The Latin Side of Jazz is a curated playlist that showcases selected tracks from the best Latin jazz, Cuban, Brasilian, Ibero-American and Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latin jazz music. We include well-known, established artists and new artists who are getting attention and global recognition.
On this issue of The Latin Side of Jazz, which we now publish bi-weekly (instead of weekly), we’re providing more information about the artists featured and about their music. We also offer the playlist on both, Spotify and YouTube.
Track 1: “Babalú” – Daniela Padrón, Glenda Del E. From the album Ella (2022)
Released in 2022, this powerful project is a musical trip through seven Latin-American countries. Ella is the most recent record production by violinist Daniela Padrón and pianist Glenda del E, in which they pay homage to Latin American female composers. Together they make a musical journey through seven countries and perform, in the classic format of violin and piano, eleven works composed by Latin American women, some originally conceived instrumentally and others that break the scheme and adapt bolero, bambuco and even rock.-
Track 2: “Soul Souce” – Michael Carabello. From the EP Primitive Medicine Vol. 2 (2022)
Michael Carabello grew up playing the congas on the streets of San Francisco. If Michael hadn’t convinced his rather shy high school friend, Carlos Santana, to merge his blues-influenced guitar with conga drums, there wouldn’t be the Santana sound that remains internationally recognized today for its percussion and guitar work. On this track by Cal Tjader, Carabello (congas, vocals, hand claps, percussion) is joined by Karl Perazzo (timbales, vocals, hand claps, percussion), Roger Kimball (upright acoustic bass) and Erick Peralta (acoustic piano).
Track 3: “Tangerine” – Ilya Serov. From the album Back in Time (2018)
Award-winning trumpeter, singer, guitarist, band leader Ilya Serov has a passion for jazz that knows no bounds. A talented young musician with an old soul, Ilya brings an infusion of imagination, vision and energy to the many shades of America’s original musical art form. Possessing both chops and charisma, his live performances and recordings have attracted a solid following among jazz fans and seasoned musicians alike. On this track Serov is joined by master percussionist Poncho Sánchez.
Track 4: “Piece of Cake” – Michel Camilo. From the album Essence (2019)
In his own words, Piano Master Michel Camilo describes what this album is all about: “ESSENCE marks my 25th album. This milestone recording is a celebration of the flowing dynamic creativity and interactive energy between my rhythm section and top-notch horn section, as we explore together the challenging virtuoso passages and exciting unexpected turns on some of my most well-known jazz compositions. The exhilarating “ensemble tightness” captured on these superb performances has always been an important signature element of my musical stylings. Making this special project was BIG FUN and I am really thrilled to share it with all of you! Enjoy!”
Track 5: “Covid 19” – Daniel Vadillo. From the album Sin Lugar (2021)
Daniel Vadillo is a pianist and composer from Mexico City. He began his training during his childhood thanks to the influence of his grandfather, who was a piano teacher at the National Conservatory of Mexico. Daniel is multifaceted and his music is a mix between the colors of jazz strongly influenced by film music and his heritage of Latin rhythms. After studiying piano with various teachers, in 2009 he entered the Center for Research and Musical Studies (CIEM) thus beginning his formal academic training. In 2015 he moved to Rotterdam to study for a master’s degree in World Music at Codarts (Rotterdam Conservatory). On this track, Vadillo is joined by Aarón Cruz (double bass), Hiram Griss (drums) and Daniel Torres (vocals). It is a tribute to the Brazilian guitarist Yamandú Costa.
Track 6: “#CubanAmerican” – Martin Bejerano. From the album #CubanAmerican (2022)
Bejerano is a native of Miami, Florida, and has been active as a professional musician since the age of fifteen, when he began his performance career playing George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” concerto with the Mexican-American Bi-National Symphony while still in high school. This is Martin’s 4th album as a leader, which reunites him with his trio of 15 years, featuring Edward Pérez (bass), Ludwig Afonso (drums), plus special guests Latin Grammy nominated vocalist Roxana Amed and Latin Grammy Award winning percussionist Samuel Torres. Featuring his Chamber Music America commissioned suite #CubanAmerican Suite, other original compositions, and modern reworking of classic Latin American and American Jazz standards.
Track 7: “Alone Together” – Juan Carlos Quintero. From the album Table For Five! (2021)
An abounding reunion amongst Latin-Jazz luminaries, long-time music collaborators & friends embodied a gathering in the studio with a mission to record tracks for the long-awaited new JCQ album! Freely, the music menu flourished via newly crafted Latin-Jazz interpretations of classic titles from an international songbook. Notably, this route proved enviable as the quintet embarked on producing a fresh set of seamless arrangements while unveiling the spirit of genuine collaboration. Led by JCQ’s signature guitar voice, Table For Five! arrives intertwined with elegance & charm (feat. electric jazz guitar)!
Track 8: “Amigo del Sur” – Dantor (Daniel Torres). From the album Sinestesia (2019)
Sinestesia is a show of original music, a blend of atmospheres, rhythms, harmonies and improvisations, infused with elements of jazz, Latin American and vocal music (overtone singing). The group consists of Daniel Torres Araiza (guitar and composition), Aarón Cruz Bravo (bass), Daniel Vadillo Nájera (piano), Hiram Guzmán Gris (drums) and Israel Torres Araiza (violin). Dantor was founded in 2014 by Mexican guitarist, composer and music therapist Daniel Torres Araiza, who through this project has sought to showcase the importance of new Mexican instrumental creations and share them with audiences and other musicians across the globe.
Track 9: “Face to Face” – Patricio Bonilla. From the album Volando Bajito (2019)
This is the first solo production by the Dominican pianist and trombonist, arranger and composer Patricio Bonilla, and is made up of unreleased songs written by himself. Bonilla, who is part of Juan Luis Guerra’s group 4-40, demonstrates a style that mixes many of his influences, sounding like merengue, bachata, Afro-Cuban rhythms, blues but without detaching himself from jazz. Bonilla describes this album as the compilation of his first compositions, brought to orchestration and interpreted in Caribbean rhythms fused with blues. It consists of nine themes and includes danzón up to typical merengue, accompanied by playing and skill in the instruments that the talented musician has the ability to execute.
Track 10: “Conga de mis Recuerdos” – Pedro Pablo & Three Cuban Jazz. From the album Suena Cubano (2018)
Three Cuban Jazz is a project made up of three Cuban musicians consecrated in the international music scene: Eduardo Pineda, Pedro Pablo Rodríguez Mireles and Yelsy Heredia; that gives us a tour of different genres of Cuban music such as Changüí, Danzón, Latin Jazz, Bolero, Rumba. The combination of these three virtuosos of Cuban music and the exquisite selected repertoire gives color to a Cuban Jazz trio that maintains the sound and melodies of the 40s and 50s, transporting us through their music to that beautiful era that gave us so much musical wealth.
Track 11: “Moving Forward” – Dayramir González. From the album The Grand Concourse (2018)
Remarkably this is only the second album by Mr. González. His first album, Habana enTRANCe (Cinquillo, 2007) certainly announced the arrival of another master musician from the fertile musical topography of Cuba, which continues to suggest that it has an almost magical and mystical formula for creating pianists. Although he needed no introduction from older masters such as Chucho Valdés, he got one anyway. However with the explosive start to the album from “Gozando” and the nine other pieces that followed, Mr. González’s music spoke for itself and it seemed that not since Gonzalo Rubalcaba had Cuba produced an artist with such impressive credentials. The Grand Concourse is an enormous development.
Track 12: “Bossa for PK” – Doug MacDonald & The L.A. All-Star Octet. From the album Overtones (2022)
Overtones is a special release for it finds MacDonald leading an all-star band full of some of the top players based in the Los Angeles area. All are veterans with endless résumés including altoist Kim Richmond, tenor-saxophonist Rickey Woodard, trombonist Ira Nepus, pianist Bill Cunliffe, bassist Chuck Berghofer, drummer Roy McCurdy, and the relative newcomer (but quite experienced) trumpeter Aaron Janik. Each of the musicians is greatly in-demand but happy to perform the inventive compositions and arrangements of Doug MacDonald. Overtones is comprised of seven MacDonald originals plus the standard “Lover Man.” Whether leading trios, quartets, his earlier 13-piece ensemble The Jazz Coalition, or all-star combos such as the one on Overtones, Doug MacDonald can be relied upon to create memorable music that is infectious, joyful, and swinging.
Track 13: “La Puerta” – Alexa Tarantino. From the album Clarity (2020)
Woodwind virtuoso Alexa Tarantino moves straight forward with Clarity, on her second release for Posi-Tone. With an evocative display of talent over a wide range of instruments, Tarantino clearly demonstrates that her skills in songwriting and performance are elevating and shining steadily with bright moments. Tarantino is focused as a bandleader and relaxed as a soloist in front of the rhythm section of pianist Steven Feifke, bassist Joe Martin, and drummer Rudy Royston. With an engaging musical program presented by an amazing group of players, Tarantino’s latest album encourages jazz enthusiasts to experience the “Clarity” of her musical message with amazement and delight.
Featured photo: Daniela Padrón and Glenda Del E. From their album cover, Ella.