Today’s modern musical world finds the Latin Jazz realm continually expanding with a variety of South American and Caribbean influences as well as modern jazz ideals. Although Afro-Cuban and Brazilian rhythms formed the core of the genre through much of its history, we’re seeing the growth of Latin Jazz that utilizes music from Peru, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Haiti, and more. In reality, these other directions have always been alive, they’ve just been practiced among smaller communities, and we haven’t had easy access to them. Between online communication and greater world awareness, we’re now able to discover and hear artists with a variety of Latin Jazz approaches.
The ability to connect with these artists certainly serves as a positive, expanding our Latin Jazz horizons; still, these artists often practice their art form far from our computers, and we rarely, if ever, get the chance to see them perform live. Listening can bring you to a greater understanding of a musical style, but you can’t fully comprehend the power of Latin Jazz until you’ve experienced it live. When my initial interest in Latin Jazz began, my music collection grew fairly rapidly, but I didn’t really feel the music’s total impact until I saw concert by Paquito D’Rivera, Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band, Cachao, and more. The spontaneity, musical mastery, and sheer intensity of these experiences built a strong connection with the music, and as a result I developed a stronger understanding of the music.
Recently, I’ve been quite interested in the mix of jazz with Afro-Peruvian rhythmic styles, but I’m afraid to say that I’ve never really seen a complete concert of Afro-Peruvian Jazz. I’ve been analyzing the rhythms and looking at the ways that artists blend jazz into traditional songs; it’s a challenging process, especially considering that I’m doing this work on my own. While some concerts of traditional Peruvian music are occurring around me, I’m still missing the experience of hearing live jazz played with Peruvian rhythms. This musical movement is gaining momentum, but that work is happening far from my home base. Experiencing concerts by artists that are actively blending these styles would undoubtedly help me reach a fuller understanding of the music.
The videos below represent four Afro-Peruvian Jazz artists that I hope to experience live sometime in the near future – I haven’t heard of concerts nearby, but I can hope . . . these would be the experiences that I need to understand the style. Gabriel Alegria and his Afro-Peruvian Jazz group perform a piece from the album Nuevo Mundo with trumpeter Bobby Shew in the first video. Peruvian vocalist Pilar De La Hoz tackles the classic jazz standard “My Romance” over a Festejo rhythm in the second video. The third video features guitarist Richie Zellon performing a blues flavored jazz piece with his Peruvian trio. The last video contains a performance from pianist Kiki Sanchez and his Afro-Peruvian Jazz Project. They are all inspiring performances . . . I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that these artists make their way out to the Bay Area for a show. In the meantime . . . enjoy the videos!
Gabriel Alegria with Bobby Shew
My Romance – Pilar De La Hoz
Landologia – Richie Zellon Trio
Kiki Sanchez & the Afro-Peruvian Jazz Project at the Van Dyke Jazz Club