Tag Archives: Cape Town International Jazz Festival

Tango Improvised with Afro-Cuban: a Fusion Feast with Escalandrum of Argentina

The recent Capetown International Jazz Festival (CTIJF) was given a special treat – a resurrection of grandmaster Astor Piazolla’s ‘New Tango’ with a special twist by grandson Daniel ‘Pipi’ Piazolla who loves the Afro-Caribbean claves rhythms set to a Tango mood.

Daniel 'Pipi' Piazolla, drummer

Daniel ‘Pipi’ Piazolla, drummer

Grandfather Astor Piazolla has been considered as Argentina’s most celebrated composer and bandoneonist of the ‘New Tango’ which did not include a singer, but wedded improvisational jazz and classical music together.  Two generations later, grandson Daniel ‘Pipi’  Piazolla and his merry Escalandrum sextet band have put aside the traditional bandoneon and violin of former tango years, and added singer, Elena Roger, and a three-horn section plus drum kit.

Escalandrum at CTIJF 2017

         Escalandrum 

Their intention is to promote the sounds of their city, Buenos Aires, which reigns with the tango, but continue to fuse the delightful urban swing with some complicated improvisation techniques, particularly using the sonorous, multi-ranged bass clarinet, a rarity in contemporary jazz.  Pipi says his grandfather hated the dancing that went with his-day tango.  “People should listen, not dance, to tango,” Pipi agrees.

images (2)

They love their city of Buenos Aires as well as sharks.  “Escalandrún” is the Argentinian name for a sand shark, the favourite marine animal of the Piazolla family who fish sharks.  One song performed at the Jazz Festival was composed by drummer Pipi to honour sharks.  It was a stunningly haunting piece with the bass clarinet making sonic images of whale and dolphin calls, low rumbles conveying feelings of dark sea depths, and other primordial sounds, even imitating the dirigidoo.

Escalandrum performing at CTIJF 2017

Escalandrum performing at CTIJF 2017

Their performance at CTIJF this year was their first on African soil.  ‘Pipi’ felt there were so many similarities between African rhythms and the tango that they hope to continue more collaborations as Escalandrum perfects their own new age tango improvisations.

Escalandrum at CTIJF 2017 Media Conference

Escalandrum at CTIJF 2017 Media Conference

During my interview with the sextet of large and well-built men, Pipi explained that in 2001, when a crisis in Argentina caused many to leave the country, he and his merry men stayed (his musical buddies formed Escalandrum in 1999);  they felt the pressure to change the folkloric tango and offer uplifting music for their depressed fellow citizens.  Hence, an emphasis on the milonga 5/4 odd meter beats.  “We were more socially inspired than political because the country wasn’t stable. We searched in ourselves; our ages influenced us:  when young we just wanted to play bebop, but as we grew older the mind opened up to other inspiring rhythms.  Everybody was running away, but we wanted to stay here.”

We talked about why Escalandrum was fusing more with Afro-Cuban music.  “The Latin milongas go well with our own folkloric traditions in Argentina:  the chacarera and malambo rhythms in 6/8, the sambo in ¾, and as jazz musicians, we love rhythms.”  Then, why did they move away from the accordion?  “The bandoneon is more difficult to adapt to the improvisational jazz approach which we want to move forward.  In Argentina and particularly in Buenos Aires, we are a melting pot of cultures so we don’t stick to one traditional sound, but branch out and absorb others which have influenced us – like African, North American, and Cuban music.  The bandoneon has actually saved our music, and made it original, but there is other original music we can continue to produce. “

And what was that about Mozart, I asked?  “A festival producer wanted us to bring our interpretation of Mozart in Piazolla form to a festival, as an art form.  Those people interested in classical music were willing to let us be free with our presentations, which is good.   We brought on one of our best classical musicians who also was our teacher and also taught my grandfather, and we performed with only two microphones – very stereophonic.  It was one recording with no mixing, and is available.  It was quite a challenge, however, to play Mozart and Piazolla together!

CD 'Piazolla plays Piazolla' Album Cover

CD ‘Piazolla plays Piazolla’ Album Cover

Escalandrum’s Latin Grammy-winning album, “Piazolla Plays Piazolla”, explains so eloquently and sonorously the dimensions and styles which their contemporary music is using.  Produced in 2011, the album is excitingly polyrhythmic, thanks to the many clave beats grounded in Afro-Cuban/Caribbean varieties.  Each band member has composed songs and infused his own sounds to make this album multi-spirited and innovative.

‘Tanguedia  1” sounds like an angry retort against the flimsy tango dancing people, unsupported by Escalandrum’s style of tango.   “Fuga 9” implants a classical flare which contorts into horn-pronounced  resolution,  followed by a boppish piano trio which seeks to calm down the protesting horns.  This is a well improvised piece, full of jazzic twists that return to the fundamental Piazolla beat.

“Romance del Diablo” starts with low key bass clarinet paired with melodic saxes morphing into a surprising ballad honouring the devil.  Here, the horns spell diabolic images romancing themselves, a winner!

It’s this fusion of the at-times cacophonic improvisation (as in ‘Buenos Aires Hora Cero’), mellow ballad moods, and standard jazz bop, which permits the re-entry of that notorious tango rhythm into the sonicsphere,  that keeps one’s ears eagerly plugged to the band’s conversations.  “Adios Nonino” does this nicely, resolving into a beautiful, almost mournful, song.

One learns the wide range of the bass clarinet, so expertly played by Martin Pantyrer,  which successfully establishes frameworks for both mood and message.

Martin Pantyrer plays bass clarinet & tenor saxophone

Martin Pantyrer plays bass clarinet & tenor saxophone

The beats keep changing between 5-4 time, then the clave 3-2 time, and so on, but the fundamental 4/4 time sounds come from Pipi’s clave, that five-stroke pattern that is at the structural core of many Afro-Cuban rhythms. The album ends with a stunning drum solo by Pipi in ‘Libertango’ that fuses, again, with the basic tango sound and seems to heal and free up the spirit.

Escalandrum sextet

Escalandrum sextet

Pipi explains what influences him:  “The Uruguayan–African influences have molded the Milongo and  malambo mixtures which are heard, such as the  5/4 time. Also, every night I watch YouTube music videos to find something new and interesting. Then in the morning, I try to practice what I heard and explore different sounds.”  Pianist Nicholas Guerschberg says he tries to find new music and ideas and styles so he can play different originals.  The latest project is to combine Mozart with our tango!”  Escalandrum’s latest album,  “SesionesION:Obras de Mozart y Ginastera”, recorded in mid-2016, was released January 4, 2017.

 

'SesionesION' Album Cover

‘SesionesION’ Album Cover

They do sound like friends who have hung out together since youth, who decided to put their talents together into a band in 1999.  Escalandrum has traveled extensively since, winning awards as they merge the Argentinian rhythmic styles more and more with the Afro-Caribbean Latin influences.  Hence, sounds of conga, son, mambo, and salsa spice up their forward-sounding tango and other globally-influenced rhythms.  This is rhythmic excitement at its best!

Leave a Comment

Filed under CD & Gig Reviews, Interviews with Carol Martin

Ear Candy -A Review of Al Jarreau’s “My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke” by C. Martin

“I took my first voice lesson a month ago,” beamed the 75-year old multi-Grammy Award singer, Al Jarreau. “Yeah, I’m studying voice now! In the rush of things, I had picked up some bad habits in my singing”. Well, I wouldn’t know! This announcement during his press conference preceded his stage appearance the next evening at the recent Cape Town International Jazz Festival held end March 2015. He was also plugging his latest album, “My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke” which does just that – honours a musical dynasty of invited artists who, together, stamp their own soundprints on the song legacy left by the late Duke who passed on in 2013.

My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke

My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke

Read an My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke excellent interview with Jarreau by Smooth Views about this album’s evolution: http://smoothviews.com/WordPress/?p=1055  and about the signature which producer John Burk puts, as does fellow writer and bassist, Stanley Clarke, on the whole album.

Had the Duke lived to hear his 10 songs on the album, he might have called it ‘ear candy’. There are sweet, some sour, sassy and sarcastic, but always soulful renditions of Duke’s tunes from the artist heavyweights who joined Jarreau.

Although the first song on the album is not a Duke song, “My Old Friend” is appropriate as it commemorates Jarreau’s 50 long years of friendship with Duke. In fact, Jarreau was reminded by Burk that he (Jarreau) was probably the longest collaborator going back to Duke’s Los Angeles days performing in the early 1960’s. In “Churchyheart” (tribute by Duke and Jarreau to Miles Davis’s ‘ Backyard Ritual/Bitches Brew’), there’s a love between fellow collaborator, bassist Marcus Miller, and Jarreau, both who loved Miles, and Miles loved them. You can hear it in the muted trumpet. With lyrics by Jarreau, Miller, who normally is a string bassist, offers a rare bass clarinet duet, or what Jarreau considered marking “some new territories”. Collaborator Stanley Clarke knocked heads together with Jarreau to select the songs having close connections between Duke and Jarreau, such as the bossa/samba song, or “Somebossa” as Jarreau calls it, where George Albright’s melodic saxophone presents this ‘summer breezin’ swing. In “Sweet Baby”, Jarreau’s falsetto pitch comes through nicely, in keeping with the title, matching Lalah Hathaway’s slinky voice. Vocalist Jeffrey Osborne and Jarreau announce “Every Reason to Smile” with a funky pop, like:

livin’ in a one room shack, you know it’s good to look back,

I loved those times so well….that’s how I learned to sing…

 

George Duke with Al Jarreau

George Duke with Al Jarreau

An old classic with Duke on piano and Boney James on tenor saxophone, ‘Bring me Joy’ brings back romantic memories of this past song about another day. Duke’s cousin Dianne Reeves (another multi Grammy award winner) and Jarreau swing into another samba rumble, enhanced by Lenny Castro’s percussion, in ‘Brazilian Love Affair/ Up from the Sea It Rose and Ate Rio in One Swift Bite”’. Characteristically, the song moves into a funky rap scat Jarreau is so noted for. Dr. John rattles his ‘brain salad’ in the last song on this album, ‘You Touch My Brain’ as each instrument skilfully lays out its own phrases like a tossed salad.

As Jarreau said to me during our interviews: “We brought in alot of people to cover his music. We laughed so much doing that record. I thought: ‘George, I’m sorry, I’m having a good time.’” And joyful, it is! So isn’t Jarreau’s aging voice.

The album was released in 2014 by Concord Music Group.

Leave a Comment

Filed under All Jazz Radio Blog, CD & Gig Reviews, Interviews with Carol Martin

Daily Schedule and Programme – Sunday 6 July

2014 STD Bank National Jazz Festival Own It

Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival 2014

9.00

BAND PRACTICES Band venues as for Friday

Mark Fransman, Mike Campbell, Marc de Kock, Terrence Scarr, John Davies, Ronel Nagfaal/Kelly Bell, Debbie Everard, Shaun Johannes, Brian Thusi, Duncan Combe

Room 6 Vocals

Vocal Centre All vocalists – general warm-ups/technique – Monique Hellenberg, Babalwa Mpulu

Room 7 Rhythm section: Finding your space in the rhythm section

Gorm Helfjord, Adam Glasser, Shane Cooper, Lloyd Martin

NSBB Room Sectional rehearsals with NSBB

Gary Keller, Marcus Wyatt, Bertil Strandberg, Mike del Ferro, Jeff Siegel

Auditorium Sound check

Pekka Pylkkänen, Nick Smart, Kyle Shepherd, Ronan Guilfoyle, Kesivan Naidoo

10.00 Hall Rehearsal

Frode Nymo, Børge-Are Halvorsen, Atle Nymo, Shannon Mowday, Marius Haltli, Frank Brodahl, Hildegunn Øiseth, Even Kruse Skatrud, Helge Sunde, Erik Johannessen, Jens Thoresen, Olga Konkova, Frode Berg, Håkon Mjåset Johansen

10.30 ELECTIVES Auditorium Internal gig/workshop

Ernst Reijseger Vocal Centre Vocal lesson – Monique Hellenberg, Katchie Cartwright

Music 2 How improvisation influences the jazz composer

Melissa van der Spuy

Music 27 Microphones

Evert de Munnik

Old 4 Programming Beats

Alistair Andrews

Old 7 Improvisation workshop (B)

Kelly Bell

Room 1 Percussion

Tlale Makhene

Room 3 National Schools B Band

John Davies

Room 4 Bass workshop

Concord Nkabinde

Room 5 Improvisation workshop (B)

George Werner

Room 7 Rehearsal

Karlheinz Miklin, Bänz Oester, Kesivan Naidoo

Room 8 Sax workshop

Morten Halle

Room 9 Improvisation workshop (I/A)

Dan Shout

Room 10 Improve your Rhythm Reading Skills

Terrence Scarr

Room 11 Trumpet workshop

Feya Faku

Room 12 Rehearsal

Nick Smart, Tutu Puoane, Pekka Pylkkänen, Marc de Kock, Gary Keller, Mike Rossi, Justin Bellairs, Sydney Mavundla, Lee Thomson, Sakhile Simani, Bertil Strandberg, Justin Sasman, Kyle du Preez, Nick Green, Mageshen Naidoo, Ewout Pierreux, Rich Syracuse, Jeff Siegel

12.00 PERFORMANCE Auditorium

School/Youth bands III Lasses Lakejer, UCT Big Band

12.00 ELECTIVES Hall Sound check

Frode Nymo, Børge-Are Halvorsen, Atle Nymo, Shannon Mowday, Marius Haltli, Frank Brodahl, Hildegunn Øiseth, Even Kruse Skatrud, Helge Sunde, Erik Johannessen, Jens Thoresen, Olga Konkova, Frode Berg, Håkon Mjåset Johansen Vocal Centre Vocal lesson – Melanie Scholtz, Babalwa Mpulu

Music 2 Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz 2014

Kyle Shepherd

Old 4 Programming Beats

Alistair Andrews

Old 6 My music

Maria Schneider

Old 7 Improvisation workshop (B)

Duncan Combe

Room 1 Improvisation workshop (I/A)

Mola Sylla, Shane Cooper, Mike del Ferro

Room 3 National Schools B Band

Dimos Dimitriadis

Room 4 Rhythm

Ronan Guilfoyle

Room 5 Improvisation workshop (I/A)

Gorm Helfjord, Ganesh Geymeier

Room 6 Circle songs

Monique Hellenberg

Room 8 Freedom in the Groove

Jonno Sweetman

Room 9 Rehearsal

Katchie Cartwright, Burton Naidoo, Shaun Johannes, Lloyd Martin Room

10 Trombone workshop

Kelly Bell

Room 11 Trumpet workshop

Marcus Wyatt

13.30 Hall Sound check

Maria Schneider, Frode Nymo, Børge-Are Halvorsen, Dan Shout, Atle Nymo, Morten Halle, Shannon Mowday, Marius Haltli, Frank Brodahl, Hildegunn Øiseth, Marcus Wyatt, Even Kruse Skatrud, Helge Sunde, Erik Johannessen, John Davies, Melissa van der Spuy, Jens Thoresen, Olga Konkova, Frode Berg, Håkon Mjåset Johansen

14.00 ELECTIVES Auditorium Internal gig/workshop

Katchie Cartwright, Burton Naidoo, Shaun Johannes, Lloyd Martin Vocal Centre West African vocals – Mola Sylla Music

2 Piano workshop

Bokani Dyer

Music 27 Teacher/university meeting

All teachers + university lecturers

Old 4 Make Midi files sound good

Alistair Andrews

Old 6 Jazz harmonica

Adam Glasser

Old 7 Improvisation workshop (B)

George Werner

Room 1 Improvisation workshop (I/A)

Kyle Shepherd

Room 3 Drum workshop

Kesivan Naidoo

Room 4 Improvisation workshop (B)

Daniel de Wet

Room 5 Improvisation workshop (I/A)

Ronan Guilfoyle, Afrika Mkhize

Room 6 Small group

Monique Hellenberg, Leoni Armour

Room 7 Rehearsal

Feya Faku, Dimos Dimitriadis, Nduduzo Makhathini, Romy Brauteseth, Ayanda Sikade

Room 8 Sax workshop

Ganesh Geymeier

Room 10 Playing in a trombone section: sound and articulation

Louise Zschage Room 11 Youth/Schools B Ensemble

Brian Thusi

Room 12 Improvisation workshop (I/A)

Shane Cooper, Harmen Fraanje

15.00 Hall Sound check

Nick Smart, Tutu Puoane, Pekka Pylkkänen, Marc de Kock, Gary Keller, Mike Rossi, Justin Bellairs, Sydney Mavundla, Lee Thomson, Sakhile Simani, Bertil Strandberg, Justin Sasman, Kyle du Preez, Nick Green, Mageshen Naidoo, Ewout Pierreux, Rich Syracuse, Jeff Siegel

15.15 Auditorium Internal performance Vocals

Youth/Schools B Ensemble (Brian Thusi), National Schools B Band (Marc de Kock), NSBB (Mike Campbell), NYJB (Mark Fransman)

17.00 PERFORMANCE Hall

SA Tribute Big Band Nick Smart, Tutu Puoane, Pekka Pylkkänen, Marc de Kock, Gary Keller, Mike Rossi, Justin Bellairs, Sydney Mavundla, Lee Thomson, Sakhile Simani, Bertil Strandberg, Justin Sasman, Kyle du Preez, Nick Green, Mageshen Naidoo, Ewout Pierreux, Rich Syracuse, Jeff Siegel

17.30 Auditorium Sound check

Karlheinz Miklin, Bänz Oester, Kesivan Naidoo

19.00 PERFORMANCE

Auditorium Karlheinz Miklin Trio Karlheinz Miklin, Bänz Oester, Kesivan Naidoo

19.30 PERFORMANCE

Hall Maria Schneider Maria Schneider, Frode Nymo, Børge-Are Halvorsen, Dan Shout, Atle Nymo, Morten Halle, Shannon Mowday, Marius Haltli, Frank Brodahl, Hildegunn Øiseth, Marcus Wyatt, Even Kruse Skatrud, Helge Sunde, Erik Johannessen, John Davies, Melissa van der Spuy, Jens Thoresen, Olga Konkova, Frode Berg, Håkon Mjåset Johansen

20.00 Café Sound check

Feya Faku, Dimos Dimitriadis, Nduduzo Makhathini, Romy Brauteseth, Ayanda Sikade

20.30 Old 7 Student jam session

Shaun Johannes

21.30 PERFORMANCE

Auditorium Pekka Pylkkänen Pekka Pylkkänen, Nick Smart, Kyle Shepherd, Ronan Guilfoyle, Kesivan Naidoo

21.30 PERFORMANCE

Cafe Feya Faku Feya Faku, Dimos Dimitriadis, Nduduzo Makhathini, Romy Brauteseth, Ayanda Sikade

22.00 PERFORMANCE

Hall Ensemble Denada Frode Nymo, Børge-Are Halvorsen, Atle Nymo, Shannon Mowday, Marius Haltli, Frank Brodahl, Hildegunn Øiseth, Even Kruse Skatrud, Helge Sunde, Erik Johannessen, Jens Thoresen, Olga Konkova, Frode Berg, Håkon Mjåset Johansen, Peter Baden

23.30 Cafe Jazz Jam

Lee Thomson

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2014 Standard Bank National Jazz & Arts Festival

Cape Town International Jazz Festival Day 1 | Ottawa Citizen

It’s just after 6 p.m. on the Friday night that tens of thousands of music fans from across South Africa and beyond have long been looking forward to.

In the Cape Town International Convention Centre’s largest and most cavernous meeting room, several thousand people, all primed to party, are on their feet, waiting to hear the tremendously popular Afro-pop group Mafikizolo open the Cape Town International Jazz Festival.

Fan fever is growing by increments. The group has been announced, the backing musicians have begun playing, but the group’s stars — singers Theo Kgosinkwe and Nhlanhla Nciza — haven’t yet emerged from back stage. They milk the moment for all it’s worth, appearing at last and one by one to raucous cheers, only after three backup singers and a foursome of dancers, all sharply dressed with glamourous, retro appeal, have preceded them.

Read more at Cape Town International Jazz Festival Day 1 | Ottawa Citizen.

Leave a Comment

Filed under CD & Gig Reviews, Jazz Music & Radio News, Performances, Videos