LJC Best Of 2011 Awards: Outer Edges Album, Flautist, Vibraphonist, Guitarist & Vocalist

by chip on December 28, 2011

The Latin Jazz Corner Best Of The Year Awards is an annual event fueled by the will of our readers – the winners are selected through a voting process open to LJC readers, Latin Jazz artists, Latin Jazz fans, and the general public. The voting for our fifth annual awards ran from December 8, 2011 – December 23, 2011 and drew over 20,000 participants from around the world. It was an exciting process that engaged numerous artists, fans, and music business professionals from all areas of the Latin Jazz world. You can learn more about the LJC Best Of The Year Awards by checking out this post – What Are The LJC Best Of The Year Awards?; on that page you’ll find links to frequently asked questions that should give you the complete scoop on the awards.

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In the remaining days of the year, we’ll be taking a look at the winners in each of the Best Of 2011 Award categories, revealing a small number with each passing day. Yesterday’s post look at the 2011 Latin Jazz Composition Of The Year, 2011 Latin Jazz Arrangement Of The Year, 2011 Latin Jazz Record Label Of The Year, and 2011 Latin Jazz Album Art Of The Year. Today we’ll be looking at the winners for the 2011 Outer Edges Album Of The Year, the 2011 Latin Jazz Flautist Of The Year, the 2011 Latin Jazz Vibraphonist Of The Year, the 2011 Latin Jazz Guitarist Of The Year, and the the 2011 Latin Jazz Vocalist Of The Year

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2011 Latin Jazz Outer Edges Album Of The Year

I Wanna Work For You
Alexa Weber Morales

One of the new categories that entered the Best Of The Year Awards during 2011 was the Outer Edges Award, a recognition meant for Latin Jazz artists that step outside the core of the tradition to integrate other genres. It’s an admission of the fact that not everyone strictly adheres to the guidelines laid out by the founders of Latin Jazz . . . and not everyone needs to stick to those rules. Vocalist Alexa Weber Morales has explored a number of stylistic directions with her music while firmly keeping a strong connection to Latin Jazz. I Wanna Work For You certainly blends a healthy helping of jazz harmonies and rhythms from across Cuba and Brazil, but there’s also bits of funk, pop, rock, and more. It’s a fantastic album that truly does explore the outer edges of the Latin Jazz world while making a serious nod to tradition.

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2011 Latin Jazz Flautist Of The Year

Mark Weinstein
El Cumbanchero
Mark Weinstein

It’s hard to walk into a style with a clearly defined lineage of great instrumentalists and then try to bring your own voice to the forefront. While the flute has plenty of space for creative interpretation in the jazz world, the role of the instrument has been spelled out through years of history in the Cuban charanga orchestra. When Mark Weinstein brought together the Cuban charanga with jazz improvisation, he faced the responsibility of respecting the instrument’s long history in the music while asserting his personality. Weinstein certainly isn’t a newcomer to blending jazz ideals with thick Cuban traditions – his ground breaking album Cuban Roots brought jazz into the world of Santeria rhythms. Armed with gorgeously intricate arrangements from pianist Aruán Ortiz, Weinstein delivered a memorable performance that brought the best of the two musics together in a highly artistic blend.

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2011 Latin Jazz Vibes Player Of The Year

Stefon Harris
Ninety Miles
David Sánchez, Stefon Harris, & Christian Scott

The vibraphone has held a long tradition in Latin Jazz, established by essential musicians such as Tito Puente and Cal Tjader, and the addition of a Vibraphonist category to the Best Of The Year Awards is long overdue. The instrument holds to key to both sides of the equation – the ability to outline melodies and harmonies while hitting them with an edgy percussive attack. Our first winner, Stefon Harris, has established himself as a major player in the world of modern jazz and sets himself alongside musicians with some serious Latin Jazz credibility on Ninety Miles. Along with trumpet player Christian Scott and Latin Jazz veteran David Sanchez, Harris traveled to Cuba and recorded with some of the island’s finest jazz musicians. The inspiration brought out a fine performance from Harris and gave us a prime example of the potential behind the vibraphone in Latin Jazz.

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2011 Latin Jazz Guitarist Of The Year

Romero Lubambo
Bons Amigos
Claudio Roditi

One of the things that sets Brazilian Jazz part from Afro-Cuban Jazz is the predominance of the guitar, and as a result, the style demands the presence of fine guitarists. There’s a relation to the use of guitar in traditional Brazilian music and a requirement to understand a broad swipe of jazz guitar – these guitarists need to be loaded with knowledge about a full bounty of rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic guitar approaches. There are very few guitarists that can bring these elements together in a smart, creative, and flexible fashion, but for many years, Romero Lubambo has shown these qualities at a very high level. He has asserted his abilities both as a leader and a member of Trio Da Paz, but has been recruited quite often as a sideman, as on Claudio Roditi’s Bons Amigos. Lubambo’s work on Roditi’s album overflows with the same class and style that goes along with his reputation, showing us another example of excellence in Latin Jazz guitar playing.

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2011 Latin Jazz Vocalist Of The Year

Poncho Sanchez
Poncho Sanchez & Terence Blanchard = Chano y Dizzy!
Poncho Sanchez

When most people think of iconic Latin Jazz artist Poncho Sanchez, they picture his explosive displays of percussive virtuosity on the conga drums . . . but that’s not the whole story. Sanchez actually made his first entry into the world of performance as a singer, and even though he found the core of his musicianship in percussion, he never stopped singing. This skill has been a steady part of his Latin Jazz unit’s performances, with the inclusion of straight-ahead salsa songs in their repertoire as well as looser, more descarga based vocal tunes. His 2011 collaboration with trumpet player Terence Blanchard leaned heavily upon the group’s jazz side, paying tribute to Chano Pozo and Dizzy Gillespie. While Sanchez contributed this vocal talents to the album more sparsely, he brought that great rhythmic edge to vocal melodies on several tracks, capturing the imagination of LJC readers.

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For the inside scoop on the awards and continuing info on everything happening in the Latin Jazz world, sign up for the LJC newsletter through the form below:

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