Mark Weinstein’s Tales from the Earth (Otá Records, 2009) was his finest album until now. This recording, Latin Jazz Underground, also seemingly an oblique doffing of the hat to Herbie Mann’s own “Underground” recordings of 1969 and 1974, certainly has the most far-reaching impact of all of Mark Weinstein’s recordings. It is, at once a tribute to the revolutionary harmonics of the music of the 1960s and a departure from anything that Mr. Weinstein has ever played and recorded in his long and illustrious career. A famously dyed-in-the-wool flutist who indulges in the Latin-Jazz idiom, Mr. Weinstein has attempted to revolutionise the idiom he knows so well and loves with all of his heart. So that choosing a repertoire that includes Sam Rivers, Ornette Coleman and Andrew Hill, Mr. Weinstein not only doffs his proverbial hat to some of the greatest practitioners of music of the so-called avant-garde era. But while the compositions reflect the path that this music is going to take it is ultimately the ingenuity of the musicians led my Mr. Weinstein that has created a performance so utterly new and stimulating as this one on what is sure to become a historic date; one that is surely among the best of the year thus far.
Mark Weinstein is his usual self. He plays with unbridled genius even though he seems to be playing well within himself. Gone are the filigreed rushes of breath that once produced vaunted runs; these have been replaced with restrained and emphatic arpeggios that fulfil their purpose by placing emphasis on a particular passage in order to suggest ascension of the fabled steps to Valhalla. Mr. Weinstein’s choice of changes is remarkably poignant when he is playing concert and alto flutes and when he is playing the bass flute as in Andrew Hill’s lovely chart “For Emilio” he seems to dwell in the depths of the bass register swinging with almighty and gorgeous angular beauty. His lines are gently ruffled, undulating with ponderous erudition. On the flutes of a naturally higher register Mr. Weinstein flutters and flies in the face of conventionality. He twists and turns and ducks and weaves as he plays in swift, short and telling phrases that leap in beautiful parabolas and ellipses. Remarkably he is not alone in these elegant musical gymnastics. He is joined here by his long-time pianist, the remarkable Cuban-born Aruán Ortiz, the beautiful old-soul of a bassist, Rashaan Carter, and ingenious drummer Gerald Cleaver, and especially on this date, the Cuban griot, Román Diaz.
With a group such as this, Mr. Weinstein’s versions of these extraordinary songs take on dramatic, new meaning. “Gregorio’s Mood” is spectacularly moving. “Dance of the Triperdal” has become spectacular in an almost classicist manner. “Nature Boy,” played at a slower pace than any version that might have been recorded before has a stately effect on the mind’s mind, making that chart an almost mystical one. And so one, until the music comes to an end with “Mark’s Last Tune,” a short, yet memorable piece to end what seems like an all too short album in the broader scheme of things.
Track List: Gregorio’s Mood; Open or Close; Dance of the Triperdal; For Emilio; Tete’s Blues; Nature Boy; Mellifluous Cacophony; Mark’s Last Tune.
Personnel: Mark Weinstein: concert, alto and bass flutes; Aruán Ortiz: piano; Rashaan Carter: bass; Gerald Cleaver: drums; Román Diaz: percussion and voice.
Label: Zoho Music | Release date: April 2014
About Mark Weinstein
Flutist, composer and arranger, Mark Weinstein began his study of music at age six with piano lessons from the neighborhood teacher in Fort Green Projects in Brooklyn where he was raised. Between then and age 14 when he started to play trombone in Erasmus Hall High School, he tried clarinet and drums. Playing his first professional gig on trombone at 15, he added string bass, a common double in NYC at that time.
Mark learned to play Latin bass from Salsa bandleader Larry Harlow. He experimented playing trombone with Harlow’s band and three years later, along with Barry Rogers, formed Eddie Palmieri’s first trombone section, changing the sound of salsa forever. With his heart in jazz, Weinstein was a major contributor to the development of the salsa trombone playing and arranging. He extended jazz attitudes and techniques in his playing with salsa bands. His arrangements broadened the harmonic base of salsa while introducing folkloric elements for authenticity and depth. The only horn in a Latin jazz quintet led by Larry Harlow at the jam session band at Schenks Paramount Hotel in the Catskills, soloist and arranger with Charlie Palmieri in the first trumpet and trombone salsa band in NYC, arranger and featured soloist along with the great Cuban trumpet player Alfredo Chocolate Armenteros in Orchestra Harlow, and with the Panamanian giant Victer Paz in the La Playa Sextet, and with the Alegre All Stars, Mark’s playing and arranging was a major influence on Salsa trombone and brass writing in the 60s and 70s.
In the early 1970?s Mark took time off from music to earn a Ph.D in Philosophy with a specialization in mathematical logic. He became a college professor and remains so until this day. When he returned to the music scene in 1978 playing the flute, he wrote produced and recorded the Orisha Suites with singer Olympia Alfara, the great Colombian jazz pianist Eddy Martinez and percussionists Steve Berrios, Julito Collazo, Papaito and Papiro along with an Afro-Cuban chorus. Unreleased until recently, music from the Orisha Suites became the theme for Roger Dawson’s Sunday Salsa Show on WRVR. Because of limited distribution and more demand that albums available, Mark rerecorded the material from the original Cuban Roots with new arrangements and the help of such giants of Cuban music as pianist Omar Sosa, percussionists Francisco Aquabella, Lazaro Galarraga, John Santos, Jose De Leon, and Nengue Hernandez. It was co-produced with his nephew, trombonist, violinist and arranger Dan Weinstein for Michael McFadin and CuBop Records.
In 2002 Mark had the incredible opportunity to go to Kiev, Ukraine, where his father was born, to record the music of the Ukrainian composer Alexey Kharchenko. Milling Time, the record that they made, stretched his playing in a number of directions, from modern classical music to smooth jazz to Ukrainian folk music. He continued his exploration of his roots with a jazz album of Jewish music with Mike Richmond on bass, Brad Shepik on guitar and Jamey Haddad on drums and percussion. He then turned to Brazil and the music of Hermeto Pascoal’s Calendario do Som, entitled Tudo de Bom with guitarist and vocalist Richard Boukas, Nilson Matta on bass, Paulo Braga on drums and Vanderlei Pereira on percussion.
In 2005 he began his ongoing association with Jazzheads record recording another version of Cuban Roots called Algo Más, with Jean Paul Bourelly playing electric guitar, Santi Debriano on bass, Thelonious Monk award winning percussionist and vocalist Pedrito Martinez, as well as Nani Santiago, Gene Golden and Skip Burney on congas and batá drums. His next release on Jazzheads was O Nosso Amor with Brazilian jazz masters Romero Lubambo, Nilson Matta and Paulo Braga along with percussionists Guilherme Franco and Jorge Silva. This was followed by Con Alma, a Latin Jazz album featuring Mark Levine on piano, Santi Debriano on bass, Pedrito Martinez playing conga and drummer Mauricio Hererra. Next a straight-ahead album, Straight No Chaser, with guitarist Dave Stryker, bassist Ron Howard and Victor Lewis on drums. A return to Brazilian music, Lua e Sol, saw Romero Lubambo and Nilson Mata joined by award winning percussionist Cyro Baptista.
Mark took time out from Jazzheads to record an album for Otá records in Berlin with Grammy nominated pianist Omar Sosa playing vibes, marimbas and piano along with Ali Keita on balafon, Mathais Ogbukoa and Aho Luc Nicaise on African percussion, bassist Stanislou Michalou and Marque Gilmore on drums. Back to Jazzheads, Mark recorded Timbasa with the percussion team of Pedrito Martinez and Mauricio Hererra, joined by Ramon Diaz with the young giants Axel Laugart on piano and bassist Panagiotis Andreou. This was followed by Jazz Brasil with NEH Jazzmaster Kenny Barron on piano along with Nilson Matta and drummer Marcello Pellitteri. His most recent album, El Cumbanchero was recorded with a string ensemble and arranged by Cuban piano virtuoso Aruán Ortiz, along with Yunior Terry on bass and percussionists Mauricio Herrera and Yusnier Bustamante.
Next up is an album of tangos with GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY nominee, bassist Pablo Aslan, and featuring Latin GRAMMY winner Raul Jaurena playing the bandoneon, pianist Abel Rongatoni and guitarist Francisco Navarro. And many more surprises to come.