often be summed up in one word: FAMILY. Carlitos del Puerto is the son of legendary Irakere bassist Carlos del Puerto, fully embracing a chameleon-like persona through his mastery of both acoustic and electric bass as well as myriad musical genres. From touring with Bruce Springsteen and Chris Botti to rocker Steve Lukather and Brazilian legend Sergio Mendes, Carlitos has maintained a relentless pace since moving to California. I fondly recall his 1993 graduation recital, where he was accompanied by every major Cuban pianist, including Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Chucho Valdés and Frank Emilio Flynn!

Jimmy, Rebeca and Carlitos at Fantasy Studios in 2012
For our final Discover Jazz class on Halloween night, we will explore the extraordinary cultivation of Cuban musicians through the national art schools, as well as the exodus of hundreds of musicians to foreign shores. While jazz had once been a core component of pre-revolutionary Cuba, the challenges facing the new generation would initially place jazz at odds with the ideals (and ideology) of the Revolution, and it would take several decades before this music could be shared and enjoyed openly. The current crop of music students on the island will now have an extraordinary opportunity to study our music alongside the classical cannon as well as the wealth of Cuba's popular and folkloric traditions. We hope you will join me and my musical guests as we look to the bright future of Cuban jazz! Click here for tickets and info.

And on a more traditional note, we are thrilled to welcome an institution of Cuban music: the legendary Orquesta Aragón! Appearing in concert for SFJAZZ on Sunday November 4th at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, the celebrated charanga orchestra has been at the helm of popular music since its founding in 1939, perfecting the art of the cha-cha-chá and preserving the classic sounds of pre-revolutionary Cuba. Please click here for tickets and info. Also, musicians will not want to miss our hands-on master class with the band co-presented with the Jazzschool in Berkeley on Saturday November 3rd at 3:30. Please click here for more info.
-- Rebeca

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