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: “Cuequita Triste” – Patricia Zárate Pérez. From the album Violetas (2019)
Grammy Award winning bassist, John Patitucci, who wrote the liner notes for this album says: “Patricia Zárate Pérez has made a very beautiful personal statement with her debut recording, Violetas. The album is a very organic, creative and intimate window into her soul. One can hear the depth of emotion for her beloved Chile, her family, and the deep bond with her husband, Danilo Pérez, who produced this recording and played the piano so masterfully on it. Patricia’s soulful saxophone playing includes, among other elements, a unique blend of folk music from her homeland, Chile, which you can hear in the rhythm of the 6/8 piece, “Cuequita Triste.” You can also hear the sounds of bebop, late Coltrane, funk and rap.
Track 2: “Agua Africanas” – Alberto García. From the album Rajazz (2022)
Alberto García is a virtuoso percussionist who lives and works in Basel, Switzerland, but travels throughout Europe to perform with various formations, both on stage and in the studio. He composes, conducts and produces for his own projects: Alberto García Trío, 4 Esquinas, Alberto García and Tribal, and shares the international stage with Chico Freeman, Jeff Ballard, Guillermo Klein or Marc Turner and many more. Rajazz was recorded live with all the musicians playing in the same room, as it was done in the old days. It features Jeff Ballard on drums, Roberto Koch on bass, Oliver Pellet on guitar, César Correa on piano, Lou Lecadey & Raphael Rosse on trombones, Gerry López on sax and Daniel Somaroo on Fx.
Track 3: “Samba no Monte Fuji” – Itiberê Zwarg Orquestra Família do Japão
Itiberê Zwarg is an award-winning Brazilian bassist and the longest-serving member of Hermeto Pascoal’s ground-breaking ensemble ‘O Grupo’. Doing regular tours in Japan since 2016 with Hermeto Pascoal & Grupo, was the key that opened the Japanese doors to this project and music workshop. According to Itiberê “in the last tour, the producer offered me the possibility to do a concert at a big festival in Shizuoka and I saw the possibility to do the IOFJ (Itiberê Orquestra Família do Japão), with the proviso that I should be in Tokyo for a month before from the concert to the rehearsals. As soon as the producer gave me the green light, I started working on the arrangements and the result is there on this album.”
Track 4: “Guapanguito” – Rosino Serrano. From the Album Orquesta Moderna (2019)
Born in Madrid, Spain, Rosino Serrano has been part of the Mexican music scene since the early 1980s. In this country, Rosino has developed a prolific and versatile musical career for which he has garnered widespread recognition. Since 1997, Serrano has divided his professional life between Mexico, New York and Los Angeles. In Orquesta Moderna, his first solo album, Serrano brought together national jazz figures, such as pianist Álex Mercado, singer Iraida Noriega, double bass player Aarón Cruz and saxophonist Jako González, as well as international soloists Gianluca Littera, Italian harmonica player, and Justo Almario, Colombian saxophonist. Serrano was nominated for a Latin Grammy in the Best Arrangement category for “Guapanguito.”
Track 5: “Puerto Rican Beach” – José Valentino. From the Album Familia (2021)
A preeminent leader in music & media, television, global outreach & community development, and education industries, Dr. José Valentino Ruiz is a multi-hyphenate who holds the distinction of being an EMMY® and Latin GRAMMY® Award Winner, a Multi-Latin GRAMMY® Award Nominee, a 52-time DOWNBEAT® Music Award Winner (record holder), the AVA Digital® Award Winner (Gold Medal), a Sony Music recording artist and composer, and an internationally-acclaimed multi-instrumentalist and educator known for his passionate performances, versatility, and fluid expression on the flute, saxophone, bass, piano, and Latin percussion. Familia is “A Long-Awaited Dream Come True” that Valentino recorded with his father, Valentin Ruíz and his cousin, Raymond Rivera.
Track 6: “Anacahuita” – Joshy y Su Cu4tro. From the Album Metura (2020)
Joshy Melo is a dominican cuatro player, arranger and composer from Dominican Republic. In an interview conducted by Fernando Rodríguez de Mondesert (Jazz en Dominicana), Joshy says: “Metura is a journey through the compositions conceived during the first 5 years of existence by Joshy & his Cu4tro. These compositions were arranged for the record and we added a new composition -“Anacahuita”- which is the first cut on the album. Metura strolls through merengue, salve, pambiche, gaga, pri pri, mangulina, bachata, gagá, sarandunga, and other of our rhythms. Metura refers to the mixture of rhythms, which is precisely what this album is full of. We added the saxophone to some of the compositions, which adds a lot to the sound we are looking for and also some electronic elements with the talkbox.”
Track 7: “Descargando” – Roberto García y Su Latin Way. From the Album De Norte a Sur (2022)
Adaivis Marron Pérez, in an interview for La Jiribilla (Cuban Culture Magazine) tells us: Roberto García is one of those artists with whom you fall in love just listening to a few notes of his music. Member of various renowned groups in the country such as the Emiliano Salvador Orchestra, AfroCuba, the Buena Vista Social Club, among others, he is heir to an entire musical tradition. His father, a bongos player of the emblematic Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna, was one of his inspirations in the musical field. He grew up surrounded by good art and the result is this kind of combination between the technique of the academy and the fresh sounds of the street… After having accumulated experience in various musical groups, since 2019 he’s been the leader of his Latin Way group.
Track 8: “Chilingro” – Aníbal Rojas. From the Album Cachai (2020)
With Cachai, New York-based Chilean saxophonist Anibal Rojas presents his own sound; self-professed ‘immigrant music’ which fuses the rhythm drive of Latin with the soul of R&B and the creative freedom of contemporary jazz. Cachai is a little word with a lot of meaning. Literally, it means to trap or capture, and that’s what the Cachái project aims to do: capture an atmosphere, a vibe, a feeling. It’s also a Chilean slang for “you know what I mean?” Rojas has built a reputation as an in-demand East Coast sax player; his all-round musical force on display whether on tour with Blood, Sweat & Tears, on television with Kelly Clarkson or in the studio with Ralph Irizarry & Timbalaye.
Track 9: “Sonrisas” – Laura Lambuley feat. Edmar Castañeda. From the EP Mestizo (2020)
Laura Lambuley began formal piano studies in Colombia at a very young age, and later during her undergraduate studies in classical piano, she embarked on a phase of “joropo” music and piano that she named “Llano en blanco y negro.” In 2009, Laura moved to United States with her family to pursue her graduate studies in piano Jazz at Florida International University FIU, and during that time, she started Laura Lambuley Project, which fuses all of her experience with traditional Colombian and Venezuelan music, classical music, and Jazz. “Sonrisas” is a beautiful piece that features extraordinary harpist Edmar Castañeda, with whom Laura has shared stage.
Track 10: “El Cimarrón” – Hugo Cruz and Caminos. From the Album Punto de Partida (2022)
Hugo Cruz is an award winning, internationally renowned Cuban composer, drummer, and percussionist. He is the leader of Caminos, a band fusing the rhythms and melodies of Afro-Cuban, Cuban, and American music, in an original contemporary expression that honors traditional Cuban form. Their first album Punto de Partida (Point of Departure) presents eight original tracks featuring a line-up of notable musicians from Cuba and Pittsburgh. Punto de Partida combines rhythms and melodies representing genres of traditional Cuban and Afro Cuban music, son, chachachá, changüi, Latin jazz, bembè, comparsa, rumba, American jazz, rock, funk, and gospel.
Track 11: “Choro para Estudo” – Ludere feat. Gabriel Grossi. From the Album Baden Inédito (2020)
Ludere is the musical encounter of trumpet player Rubinho Antunes, pianist Philippe Baden Powell, bassist Bruno Barbosa and drummer Daniel de Paula. A dive into family archives rescued compositions and thematic fragments never recorded by the brilliant guitarist Baden Powell and resulted in Baden Inédito, Ludere’s fourth album. With this work, the quartet confirms the expectations created throughout their career about the way, at the same time calm and reverent, with which they interpret the work of Philippe Baden’s father, pianist of the quartet, honoring the samba-jazz school and the Afro-Brazilian lineage of Baden’s music with arrangements that sound extremely contemporary and universal. “Choro para Estudo” features Gabriel Grossi, who is considered one of the best Harmonicists in the world and one of the most important instrumentalists in Brazilian music.
Track 12: “Cuban Breeze” – Matt Dwonszyk. From the Album Wonderful World (2019)
Matt Dwonszyk is an accomplished bassist, composer, arranger and educator from Rocky Hill, CT. Throughout his career, Dwonszyk has performed and recorded with numerous contemporaries as well as legendary jazz artists including Steve Davis, Harold Mabern, Jazzmeia Horn, Bennie Wallace, Dr. Eddie Henderson, Herlin Riley among many others. On Wonderful World, his debut album, Dwonszyk has brought together a wealth of talent, which is predominantly made up of former classmates from the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz. We feature the track “Cuban Breeze,” whose title comes from the drink of the same name. It has a ‘Latin’ tinge, and a very open sounding melody and accompanying chordal structure.
Track 13: “Pedro Navaja” – Boca Livre, Rubén Blades. From the Album Parceiros (2022)
Boca Livre is a Brazilian MPB musical group whose first album was released independently in 1979. With its refined style, Boca Livre stands out for his compositions and also releases music by other composers. His instrumental arrangements, and especially the vocals are beyond conventional metric used by other groups, through the use of dissonant chords and vocal solos in the relays. Pasieros (Partners) is a recording made with legendary Panamanian salsa singer, songwriter Rubén Blades. In Pasieros some of Blades’ greatest hits are reinvented in outstanding carioca style. It’s an album that showcases Boca Livre’s magnificent harmonic voices, interpreting classics such as “Buscando Guayaba”, “Sin Tu Cariño”, “Juana Mayo” and the iconic “Pedro Navaja,” which we chose as the closing track for this playlist.
Featured photo: Patricia Zárate Pérez