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Chick Corea and The Spanish Heart Band’s New Album

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Chick Corea, legendary pianist, keyboardist and composer, explores his Spanish, Latin and Flamenco influences with the debut album by his new Spanish Heart Band

Throughout his storied career, iconic pianist/keyboardist Chick Corea has explored a wealth of music from across borders both geographical and stylistic. Time and again over the decades he’s returned to what he calls his “Spanish Heart” – the Spanish, Latin and flamenco traditions that have indelibly shaped his unmistakable sound. Now, with his new album Antidote, recorded with his brand-new Spanish Heart Band, Corea once again delves deeply into the Latin side of his musical heritage with a stunning collection of musicians from Spain, Cuba, Venezuela and the U.S.

Corea’s debut release with the Spanish Heart Band revisits classic pieces from two of the bandleader’s most beloved albums, My Spanish Heart and Touchstone, along with new compositions and favorites by revered composers like Antônio Carlos Jobim, Paco de Lucía and Igor Stravinsky.

Already released on June 28, 2019 from Concord Jazz, Antidote is just that – a musical cure for a turbulent time, bringing together artists from diverse cultures to make harmonious music together. In addition to this stellar new ensemble, the recording features guest appearances by the acclaimed Panamanian vocalist Rubén Blades and gifted singers Gayle Moran Corea and Maria Bianca.

“My genetics are Italian,” Corea says, “but my heart is Spanish. I grew up with that music. This new band is a mix of all the wonderful and various aspects of my love and lifetime experience with these rhythms that have been such a big part of my musical heritage.”

To embark on this vibrant exploration, the 77-year-old keyboard virtuoso has assembled a brilliant eight-piece band: Flamenco guitarist Niño Josele and saxophonist/flutist Jorge Pardo both hail from Spain and have both worked with the late flamenco master Paco de Lucía. Bassist Carlitos Del Puerto was born in Havana, Cuba and played on Chinese Butterfly, Corea’s 2017 collaboration with legendary drummer Steve Gadd – as did Venezuelan percussionist Luisito Quintero.

Trumpeter Michael Rodriguez and trombonist Steve Davis form an unstoppable horn front line, while Marcus Gilmore follows in the footsteps of his grandfather, the great Roy Haynes, as a master drummer (and close collaborator with Corea). The band is augmented by the fiery footwork of rising star flamenco dancer Nino de los Reyes.

“Continuing along the lines of his landmark recordings, Touchstone and My Spanish Heart,” says John Burk, Concord Records President, “Chick applies his creative genius to further explorations of Spanish and Afro-Cuban styles with an exceptional cast of musicians, to produce some of the most thrilling, dynamic, and deeply musical work of his entire career.”

With a band of incredibly versatile musicians and his usual wide horizons, Corea composed a set of music that draws from a wealth of sources – jazz and Latin music, naturally, but also classical, funk and fusion elements. “This is the mixer,” he says, pointing to his head. “I drink in the culture around me, which is rich in ideas. I’m excited about this record because there are a lot of influences that come through in it.”

There has been a Latin tinge to Corea’s music almost as long as he’s been performing. His first gig upon arriving in New York City in 1960 was with the influential Cuban-born percussionist Mongo Santamaría at Birdland. As he recalls, “Four doors up from Birdland on Broadway was the Palladium, where you could hear people like Tito Puente, Machito, Ray Barretto, Eddie Palmieri. I used to jump out of my gig [during breaks] and go stand in front of the bandstand at the Palladium. So the jazz scene that I came up in was very much a part of what I call my ‘Spanish Heart.’”

Corea has made no secret for his love of Spanish, Latin and flamenco music. In 1972 he debuted perhaps his most well-known composition, “Spain,” inspired by Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez. The piece has been recorded countless times since, including versions by de Lucía and Tito Puente. In 1976 he released My Spanish Heart, an innovative session combining jazz fusion with traditional Latin music; it went on to become one of Corea’s most successful albums and is universally considered a classic. 16 years later, he visited similar terrain on the even more expansive Touchstone, which spotlights his collaboration with de Lucía.

Corea revisits songs from both classic albums on Antidote. The title song from My Spanish Heart opens with a lush, moving vocal choir recorded by Corea’s longtime musical and life partner, Gayle Moran Corea. Stark piano chords lead into the familiar song, rendered here with an emotionally stirring vocal by Rubén Blades. The band then breaks into the electrifying dance of “Armando’s Rhumba,” a song penned by Corea in tribute to his father from the same album.

From Touchstone, Corea first offers an atmospheric rendition of “Duende,” with an evocative palette featuring Pardo’s soaring flute and thrilling interplay between the eloquent horns of Davis and Rodriguez. Quintero’s percussion dialogues with the rapid-fire patter of Nino de los Reyes’ dancing feet to open “Yellow Nimbus,” originally written as a duet for Corea and de Lucía. Here the pianist’s flurries are joined by the flamenco master’s virtuosic protégé, Niño Josele.

De Lucía composed “Zyryab,” named for the Persian-African poet and musician from 9th-century Spain who was credited with introducing the lute to the Spanish court, destined to evolve into the flamenco guitar. Corea recorded the original version with the guitarist in 1990 and revisits its blend of Spanish and Middle Eastern influences in intriguing fashion here.

Another blend of disparate genres shines through on “Pas de Deux,” a piece from Stravinsky’s ballet “The Fairy’s Kiss.” Corea’s solo piano arrangement weaves into his original piece “Admiration,” celebrating the feeling the bandleader has towards not only his inspirations but the remarkable ensemble that navigate his tricky stylistic mergers. The final composition Corea chooses to explore is Jobim’s classic “Desafinado,” which features the soulful vocals of Maria Bianca relating the tale of a love affair gone slightly out of tune.

The album opens with the title track, “Antidote,” a heartfelt entreaty written by Corea for Blades. The pianist’s lyric is a mission statement, defying the divisive issues we face with the fact that, “Music, musicians and all artists are the antidote to man’s inhumanity to man.” The music on Antidote captures that feeling with healing camaraderie, with the added spirit that Corea embraces in his lyric for “My Spanish Heart.”

Track Listing:

  1. Antidote
  2. Duende
  3. The Yellow Nimbus – Part 1
  4. The Yellow Nimbus – Part 2
  5. Prelude to My Spanish Heart
  6. My Spanish Heart
  7. Armando’s Rhumba
  8. Desafinado
  9. Zyryab
  10. Pas De Deux
  11. Admiration

*Source: Concord Records

Latin Jazz Network is a project dedicated to the advancement of Latin jazz and its creators. Since 2000 LJN has been spreading the word about this wonderful music known under the umbrella term: LATIN JAZZ.

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Bobby Sanabria MULTIVERSE Big Band to release new recording: “Vox Humana”

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Drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, bandleader, educator, Bobby Sanabria
Drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, bandleader, educator, Bobby Sanabria

Celebrating 25 years! The multi-Grammy nominated Bobby Sanabria MULTIVERSE Big Band is set to release their new recording: “Vox Humana” featuring vocalists Janis Siegel, Antoinette Montague, Jennifer Jade Ledesna.

Recorded Live at Dizzy’s Club Cola in NYC
Release Date: Spring 2023
Record Label: Jazzheads

New York – January 18th – On the heels of their Grammy nominated and 2019 Jazz Journalists Association Album of the Year Award winning critically acclaimed masterwork, West Side Story Reimagined, and in celebration of their 25th anniversary – drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, bandleader, educator, Bobby Sanabria and his Multiverse Big Band return with their most ambitious work to date, VOX HUMANA.

Bobby states, “Over the course of our many Grammy nominated albums we’ve occasionally featured tracks with vocals. But I’ve always envisioned doing an entire vocal album framed by the Multiverse Big Band. Now with three of today’s greatest contemporary singing talents – multi-Grammy award winner Janis Siegel from the Manhattan Transfer, blues and jazz Queen Antoinette Montague, and the multilingual powerhouse, Jennifer Jade Ledesna, today that vision has finally become a reality.

The individually distinct voices that Janis, Antoinette, and Jennifer possess make them each unique. But the X factor they all have is they are all masterful improvisors in the best sense of the jazz tradition. Added to the mix is our great conguero, Oreste Abrantes, who also sings lead on two tracks. Having that multi- dimensional vocal talent framed by the power, nuance, and tonal variety that only a big band can provide, combined with the repertoire I’ve chosen to showcase them and the band and the incredible variety of Afro- Latin, straight ahead swing, funk, R&B, and rock rhythmic vocabulary that we are masters of and readily have at our disposal in the Multiverse, I believe VOX HUMANA will prove to be our greatest achievement. 

Bobby Sanabria MULTIVERSE Big Band: "Vox Humana"
Bobby Sanabria MULTIVERSE Big Band: “Vox Humana”

That repertoire has a personal meaning to me as I see VOX HUMANA as a biographical work. I’m a product of my environment. I’m a Nuyorican, a person of Puerto Rican descent growing up in New York City. In my case the South Bronx during a time period when pop, jazz, R&B, rock, funk, and Latin music of all kinds all co-existed as equals. It was the last era when the big bands of masters like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Buddy Rich, Machito, Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez, Don Ellis, and more were in the public eye, and they became my heroes. Vocalists who could deliver a message with subtlety, nuance, and when needed, power, were called upon to deliver poetry crafted by genius song writers. You’ll hear all that and more through the soaring vocals and improv talents of Janis, Antoinette, and Jennifer, along with Oreste, as well as the incredible jazz-oriented arrangements and exciting Pan Afro-Latin rhythms played by a big band that literally takes no prisoners when it hits the stage.”

The repertoire Bobby speaks of includes 1 original and 12 unique re-workings of pop hits like Spooky, Christine Aguilera’s Genie In a Bottle, and Steely Dan’s Do It Again; NEA Jazz Master Eddie Palmieri’s, Mi Congo and Puerto Rico along with the island’s greatest composer, Rafael Hernandez’s, Capullito De Aleli; the classic Joe Cuba R&B bolero, To Be With You; Brazilian standards Partido Alto and Amazonas; and from the world of Broadway theater, I Love You Porgy, and the iconic jump blues, Let The Good Times Roll. The CD also includes an original message bearing piece, Who Taught You That, as well as what may possibly be the most exciting interpretation of the Ellington associated classic, Caravan, and that has ever been recorded. 

Adding to the excitement of the performance, VOX HUMANA was recorded in front of a live audience. Bobby states, “As with our previous work, we recorded VOX HUMANA live at NYC’s Dizzy’s Club Coca – Cola. My musicians represent NYC’s finest. That means they’re the greatest in the world. The added level of excitement created by the audience inspired us in the MULTIVERSE Big Band to a heightened new level of performance virtuosity that listeners will hear explode out of the speakers just as the audience at Dizzy’s experienced in person.”

The history of the Bobby Sanabria MULTIVERSE Big Band is indeed one based on his rich multi-cultural heritage as a Nuyorican growing up in New York City’s South Bronx. His concept of having a big band that has no genre boundaries with limitless possibilities was forged 25 years ago back in 1998. It has yielded a series of groundbreaking, critically acclaimed albums that have all been Grammy-nominated with the band thrilling audiences worldwide at venues like the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, The Ravinia Festival, Verona Jazz Festival in Europe, and more.

Content Source: Two for the Show Media

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