Latin Jazz nominees for tonight’s Latin Grammy Awards

Tania Maria Credit: Bruno Bollaert, volume12

The 13th Annual Latin Grammy Awards will  air live  in the United States on the Univision Network  from 8–11 p.m. ET/PT (7 p.m. Central) tonight.

Here are the nominiees for the Best Latin Jazz Album:

Jerry González y El Comando De La Clave:  best known for his ground-breaking Fort Apache Band, Jerry’s other projects include a big band and Los Piratas del Flamenco.

Chuchito Valdes Live in Chicago:  yes, the son of Chucho Valdes and the grandson of Bebo Valdes.  Talent and energy run in the family.

Tania Maria–Tempo:  pianist, singer, composer, bandleader.  Her specialty is a blend of samba, bossa nova, Afro-Latin, Pop and Jazz fusion.

Poncho Sanchez and Terence Blanchard–Chano y Dizzy:  a tribute to the musical collaboration of American trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo.

Arturo Sandoval–Dear Diz (Every Day I Think of You):  another loving tribute to Dizzy Gillespie, mentor to so many musicians and supporter of Afro-Cuban jazz.

Two other nominees to watch, in the Best Instrumental Album category:

Miguel Zenón–Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook:  a beautiful collection of songs from Zenón’s ancestors, beloved by generations of Puerto Ricans.

Chick Corea, Eddie Gomez & Paul Motian–Further Explorations:  the trio “further explores” the music of Bill Evans.

Film review: ‘Treme Life,’ a love letter to New Orleans

James Demaria, photographer, filmmaker and soul searcher, became friends with trumpeter Kermit Ruffins about 5 years ago. They decided to try to make a film about Kermit’s musical upbringing in New Orleans’ Treme neighborhood.  James went down to New Orleans in 2009 with a camera crew and started trailing Kermit from place to place. And what started out as a film about a jazz musician turned into something else.

 “People wanted to vent. People wanted to tell me about what was going on in their piece of New Orleans. And people wanted to talk about saving the New Orleans they knew and loved and the traditions they felt were being lost.”

Treme Life turned into a love letter to New Orleans.

 “Native New Orleanians are people you can never forget. Once they start talking to you it’s like being with someone you love. Even if you just met.”

New Orleans, and the Treme neighborhood in particular, is the cradle of the unique culture of music and food and joy that couldn’t have happened anywhere else in the world.

Demaria has crafted a stylish, informative and touching documentary, which features:

Trumpeter Kermit Ruffins, the “feel-good ambassador.”  For Kermit, it’s all about music, barbecue and having a good time – New Orleans style. He speaks with concern about post-Katrina changes in the city that are causing its residents to lose touch with the history and traditions of the Treme.

Dancing Man 504 (Darryl Young), a second-line dancer who has taken it upon himself to spread the tradition of second-line as a step in healing the damaged city.  As he says, New Orleans “… needed to be more than rebuilt, she needed to be enjoyed!”

Comments from such New Orleans stalwarts as Dr. John, Rev. Goat Carson, Ken “Afro” Williams and the truly delightful Lolet Boutte all contribute to a picture of an irreplaceable community.

The filmmaker even takes some New Orleans culture home to New York, with a funeral parade for Coney Island, and a second-line over the Brooklyn Bridge. A visit to the Louis Armstrong House museum in Queens with trombonist Glen David Andrews is especially moving.

James Demaria is passionate about New Orleans.

He has lived in New Orleans, and now is a frequent visitor, calling it:

“A place to feel at home. A place to take a rest and recharge. A place to bask in the warmth and kindness of some of the most terrific folk on God’s green Earth.”

If you’ve been there, you know how true that is.

Let’s all do what we can to keep it that way.

Treme Life is available for download at

DVDs will be available at some time in the future.

More information about the film and James Demaria’s work here:

Movie Review: A Drummer’s Dream

A Drummer’s Dream

Review by Robin Lloyd

The Film:

Award-winning Canadian documentary film maker John Walker was a rock drummer in the late 1960s, until the I-Ching told him to choose another career.  Beautifully filmed in the Canadian wilderness, Walker’s A Drummer’s Dream documents the gathering at a summer drum camp, staffed by some of the top performers in rock, jazz and latin music.

Mr. Walker was so inspired by this camp, he picked up drumsticks for the first time in decades.  You’ll see him at the drumset in the jam session finale.

The Players:

Montreal-based drummer/composer Nasyr Abdul Al-Khabyyr spent 4 years touring the world with Dizzy Gillespie’s band.  He’s also worked with pianist Oliver Jones and most recently, saxophonist Kenny Garrett. Nasyr is currently a Professor in the music faculties of both Vanier College & Concordia University in Montréal.

For his drum camp idea, Nasyr reached out to the drummers he’d met and befriended on his tours with Dizzy, as well as a few well-known clinicians.  Many also have connections with Carlos Santana.

Boston’s Mike Mangini is best known as a metal drummer and is currently with Dream Theatre.  His many honors include “Boston’s Best Drummer”  “Best Clinician” and “World’s Fastest Drummer”—which he demonstrates for the students.  His love for teaching is obvious in the film.

One of the most prominent Cuban drummers, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez shares his love of drumming, his realistic attitude toward practice and dedication, and provides some laughs as he stages a “get-away” from the camp via rowboat.

Giovanni Hidalgo, the power-house Puerto Rican conguero, lives for drumming and spreading joy.  His credits include work with every Latin jazz star from Tito Puente to Eddie Palmieri.  He is always a delight to see and hear.

Raul Rekow is Santana’s percussionist, and has been since 1976.  This film shows him to also be a thoughtful, respectful teacher, and he offers some insight into the minds and hearts of drummers everywhere.

Groove master Dennis Chambers (Santana, Maceo Parker, John Scofield) is a proudly self-taught drummer, known for his impressive speed and technique.  He’s an imposing figure, not one you’d expect to get emotional about much of anything.  But you’ll see him do just that in the film as he talks about drummers playing from the heart.

Kenwood Dennard is the drummer from another planet–a very rhythmic and happy planet, I’m sure, and one that I wouldn’t mind visiting.  He’s worked with Maceo, Miles, Dizzy and Pat Martino.  His mission is to make everyone feel as good as he does when he’s playing the drums, and he does create many, many smiles in the film.

The Mystic Brotherhood of the Drum

I’m always curious about why musicians and artists do what they do.  A Drummer’s Dream reveals some common threads:  All the drummers showed musical interest and ability early in life, 3-5 years of age.  All remember in intricate detail the first time they played a drum.  Most felt that drumming was a calling, and that it made them part of “something bigger” than themselves.  All agree that talent is fine, but it is dedication, practice and hard work that makes a great drummer.


  • Hidalgo and Rekow making each other laugh, and finishing each other’s sentences.  They are truly in tune with each other.
  • Watching the students start to understand what they’re in for at drum camp.  One student speaks about the rhythms of nature, and it’s quite touching.

The Lesson:

Here’s what I hope the students took away from their time at drum camp:

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have the fastest, most impressive technique, the best and the most drum gear, the fame and recognition of a master drummer.  But if you’re not having fun, expressing yourself and playing from the heart, you’re missing the whole point.

Actually, that’s not a bad philosophy for your life’s work, whatever it may be.

A Drummer’s Dream plays at Northwest Film Forum in Seattle Friday January 20th through Sunday January 22nd with three showings daily. For more information, visit


Two ways to celebrate the life of Clark Terry and ‘Keepin on’

Trumpeter, composer, bandleader and jazz educator Clark Terry will be 91 years old this week. His 70-plus year career is being celebrated with a couple of biographical events.

Due out soon is a film which takes its title from Mr. Terry’s favorite phrase of support, “Keep on keepin’on!

The book “Clark-The Autobiography of Clark Terry” was released in October to great praise from the jazz community and press. In it, Clark talks about his beginnings in St. Louis and tells stories about his work with Charlie Barnet, Count Basie and Duke Ellington.

Also, he discusses his time as a staff musician at NBC, which included 12 years with the Tonight Show band, and the discovery of his calling to teach and mentor young musicians, which he says is the joy of his life. Thousands of students and others he has encouraged adore Clark, or “Cee Tee,” as he’s known to many.

The book, written with his wife Gwen, is so conversational that it’s very much like an extended visit with Clark. He’s a born storyteller, whether with his trumpet or with words. I found it delightful from start to finish.

First person (by Robin Lloyd)

Folks who spend any time with Clark Terry love to talk about the experience. I’m no exception.  Here’s my Cee Tee story:

In March of 1980, I was a fledgling jazz host and producer at a little gem of a public radio station, WFBE-FM in Flint, MI. When I heard that Clark Terry was coming to Flint to do clinics, workshops and concerts with high school and college bands, I begged and pleaded with the Mott Community College band director (a very patient man named Chuck Iwanusa, who is still teaching somewhere, I believe) to bring Clark to the station to tape an interview. He agreed, we set a time, and wonder of wonders, I was soon sitting down with Chuck and Clark Terry and a tape machine. This was my first radio interview with a major jazz artist.

Cee Tee is what I refer to as the radio host’s ideal guest:  the self-winding interviewee.

You ask a basic question, you get a well-thought out answer, a couple of interesting stories to go along with it, and if you’re lucky, a good joke, too.  Clark had it all!

I asked the simple ones (Clark built his first trumpet with parts from junkyard) and Chuck helped with specific questions to fill in details (getting stood up by Lionel Hampton, waiting for the call from Duke Ellington and, when it finally came, thinking it was a friend playing a joke.  This happened twice.).

I confess to just sitting back and taking it all in, listening to this acclaimed musician whose recordings I loved and whose appearances on television were a big event in my house.  I will never forget his brilliant smile, his twinkling eyes and his laugh as we chatted across the table.

It was over all too soon. On our way out of the studio, I complimented Clark, always a sharp dresser, on his beautifully-made winter coat.

He shared one more story:  the coat belonged to his wife Pauline, who had passed away just four months previously.  He wore it to keep her close, and to feel her warmth.

He was still in mourning, but he’d made a commitment to work with these students in Flint, and he was not about to let them down.

We hugged, and made plans to visit backstage at the concert he’d give at the end of the week of clinics and workshops.

My copy of the taped interview was lost years ago in a flooded basement.

I have one Polaroid snapshot of me and Cee Tee backstage on concert night. I treasure that picture, and I keep it handy for those times when I need to be reminded to “keep on keepin’ on!”

Send Clark a note

Clark has been in hospital since mid-October, and last week had his right leg amputated. Gwen reads him all the greetings left on his website’s guestbook and in the comments on his blog. It really cheers him to hear from those he’s influenced and encouraged through the years. Send him some birthday love this week.

Related Posts:

Clark Terry Documentary Near Completion

KPLU Studio Session: Kevin Kniestedt interviews Clark Terry

An evening of accolades and ‘hope’ with We Four and Sonando

We Four and Sonando was an inspired Earshot pairing Saturday at Town Hall. The concert was a tribute to two “restless geniuses” of jazz in one night.


Fred Hoadley’s long-lived and popular Latin Jazz group Sonando opened the show. In his introduction, Earshot director John Gilbreath praised Hoadley for his dedication and commitment to the project at hand, re-working music by Charles Mingus for Afro-Cuban rhythms.

It truly was a tall order: to take the dense, multi-layered and often complicated compositions of Mingus and add yet another facet to them is not a task that many musicians would seek out.

Sonando highlights

Sonando’s treatments of Pithecanthropus Erectus, Self Portrait in Three Colors and particularly Nostalgia in Times Square served to show the Mingus genius in a slightly different light. Hoadley’s arrangements, especially that of Meditations on Integration also seemed to bring forward the composer’s reverence for Duke Ellington. A highlight was the seldom-heard The I of Hurricane Sue featuring the three percussionists each on a different size of Batá drum.

All well done and well received by the audience, Hoadley and Sonando gave a spirited performance. They can be heard every third Thursday at Tula’s in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood.

We Four: Javon Jackson

Javon Jackson

We Four, the John Coltrane tribute quartet, is fronted by saxophonist Javon Jackson, whose many credits include graduation from Art Blakey’s “Hard Bop Academy,” the Jazz Messengers. Jackson has also taken part in tribute performances to Freddie Hubbard and Dexter Gordon, and has recently convinced the great soul-jazz keyboardist and composer Les McCann to come out of retirement and do some touring.

Jackson was only half-joking when he said from the stage last night, “John Coltrane is the only man I dream about.”

In his stance, his attack and often in his sound, Jackson had moments when he did manage to channel the most mythological saxophonist of the modern jazz pantheon.

We Four: bassist and pianist

Bassist Nat Reeves, alternately burning up the strings and producing warm, round tones à la Paul Chambers throughout the performance was a delight to hear.

When pianist Mulgrew Miller explores a melody, you’ll hear things you’d never find on your own. His delicate solo on Naima was haunting, and the encore, Green Dolphin Street, truly became his own.

We Four: The star

The star of the evening, of course, was drummer Jimmy Cobb.

A NEA Jazz Master and the last remaining member of Miles Davis’s Kind Of Blue band, Cobb was a friend to John Coltrane and worked with him in various settings. Cobb propelled the band through an incredibly up-tempo Impressions, seemingly without breaking a sweat. His solo on Mr. PC brought the audience to their feet. Oh, and did I mention that Mr. Cobb is 82 years old?

A local drummer seated near me was heard to exclaim, “He’s 82?!  There’s hope …”

Yes, there’s hope.  Thank you, Earshot Jazz, for bringing us hope.

On the Web: