With his Conjunto La Perfecta in peak form, Palmieri continued in the studio with the great Cal Tjader to follow up El Sonida Nuevo. This time the gloves are off with some serious cookers from both camps, notably the title track Bamboleate and Tjader’s Samba De Los Suenho. With bassist Bobby Rodriguez holding the groove and a sense of wild abandon in both the rhythm and the vocals, Bambeolate feels like a wild street party in a place you’d love to be. By bringing the best of Palmieri’s Salsa band and Tjader’s Latin Jazz sensibility, this album feels like a major crossover moment in the history of both, and one can imagine the sixties NYC crowd embracing it as they search for new sounds.
We are digging back into the incredible life of Eddie Palmieri as we prepare to release Mi Luz Mayor (tomorrow!). All along the way we find gems as Eddie progresses and continues to express fierce independence and musical curiosity, coupled with a steady desire to fuse elements of different cultures. In 1966 he released Mambo Con Conga Is Mozambique, bringing powerful Cuban Rhythms into the mix. According to Historia de la Salsa de Hiram Guadalupe Perez, some Cuban exiles opposed the album, as any warming of tension between the US and Cuba at the time was not acceptable to them. The album was supposedly listed as a ‘communist product’ by the US Government. Quite a distinction, and perhaps a precursor to social and political dialogue around his music.
Coming up next; more from Cal & Eddie and the progression towards Justicia.
If you’re just joining us we are celebrating Eddie Palmieri all week as we prepare for the release of Mi Luz Mayor, his second Salsa album of 2018.
Conjunto La Perfecta continued to ignite the Charanga dance craze on ballroom floors through the sixties, with extra trombone power and Palmieri’s signature fourth chord sound. Like so many bands of that time one can see the changes in photographs of the band members; slowly the traditional suits and clean cut hair gave way to a loose look and full experimentation and creativity were the norm. The great Cal Tjader saw the band in New York and soon he and Eddie were in Rudy Van Gelder’s studio to record El Sonido Nuevo (The New Sound). The results again changed the landscape of Latin music and Latin Jazz, fusing them and breaking them open at the same time. The pair drew on the Cuban Mozambique dance rhythm for certain tracks, and Eddie drew on both the Cuban influence of Machito and the big band style of Glenn Miller.
Next Up - More Mozambique…
As a young man Eddie Palmieri learned from his brother Charlie, accompanying him at talent contests and gigs. He studied piano, and soon his time would come to perform in the dance halls with the great Tito Rodriguez. It might seem as though he was ready to follow the scene, but soon his innate curiosity and fierce vision began to emerge. In 1961 Palmieri started his first band featuring Ismael Quintana on vocals - Conjunto La Perfecta - foreshadowing his life’s quest for musical perfection. With Charanga as the dance craze of the time, he flipped the big band lineup by replacing violins with trombones, creating one of, if not the most innovative groups of the time. On the liner notes to the debut album, Charlie Palmieri dubbed the style ‘Trombanga’. This subtle but powerful change led a whole new movement as other bandleaders adopted the new sound. And yet, this is just the start of Eddie Palmieri’s experimentation.
Up next, the blending of style gets deep…
EVERY DAY we are thankful that the great Eddie Palmieri has entrusted us with his recordings; albums that represent his continuous search for perfection in music. It began last year with the Latin Jazz classic Sabiduria, and continued in 2018 with Salsa albums Full Circle and Mi Luz Mayor. And so we salute Mr. Palmieri, with highlights from his career each day as we lead up to Friday’s release of Mi Luz Mayor. First, some history:
Born in 1936 in New York, Mr. Eddie Palmieri is a bandleader, arranger, and composer who has skillfully fused the rhythm of his Puerto Rican heritage with the complexity of his jazz influences. He gained international attention as a pianist in the 1950’s, playing with Eddie Forrester and the popular Tito Rodriguez Orchestra, among others. In 1961 he formed La Perfecta, featuring an unconventional front line of trombones that created a new sound, mixing American Jazz into Afro-Caribbean rhythms and leading to the trombone-heavy Salsa explosion in the 1970s.
Throughout the 60s and 70s Mr. Palmieri continued to surprise fans and critics with his unique sound – in 1970 he released the epic ‘Harlem River Drive’, merging Black and Latin music into a free-form sound that seamlessly blends elements of funk, soul, rock, salsa, and jazz. In 1975 Mr. Palmieri was awarded the very first Grammy for Best Latin Recording; this would be the first of ten Grammys over the next 30 years. His lyrics and arranging style have influenced countless musicians from a diverse array of settings, including Chick Corea, Ruben Blades, Willie Colon and the Fania All Stars, Christian McBride, and hip hop pioneer Bobbito Garcia.
It’s good to have a little fun ya know, and while we take the music seriously we were super excited for this record from Sasha Masakowski. Playful, eccentric, but with all the chops one would expect from a progressive Jazz musician, Sasha’s 2018 release Art Market brings a range of style with instant classics like ‘Juicy Booty Song’ and ‘Sister’, but it was her version of the New Orleans staple Jockamo that grabbed our attention. The song has a storied history, and Sasha re-imagines it from a woman’s perspective without losing the spirit. Dig in to Art Market right here.
Tommaso embodies the art form: gentle, flowing, dignified yet absolutely curious. A traveler with a message who is just as comfortable in his native Padova, Italy, as he is in a New York studio. A student of the drum and the rhythm, and a man who embraces technology as it applies to music. He came to Ropeadope via Mark de Clive-Lowe’s imprint Mashibeats, delivering his acclaimed debut album Aforemention, in 2016 and this year he reworked the project with remixes that developed through random encounters on his tour of the world. Nia Andrews, Natalie May, and more bring the album out of the studio and into the world in a soulful way. Drop in right here for both albums.
An interesting and subtle album of 2018 is this one from The Eric Binder Trio. His debut on Ropeadope caught some great attention from the Jazz community, and this year Eric returned with a tribute to Malcolm Cecil, with Cecil on the record! Malcolm Cecil played with greats in the UK - Ronnie Scott and The Jazz Five, Johnny Griffin, Stan Getz, and many more. But his career led him to a gig behind the console, as he became a skilled producer and engineer for artists including Stevie Wonder, Weather Report, The Isley Brothers and others too numerous to mention here. Eric Binder believes that Malcolm Cecil’s bass playing was overlooked as a result, and on The Malcolm Cecil Project he highlights just that. Rounding out the trio is NY tenor Joel Frahm, a perfect complement for the project. This is a classic Jazz project in the best way - the young gun paying tribute to the art, and a man who carried the art forward in the best way. Dig In.
Infinity Gritty delivered this one from Project K-Paz, the brainchild of Alvaro Kapaz and Pablo Eluchans. The trio is formed with the addition of Adam Ahuja, and their 2018 album Post-Something, brings purely improvisational music inspired by deep reflection on our times.
'We are in a controversial era, when the world seems easily polarized and tensions quickly rise. But the future lies in the hands of the new generations, who bring us hope of a reality that will build bonds out of bleak surroundings, turning our differences into strengths, and discover a new unity for our humanity. How we as humans choose to deal with sadness, loss, excitement, madness, joy, love.' (Project K-Paz)
Post-Something was recorded in one night with Infinity Gritty alum and general wizard of all recording things E. Scott Lindner.
Saxophonist Warren Walker and Guitarist Federico Casagrande are longtime friends in the Paris music scene and together they form OddAtlas along with drummer Caleb Dolister and bassist Sam Minaie from New York. The project began with the newly formed quartet locking themselves in a remote alpine studio during a frigid December week in Chamonix, France, 2016. They arrived at the studio with a few odd compositions, plugged in and started to create. Despite the cold air rushing down from Mont Blanc to still the town, the studio stayed warmed by hours of exploring their collective compositions.
OddAtlas’ self-titled album takes the listener through this process, and documents the seasoned and progressive Post-Jazz performers as they build their musical ideas and concepts while recording. Though their paths are clearly from different places, they managed to discover a cohesive energy, and a steady ambiance can be felt throughout the entire album as melodies evolve over playful and ever-changing contrasts. The album feels equally like a journey to unknown parts and the long road back home from them.
What happens when you put four badass musicians who have seen it all in a studio together? A blood sport of shredding, with all the players on the same team. And so it is that Mark Sherman, Mike Clark, Chase Baird, and Felix Pastorius became Venture. Like many great things it started spontaneously, with a casual statement after a gig, and once the gauntlet was down and it had to be done. The results are stunning, as these cats don’t play around. The young guns can bring the f word - fusion - to the game, but they need to heed those that lived it and still treat it like the absolute fun that it is. Take a ride with Venture today.
This is one of many delightful moments from 2018 : Dimitrije Vasiljevic is a soft spoken man, yet his story is big. Born in Serbia and trained in the Soviet classical music system, Dimitrije fell in love with the music of New Orleans and of course, it changed his path as he followed his heart (and ears) to the USA. Dimi is currently a music professor at Xavier University in Louisiana, and his 2018 album - Accidental Nomad - tells the story in instrumental form of his journey as he reflects on the path that makes so much sense to him (and us), but is truly difficult for others to understand. And the music! A carefully woven tapestry that blends his classical training, his understanding of odd meters in the Serbian style, and his finely tuned ear for American Jazz. Accidental Nomad is like an easy chair, a spot where you feel at home while reflecting on the day’s journey. Bravo.
2018 marked he launch of Uprising Music NYC, an artist advocacy group and record label headed up by family and friends of Mr. Eddie Palmieri. With a solid community of artists in Latin Jazz and beyond, Uprising brings a wide roster of talent to the world. First up: Mr. Alex Conde, a pedigreed Spanish Flamenco and Jazz pianist who seeks to merge the elements of Flamenco, Afro-Cuban, and American Jazz forms. His new album, Origins, features Luques Curtis, Marcus Gilmore, Conrad Herwig, Brian Lynch, and more, and it is a delicate expression of his vision, conjuring images of a time past with a subtle dramatic edge. Origins sets the tone for the quality we can expect from Uprising Music - stay tuned.
Ayibobo. Blessings. Raised in Haiti in the family of the great Boukman Eksperyans, Paul Beaubrun is a shining light and an ambassador of positive energy to the world. His 2018 release is titled Ayibobo, and on this holiday we are extremely grateful for the man and his music. Having fled his native land, Paul established himself in New York and began his musical career. Along the path he has performed and collaborated with many, including Ms. Lauryn Hill, Jackson Browne, Arcade Fire, Brad Paisley, and Sheryl Crow. You get the picture, this is a man who connects with people through music and love, transcending the concept of style or genre. Ayibobo brings Paul’s Haitian Mizik Rasin roots and his love of the blues together in a fresh and cohesive way. Life on Earth is filled with struggle, yet gratitude for what we do have, and for each other, is the way. Ayibobo.
Yeni Nostalji means ‘New Nostalgia’, and the music is exactly that. Songwriter and vocalist Christina Marie Gleixner hails from Virginia and credits Leonard Cohen, Morissey, and Dolly Parton as influences, yet her music sounds like none of those. Christina learned the Turkish language and chose to write and sing in that language because it felt familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. The result is on of our top picks from 2018 - the self titled debut from Yeni Nostalji, a beautiful blend of cultures and styles that stays with you. Our favorite track is Olumsuz - we don’t know what it means, but we know how it feels. Know what I mean?
The powerful collaboration between Nate Werth and Robert ‘Sput’ Searight - Ghost-Note - is like a supernatural machine that gathers power as it moves. The engine is the rhythm, and we have yet to find its full power as it build momentum constantly, drawing more energy from new players and new fans. In 2018 Ghost-Note delivered Swagism, an in the moment challenge that brings MonoNeon, Sly 5th Ave, AJ Brown, Jonathan Mones, Michael Jelani Brooks, and Xavier Taplin into the full mix. Composed and then re-composed on the spot as they hit the studio, Swagism includes interludes of life on the road with this band of brothers committed to sound. This is a moment in a band’s momentum that we will all look back on and say - ‘yeah, that was it man, I saw them in my local spot’. Grab the power of Swagism right here.
Discussions of race and social justice in America are often polarized; the vocal parties are of a particular culture or worldview and the volley begins. Some artists reflect and respond, others speak of love as the answer. Dana Murray does neither - as a young man growing up in Omaha Nebraska he found himself in both worlds - that of downtown musicians as well as the suburban set. He discovered early on the way in which these different people viewed each other, but he remained a friend to both. And so, with his new album Negro Manifesto he simply set out to open the discussion; to present the case and listen to the response. One cannot solve a problem like this with a tweet or simply a statement, no matter how in depth and powerful it may be. And so we welcome this album as a starting point to consider all sides and work towards some resolution. Dana presents his music with open discussion at panels, in the confident hope that if we talk, we can work it out. Dig in and let the questions begin.
Richard X Bennett has a curious mind. His first two releases on Ropeadope gave us a glimpse by showing two parts of his composing style - a groove trio and a Jazz Quintet that highlighted his understanding of Indian music. In 2018 Richard returned with Away From The Many, now taking time for deep introspection through music. Challenges in his life led him here, and the purpose was not just to transform his experience into beauty, but to create an album for the listener to play when one finds themselves alone. Richard points out that he often puts a cover song on his albums to show the listener what the mood of the recording is by playing something familiar in the same style. In this case it is a soft, deep, almost haunting version of Elton John’s Bennie and The Jets, and the piece does exactly what was intended. Bennett also found a friend in the process, as he teamed up with Ropeadope labelmate Aaron Dolton, no stranger to challenges in life, for two remixes included on the album. The synergy was instant, as two piano players from different continents found the same metaphysical space to perform in. Pick a day, any day, when you find yourself alone or just need to stretch out in space to reflect and regroup, and cue up Away From The Many.
Groundbreaking Ropeadope artist Jonathan Scales hipped us to this one. After 15 years with the indie pop band Stephaniesid, Chuck Lichtenberger hit the studio to record his solo album, an opus of personal discovery dealing with his challenges of trauma and mental health. Classically trained on piano, Chuck composes elaborate pieces, aided by Jonathan and a solid cast of players; MonoNeon, Jay White, Shariq Tucker, Zack Page and more. Together they lay down a dazzling foundation for Chuck’s deep lyrical material, which is punctuated with quirky humor and a solid touch of playfulness and hope. When the music first hits it might be easy to dismiss this one as a self indulgent novelty, but soon one realizes the depth and common nature of Chuck’s struggle. In this way the album becomes a healing force; something for each of us to play when life gets to be too much.