Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 4, No. 5, 2005

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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Mark Goldfarb
  Contributing Editors
Bernard Dubé
Phil Nixon
Robert Rotondo
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
  Music Editors
Emanuel Pordes
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Emanuel Pordes
  Past Jazz Contributors

Tommy Emmanuel
John Stetch
Susie Arioli
Coral Egan
Diana Krall
Stacey Kent
Carol Welsman
Aldo Romano
Denzal Sinclaire
Madeleine Peyroux
Bireli Lagrene

Montreal Jazz Festival 2005







Piano Keyboard




Featured artist: SONIDO ISLEÑO

Spandex may be passé for rockers, but it’s still all about how well you shred. For jazz musicians, you’ve got to shred and swing -- not to mention the necessity of having a complete command of harmony. For Latin jazz musicians, add another dimension to the mix: La clave -- the signature pulse that has found its way into many forms of American music. The rhythmic feeling is so integral to Latin music that playing out of clave will drive dancers off the dance floor. (This beat is most easily described as, “Shave and a haircut: two bits.”) Better still, think of Bo Diddley’s trademark rhythm in his tune “Who Do You Love.”

Ben Lapidus, leader of Sonido Isleño, shreds, swings and negotiates the clave on the tres, a guitar-like instrument with three double strings, found in Cuba and Puerto Rico. Lest you think of the tres as an exclusively ‘folkloric’ instrument, check out “La Suegra,” (The Mother-in-law,”) on the group’s fifth album, titled Vive Jazz. Lapidus sizzles. If you hear Chicago blues, don’t be surprised. It’s a family affair.

Without Latin music, American music would be unrecognizable. From the outset, as if by divine orchestration, music from the Spanish Caribbean was not only welcomed in America, it made an indelible stamp on American music, especially jazz and later rock. Jelly Roll Morton, the self-proclaimed inventor of jazz, referred to this impact as the “Latin tinge.”

At the turn of the century, massive migration of Spanish speakers from the Caribbean to New Orleans jump-started the ongoing marriage of African-American music north and south of the border. Starting in the late 40s, Dizzy Gillespie brought Latin jazz to the forefront of jazz when he collaborated with Cuban musicians Chano Pozo, Machito and Mario Bauza. Dizzy even referred to trumpeter and bandleader Bauza as “my father.”

In the 40s and 50s, Americans of all ethnicities danced the mambo at New York City’s Palladium, while Beat poets in San Francisco recited poetry to the beat of the Afro-Cuban bongos. The fusion conintues today and it is not confined to one style.

Ben Lapidus is a torch carrier for Latin music, and not just as an amazing tresero. He also holds a Ph.D from City University of New York, and adds to his worldwide gigs frequent lectures as one of Latin music’s foremost scholars. The title of Sonido Isleño’s most recent cd is taken from the poetry of Manuel Antonio Dueñas Peluffo, a 14 year-old Colombian poet, whom the band met while playing at a festival in Colombia.

“I believe that in order to play any kind of music, you must live it, hence the title, Vive Jazz, (Live Jazz),” says Lapidus. Latin jazz lives in his playing, and a quick spin of Vive Jazz removes any doubt of the power of the tres as a strong jazz voice.

Listen to Sonido Isleño perform "La Suegra" HERE.



John Coltrane
Miles Davis
Thelonius Monk
Charlie Mingus
Oscar Peterson
Charlie Parker
Dizzy Gillespie
Wes Montgomery
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