composing

National Jazz Museum in Harlem May 16 - May 22, 2011

Upcoming events at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem for this week include:

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Jazz for Curious Listeners

Tito Puente Month: Presented by Joe Conzo and special guests

7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300

The Jazz Years

The 60’s saw Puente fully immersed in his passion to combine Jazz and Latin music. A passion thatwas fueled by his mentors Machito and “Hall of Famer” Mario Bauza. It had been his belief that this “marriage” could become a powerful force in music, thereby enhancing the musical experience of the listener and dancer.

He teamed up with bandleader and trombonist Buddy Morrow and began a series of recording sessions where both of them performed with two full and completely different orchestras. The project culminated in the LP recording “Revolving Bandstand” under the RCA label.

With this recording, Latin Jazz received a shot in the arm. It would have a direct affect on some of the younger musicians that would be making a name for themselves in the years to come, notably, Ray Barretto, who first played with Puente in “Dance Mania” and also recorded on the “Revolving Bandstand” sessions.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Harlem Speaks

Bennie Wallace, Saxophonist

6:30 – 8:30pm
Location: NJMH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300

Tenor saxophonist Bennie Wallace made waves throughout the jazz world in the late 1970's with his debut recording, The Fourteen Bar Blues. Thereafter, with an unflagging respect and affection for classic jazz, he repeatedly represented his own progressive take on the music. His talent for composing and arranging music attracted the attention of Hollywood moviemakers in the late 1980's, which led him to spend nearly a decade in California composing and directing film soundtracks. Wallace's music has developed a more lyrical sense, yet his rhythms retained an authentic style that belonged uniquely to Wallace, according to critics. Winner of Germany's Deutscher Schallplattenpreis, the jazz Grammy equivalent, and a five-time winner of the Down Beat magazine award for Talent Deserving Wider Recognition, the full impact of Wallace's talent remained yet to unfold into the new century.

Born Bennie Lee Wallace Jr. on November 18, 1946, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Wallace began playing clarinet in his youth from the age of 12 when a music teacher at his school started a jazz band and taught the group about great jazz musicians like Count Basie, Charlie Parker, and Miles Davis. Later, Wallace played in the high school band and added tenor saxophone to his teenage repertoire. Despite his youth, he learned his way around the after-hour jazz clubs even while he was still in high school in Chattanooga. During his late-night excursions, Wallace participated in jam sessions, playing bebop and blues most frequently. He went on to study music at the University of Tennessee and received a bachelor's degree in clarinet studies in 1968. After college during the mid 1970's, he did some composing for a German radio orchestra although his first love was jazz saxophone. Even during a stint in Hollywood during the late 1980s and into the 1990's, Wallace maintai ned to interviewer Zan Stewart of the Los Angeles Times that his horn remained the focal point of his music and of his life.

After his arrival in New York from Tennessee, Wallace spent 1973 studying the old jazz masters and their music to discover the essence of each, focusing heavily on Johnny Hodges and Coleman Hawkins. Yet despite his in-depth study of historical jazz, Wallace disliked repertory bands and eschewed revivalist groups equally. He remained committed to personal definition in everything that he performed. It became evident that Wallace moved in a direction different from the bandwagon that typified so many of his contemporaries, with his styles rooted more closely in the work of Coleman Hawkins than with John Coltrane. In 1985, Wallace signed with Blue Note Records. His debut album for that label, entitled Twilight Time, remained a favorite for many years

In 1991, in an unanticipated career shift, Wallace moved his residence to Pacific Palisades in Southern California to be near the Hollywood film industry as he became involved in composing for films. The opportunity came as a result of his 1985 Blue Note release, Twilight Time, which caught the ear of filmmaker Ron Shelton. Shelton requested that Wallace contribute to the soundtrack for the late-1980's film Bull Durham. Wallace obliged with "Love Ain't No Triple Play," written expressly for that movie. Also heard on the Bull Durham soundtrack was a reprise of Wallace's arrangement of "Try a Little Tenderness." Wallace went on to score the movie Blaze and served as musical director the film White Men Can't Jump.

During this time, Wallace worked extensively with pianist Tommy Flanagan in creating film music. Additionally, Wallace worked behind the scenes as a docent of pianist Jimmy Rowles after Wallace, having settled in California, contacted Rowles completely without introduction. Regardless, a comfortable relationship bloomed between the two, as Rowles mentored Wallace not only in the mechanics of playing the piano, but also in the fine points of harmony. In 1993, Wallace released The Old Songs, an album which represented a culmination of the wisdom and inspiration that he derived from Rowles. He’s now back on the East Coast, living with his wife in Connecticut.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Harlem in the Himalayas

Colin Vallon Trio

7:00pm
Location: Rubin Museum of Art
(150 West 17th Street)
$18 in advance | $20 at door | 
For tickets: RMA Box Office or call 212-620-5000 ext. 344

Colin Vallon, piano
Patrice Moret, double-bass
Samuel Rohrer, drums

Get an insight into the international sounds of cutting edge jazz with the music of this band, which belongs among the most remarkable and fascinating which the Swiss scene has to offer. The 29-year-old Colin Vallon has everything an extraordinary musician needs: brilliant technique, personal expression, a sense for perfect timing and a very individual, musical language which he creates through the unusual sounds from his prepared piano. Together with bassist Patrice Moret and drummer Samuel Rohrer, he has developed an exciting multiple stylistics based on modern jazz, but from which it steps out into all directions possible. The trio lives out its dramaturgically excellent compositions in sensitive interplay.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday Panels
A Tito Puente Celebration
12:00 – 4:00pm

Location: NJMH Visitors Center
(104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2C)
FREE | For more information: 212-348-8300

Join us for an afternoon with the music of the King of Timbales, Tito Puente.

El Rey de Timbales. Tito Puente more than earned first place among modern Latin jazz musicians, working continuously from 1937 to 2000, recording over 100 albums.

Puente started his professional career as a drummer in Noro Morales’ orchestra. He played briefly with Machito’s Afro-Cubans before being drafted into the U.S. Navy, where he played in a band led by famed swing band leader, Charlie Barnet. After his discharge, Puente took advantage of the G.I. Bill to study at the Juilliard School of Music, while working with a variety of Latin bands in New York.

Puente quickly became known as a sizzling arranger. Promoter Federico Pagani hired Puente after hearing him jamming with a group of players from Pupi Campo's band, and dubbed them the Picadilly Boys. Puente subsequently moved to Tico Records and changed the group's name to Tito Puente and his Orchestra. Through numerous changes in labels and musicians, Puente has been in front of his group ever since.

Puente's fame skyrocketed when promoter Max Hyman bought the Palladium dance hall and opened it as a nightclub just as the craze for dancing the mambo and cha-cha hit in the early 1950's. He recalled nearly 50 years later:

“It was the explosion of dance. Remember, the Palladium was a big dance hall. I've always maintained that without a dance the music cannot be popular. People became aware of a new dance--the Mambo--it was ‘in’ to learn to dance the Mambo no matter what part of society you came from. And so here was a place, the Palladium, where everybody could come to dance or learn the Mambo. Dance studios sent their students to the Palladium, where they could learn and see great dancers—ballet stars, Broadway stars, expert Mambo dancers—all in one place. And I geared my music to these dancers.”

Puente rode the wave on Tico, then switched to RCA for what some consider his best albums, including Top Percussion, Dance Mania, his top-seller, and Mucho Puente. In the early 1960's, he moved from cha-chas and mambos to the new pachanga style and rejoined Tico to record Pachanga Con Puente. His 1962 descarga (Latin jam) album, El Rey Bravo debuted Puente's composition, "Oye Como Va," which later became a huge pop hit for Carlos Santana. "Every time he plays 'Oye Como Va,' I get a nice royalty check," Puente said.

Puente suffered through the boogaloo craze ("Boogaloo meant nothing to me. It stunk.") and carried on into the rise of salsa in the early 1970's. He recorded several albums in collaboration with Celia Cruz, the "Queen of Salsa." In the early 1980's, he moved into more traditional Latin jazz for the Concord label, earning a Grammy award for Tito Puente and His Latin Ensemble on Broadway. Although he was criticized for leaning on a clichéd style in his performances and material, Puente rallied again in 1991 to capitalize on the popularity of Oscar Hijuelos' novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love with the album, The Mambo King: 100th Album. It was actually something like his 112th, but who was counting at that point? Ever a trend-rider, Puente made his prime-time television debut in 1995 on an episode of "The Simpsons."

In 1997 Puente recorded 50 Years of Swing, a compilation of hits that celebrate his fifty years in the Latin music industry, and in 1999, he won his fifth Grammy for Best Latin Performance for his CD, Mambo Birdland. In the late 1990's, he was designated as a "Legend" by the Hispanic Hall of Fame, inducted to the Jazz Hall of Fame, received a star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood, and received a Smithsonian Lifetime Achievement award. He suffered a heart attack soon after his last public appearance, in April 2000, with the Puerto Rico Symphonic Orchestra at the "Centro de Bellas Artes" in Puerto Rico.