Carlos Santana was born in Mexico and came to San Francisco as a teenager. In San Francisco, he was introduced to jazz, world, and folk music. Santana decided to become a full-time musician in 1966 and formed the Santana Blues Band with fellow street musicians keyboardist Gregg Rolie and bassist David Brown.
With its original blend of Latin-infused rock, jazz, blues, and African rhythms, the band, (which became known simply as Santana) gained a following in the San Francisco club scene. The band’s memorable performance at Woodstock in 1969 led to a recording contract with Columbia Records. Watch that performance below.
The band’s unique sound features Carlos’ melodic, blues-based guitar set against Latin percussion, such as timbales and congas. In 2003, Rolling Stone named Carlos Santana number 15 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.
Black Magic Woman
Oye Como Va
Samba Pa Ti
Celia Cruz, The Queen of Salsa, was born on this day, October 21st, in 1925. and was one of the most successful Salsa performers of the 20th century, with 23 gold albums. She’s also know as “La Guarachera de Cuba.”
“Cruz is indisputably the best known and most influential female figure in the history of Cuban music.” Celia Cobo, Billboard Magazine
Watch some of Celia’s performances below:
Desi Arnaz (Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III) was a Cuban-American musician, actor, and TV producer (Our Miss Brooks, The Andy Griffith Show, The Untouchables, and Star Trek).
He arrived in the U.S. in the 30’s, starred on Broadway and in movies, and played guitar in Xavier Cugat’s band. In the 40s, he formed his own Latin orchestra and launched the conga craze in America.
And in 1951, with his wife Lucille Ball and their show I Love Lucy, he played a fictional version of himself, Ricky Ricardo. On the show, he sang, dance, and played the conga drums and the guitar.
In Santiago, Chile (‘Tain’t Chilly at All)
Cuban Pete (with Lucy)
Chico (Artuto) O’Farrill, a composer, arranger, bandleader, and trumpeter, was one of the leaders in the emergence of Afro-Cuban Jazz in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He arrived in New York City from Cuba when Machito and Dizzy Gillespie were blending bebop and Cuban music. O’Farrill quickly became a key figure in the movement. He preferred jazz over the Cuban music he had experienced before arriving in the U.S. and exposure to the new sounds helped him shape his musical ideas.
He worked as an arranger with Benny Goodman, and also wrote the popular “Undercurrent Blues” for the band. He also worked with other arrangers including Quincy Jones.
His first major contribution to Afro-Cuban Jazz was a recording session for Machito in 1950. O’Farrill’s The Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite is regarded as an important transition in adapting Cuban music to a modern jazz big band. It featured Charlie Parker, Flip Phillips, and Buddy Rich. He described Afro-Cuban Jazz as “a very delicate marriage,” in which each aspect of the music had to be held in proper balance.
Chico’s Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite
As well as leading his own band, he composed The Manteca Suite for Dizzy Gillespie in 1955, expanding the trumpeter’s famous 1947 hit “Manteca.” O’Farrill also arranged for Stan Kenton and Stan Getz.
He left the USA in 1955. He returned to Cuba, then moved to Mexico in 1957, where he remained until 1965, recording and working with local bands. His compositions from this period include The Aztec Suite for trumpeter Art Farmer.
He reunited with Machito and Gillespie in 1975 for an album, Afro- Cuban Jazz Moods. In 1995, he wrote a commissioned piece for Lincoln Center, featuring Wynton Marsalis, and led his own big band in a weekly residence at NYC’s Birdland, with his son, pianist Arturo O’Farrill, who has taken over conducting the band.
Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra
In 2002, Arturo created The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra for Jazz at Lincoln Center. I went to see Arturo and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra last year at Birdland and I was very impressed. The band was comprised of both young and seasoned musicians. Arturo’s teenage sons are also quite talented and performed on one song a piece. Arturo has continued where his father left off. As an educator, he has certainly inspired many young musicians and turned them on to the music that perhaps their grandparents grew up with. His latest release Song For Chico won a Gammy for Best Latin Jazz Album in 2008.
Interview with Arturo O’Farrill
The Cuban musicians Mario Bauzá and Machito played a huge role in the history of Latin jazz. Machito’s bands of the 1940s, especially the Afro-Cubans, were among the first to fuse Afro-Cuban rhythms with jazz improvisation. Machito was the singer, conductor, and maraca player of the Afro-Cubans. Machito’s brother-in-law Mario Bauza was the musical director of the band.
(Francisco Raúl Gutiérrez Grillo) “Machito” and His Afro-Cubans
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, I will feature artists who pioneered Latin music and helped it flourish in the United States. Musicians from the Afro-Jazz, Salsa, and other forms of Latin-influenced music will be featured.
PBS is airing a four-part documentary entitled “Latin Music USA.” Watch parts of it here.
Michael Bublé, the Canadian crooner, returns with a new set of standards and modern songs, proving that he can handle both quite easily. Crazy Love also contains two new songs co-written by Bublé.
Crazy Love was co-produced by David Foster, the pop-producing master. While jazz enthusiasts might think working with a jazz producer who would opt for minimal arrangements to showcase Bublé’s voice might have been better, here, Foster was the right choice. After all, the 34-year-old Bublé wants to entice the adult contemporary audience as well as the pop one. Some of the jazz covers have a big band arrangement, which is actually a good thing, as popsters don’t have the patience for the quietness of jazz. A prime example is the first song “Cry Me A River,” with a dramatic opening and heavy musical arrangement. “Cry Me a River” needed a fresh rendition and this one is quite good.
The second and third tracks are standards that Billie Holiday and Ray Charles mastered, “All of Me” and “Georgia on My Mind” respectively. Here, “All of Me” is done quite well. While it’s hard to duplicate the song that Ray Charles made all his own, Bublé does pretty well. Perhaps a more elaborate arrangement would’ve made it stand out a bit more, or maybe not. The other standards, “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You” and “ Stardust,” receive traditional treatments on Crazy Love.
Bublé’s contemporary covers include songs from the rock, pop, and R&B genres. His rendition of Van Morrison’s 1970 “Crazy Love” is a good one since his voice is more soothing than Morrison’s. The R&B group Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings appear on “Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes).” Bublé and Jones play off each other quite nicely. Ron Sexsmith and Bublé’s voices blend nicely on the cover of Sexsmith’s “Whatever It Takes.” Billy Vera and the Beaters’ melancholy “At This Moment” gets a strong rendition from Bublé. It’s still sad and still gets you right in the heart. Finally, “Heartbreak Tonight” from The Eagles gets so jazzed up, that it took this listener a little while to figure it out. And in the end, didn’t find it as enjoyable as Bublé’s version of Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” on his debut.
The two original songs on Crazy Love are “Haven’t Met You Yet,” the first single, and “Hold On.” The first is too poppy and out of place in this album. The second is a sweet song and should probably have been the first single. It’s almost as nice as Buble’s “Home” from his second album It’s Time.
Crazy Love is another winning album for the smooth-singing and swinging Bublé. It’s another testimony to Michael Bublé’s ability to tackle different genres with ease. Fans will definitely fall in love with Crazy Love.
I recently met Paul Weinfield through a friend. Musically, he is Tam Lin, a New York City-based singer, songwriter, and guitarist who blends folk, rock, and soul music. His lyrics are philosophical, literary, and poetic, a nice escape from cheesy and pedestrian lyrics that pass for music these days. He is also a great live performer. I recently saw him play at The Bitter End in New York City and really enjoyed the show.
Our encounters were brief, but as a I am a music fanatic, I was excited about meeting someone whose music I enjoyed. I love to find out about new talents (at least new to me) and I wish I had more pull to help promote all the talented musicians I have met here in NYC. So, I write about them in my blog and hope my readers (ahem, that would be you) will check out their music and support them as I do.
Ship of Light is his newest composition. Check it out below:
Here are a few more Tam Lin tunes:
The Queen of Sheba
Soldier Called Uriah
Visit Tam Lin’s Web site for more on this artist: TamLinMusic
The third solo album from Josh Zuckerman Got Love? features 12 original songs and addresses the themes of love, personal freedom, and embracing differences. In this collection, Zuckerman mixes rock, country, and electronic, along with other genres.
The opener To Be Today starts with a carnival music rhythm, and sends the same message as Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” did: You can be an example to others by implementing changes in yourself first. The title track is hard-rocking and attempts to deliver the messages of not judging, not labeling, and accepting everyone’s differences. The song is catchy and the lyrics are strong but Zuckerman spits them out too quickly, so the message might not sink in. But still, it’s a strong first single for the album.
Let Love In is also a catchy song with a nice harmony. Our Wedding Song is a country music-tinged love anthem about a couple that has overcome obstacles and has made it through. Mother I is a tribute to Zuckerman’s mother, in which he thanks her for her love and support. It’s a good song but songs for mothers generally are a lot gentler. This ode to mom is just too rough for its tender purpose.
When We Dance and My Inspiration belong in the dance and electronic genres respectively, while Small Percentile has a heavy reggae influence. This final song has a positive tone with witty lyrics.
Got Love? is a good rock album with meaningful and positive lyrics. My concern is that it may be too much rock for the purpose of preaching, as Zuckerman seems to be doing. The music may overshadow the important messages Josh Zuckeman is trying to send out. But I hope it doesn’t.
Listen and watch for yourself: