2008 marked a banner year for the growth and acceptance of Afro-Peruvian Jazz as it moved into a major position in the Latin Jazz world – a trend that continued strongly into 2009. In 2008, a number of artists released outstanding recordings that authentically captured the depth of the Afro-Peruvian music tradition while holding onto the beauty of jazz harmony and improvisation. Musicians such as Gabriel Alegria and Kiki Sanchez brought Afro-Peruvian Jazz into the forefront of their artistic personalities, with Alegria becoming particularly influential. A scene coalesced around Afro-Peruvian Jazz in New York, fueled by the creation of Lima Limon Records, a label dedicated to the promotion and survival of Afro-Peruvian Jazz. Backed by Pasache Music, the label helped produce albums from Alcatraz, a New York group bringing together jazz and Afro-Peruvian rhythms, as well as The Year Of Two Summers, an outstanding release from bassist and composer Edward Perez. When 2009 arrived, the move towards Afro-Peruvian Jazz just kept gaining momentum with head turning releases from Manante, Yuri Juarez, and Geoffrey Keezer. Tutuma Social Club opened its doors in 2009, becoming the first club to provide a home exclusively to Afro-Peruvian Jazz with regular live music, no cover, and great Peruvian food. The move towards Afro-Peruvian Jazz seems unstoppable at this point, a rush of kinetic energy that keeps becoming more powerful. Here at Latin Jazz Corner, we knew that Afro-Peruvian Jazz had arrived as an important piece of the Latin Jazz world when guitarist Eric Kurimski scored a significant victory in the LJC Best of 2008 Awards, as LJC readers named his recording Réplica Album of the Year.
Kurimski’s Album of the Year award made a strong statement about his emergence as a major musical voice and the growth of Afro-Peruvian Jazz as a style. A tasteful and eloquent player, Kurimski speaks with the depth of a New York jazz musician and the lyrical spirit of a thoughtful composer. He blends Afro-Peruvian rhythms into his compositions with a natural ease, invoking the folk nature of the genres as well as the aggressive sophistication of each rhythmic structure. The guitarist works as a thoughtful bandleader, smartly structuring the music around his strengths while providing ample time for this sidemen to shine. All of these elements come into play throughout Réplica, presenting an outstanding example of the possibilities inherent in Afro-Peruvian Jazz and Kurimski’s potential as a leader to the genre. From the gentle introspection on “Hope For Spring” to the up-tempo festejo of “New York Titlan” or the clever lando version of “Giant Steps,” Kurimski validates the style with a substantial performance that demands recognition. In a year filled with incredible albums that stretched between Afro-Cuban Jazz, Brazilian Jazz, and more, Kurimski’s Réplica deserved the accolades that it received – the album and the subsequent LJC award stand as an important musical milestone for Kurimski. As we’ve moved eight months into the future, it’s time to look past individual milestones and check in with Kurimski as a current artist.
I’ve collected a couple of videos from Kurimski’s recent performance at The Blue Note in New York as part of the Afro-Peruvian Festival. The videos find Kurimski’s top-notch musicality in high gear, showing his outstanding performances as both a soloist and a sensitive accompanist. Most important, they trace the evolution of his presence as a stylist, displaying artistic growth since his award winning performance on Réplica. The videos feature his regular collaborators on New York’s Afro-Peruvian Jazz scene, bassist Edward Perez and vocalist Sofia Rei Koutsovitis. Both of these musicians lead potent careers as bandleaders, but they find a sympathetic artistic voice in Kurimski; the power of their collaboration shines throughout the videos. These videos serve as an incredible example of the bustling Afro-Peruvian Jazz scene in New York City, led by the deep and intelligent guitar playing of Eric Kurimski. Enjoy!
Eric Kurimski Trio At The Blue Note
Eric Kurimski With Sofia Rei Koutsovitis At The Blue Note
Want a little bit more of Eric Kurimski? Take a minute to check out a couple of albums:
Do you have a video to contribute to satisfy our weekly Latin Jazz video fix? If so, send it in – it’s time to feed our addiction. I’m looking for live performances, from any context. I’ll most likely be posting one video per week, but if you’ve got another idea, let’s talk. So come on Latin Jazz videographers, musicians, and fans – let’s share some of our memorable videos! Get my contact info HERE
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Weekly Latin Jazz Video Fix: Tutuma Social Club
Weekly Latin Jazz Video Fix: Sofia Rei Koutosvitis & Avantrio
Weekly Latin Jazz Video Fix: “Yo No Como Camote” by Edward Perez
Weekly Latin Jazz Video Fix: Jovino Santos Neto