Friday, May 7, 2021

Ruban Blades, a salsa legend, swinging in a different direction: jazz

Ruby blade Is a famous singer, one of the emblematic singer-songwriters of 1970’s Salsa. But he is not always recognized for his accomplishments in other disciplines: He is also a Broadway and Hollywood actor, musician, Harvard Law School master graduate and one-time candidate for his native Panama president. And never say he can’t sing a swing tune like Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett.

In 72-year-old music, Blade said in a video chat from his home in Manhattan, “We are still different in many ways.” Apart from a few more savvy brownies in his beard, he hasn’t changed much, wearing his distinctive all-black clothes with a ubiquitous porkpie hat. “People think, if you’re a salesperson you’re going to do in your life. It’s like you’re a horse, running with the blinds – I don’t wear those things. For me, music is destructive, Because art is destructive. You change things. “

Blade’s ambitious new project with Panama big band leader Roberto Delgado celebrates development and cultural blending: the relationship between Afro-Cuban music and jazz. It arrives in three different packages during April: “Salswing!” “11-track album that mixes Sala classics independently such as” Paula C. “And” Tambo “jazz standards such as” Pennies from Heaven “and” They You Look Tonight “; and” Salsa Plus! “ And “Swing!, ” Who emphasize tracks from those genres.

Jazz has flowed from Blade’s work longer than many listeners realize. “Pedro Navaja,” Salsa, arguably the most popular song, is remembered as the most unusually long piece, which was initially introduced by the radio industry. According to Blades, a trio of heavyweight radio DJs told him that “Symbra, ” It was featured on the 1978 album, which he recorded with Trombonist and arranger Willie Cologne, Will ruin Cologne’s career. The song was actually taken from “Mac the Knife” of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weil’s “The Murp the Opera”. The blades were born by the bronx Bobby Darin’s hit rendition While growing up in Panama.

“I heard that version in 1959 – I really liked the feel, the attitude, the apathy,” Blades said.

Blade’s wife, Luba mason, Likewise, when he met the eclectic jazz singer, they both appeared in Paul Simon’s short-lived musical, “The Capman,” attributed to his passion for performing music to Blades’ mother, Anoland Diaz. “She loved theater, playing piano and singing,” she said. “I was a classical pianist for 13 years and when he heard that I think it was evoking memories of him.”

Whereas Blade’s interest in English goes back to “nothing but truth”Since 1988, including Elvis Costello, Lou Reed and Sting, “Salswing!” The project had its roots in He performed in November 2014 With Wynton Marsalis’s Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

In 2010 Carlos Henriquez, musician and director of the orchestra’s cultural exchange with Cuba’s Institute of Music, said, “I’ve been drilling Witten with Afro-Caribbean music and he has grown to love it more and more.” Look at him, we can do this whole thing with Latin and swing, and the singer we should work with is Reuben Blades. “

For the 2014 show, which featured Gershwin’s song “Blade They Don’t Let Let That Away Me” as well as Hector Lavo’s Standard Blade. “El Cantante,” They started using the Spanish word “mixtura” for blending, which is a type of branding for Latin hybridity. The blend of blades symbolizes how many artists and intellectuals view Latin American culture overall – a layered set of racial and cultural influences, an identity defined by difference. He sees himself as a kind of creolized vessel of voices from Panama, Havana and New York (both city and town).

“The relationship between jazz and Afro-Cuban music is very well documented,” said Blades. The interchange of musical knowledge between New Orleans and Havana was important for the development of jazz and Afro-Cuban music. New Orleans – which is also the hometown of Marsalis – “was a melting pot of Cuban, French, Haitian, African-American, even Mexican musical influences,” Heinrich said. Ragtime jazz pianist and arranger Jelly Roll Morton said in an Alan Lomax field recording that he often played with a “Spanish tinge”, which was actually an incorporation of Cuban rhythms called habnara.

Musicians in Latin America have also played an important role in the development of jazz through the decades: the Harlem Hellfighters, a World War infantry unit that doubled as a jazz-oriented army band, about a third of Afro-Puerto Was made of portion. Recons. Afro-Cuban transplanted Mario Bauza worked with Chick Webb, Cab Calloway and Dizzy Gillespie. And avant-garde saxophonist Eric Dolphy was a Panamanian immigrant. “Louis Russell, a Panamanian pianist, was with Louis Armstrong for years,” Blade also reported.

It has become increasingly apparent that blackness is a major edge of the mixtura. Afro-Puerto Rican figures have been central in Blade’s career, and in Salsa. The Blades have described singer Cheo Feliciano as their primary influence. He praised Tito Urial Alonso as the master lyricist of the genre. And on “Selswing !,” he included “El Conade” Rodriguez, a high-energy remake of Pete’s “Tambo,” A peon for African drumming.

“The understanding of African drums enables you to play both genres,” said Heinrich.

Blade on “Salswing !,” creatively navigates the intersection between the extravagant, high-modern big band jazz and the splash-dropping salsa of the recession era. He sticks to his trademark stackato sonaro style “Contrabendo” and “Tambo” on Salsa, but on the Bolero “Yes No I Fight”, he uses “The Way You” on some high-register, Ella Fitzzald-ish skating Have a look tonight ”and“ Pennies from Heaven ”peek inside.

The album also features elegantly arranged swing standards like “Paula C”, a post-breakup chronicle about one of Blade’s first mature romances. He wrote it soon after coming to New York in the mid-70s, while he was working in the mailroom Phenia Records – known as Motown of Salsa – and an apartment rental from Leon Gast, who directed the classic Salsa documentary “Our Latin Thing”

“It was a very inspiring time in terms of creativity,” Blade recalled, citing the city’s thriving jazz and salsa scenes. “Everyone was in their best form at the time, blasting downtown punk rock, and you can still go to Tad’s Steak and get it on the cob with potatoes and corn for $ 1.99 steak.”

While the content is “on sale!” A very retrospective, Blade still currently and busily pursues projects with the singer, whom he admires. He recently concluded a track with revered Cuban singer Omara Portuando, alongside gorgeous Mexican singer Natalia LaFourcade and Argentine folk singer Leon Gicoco. And after a foregoing concert in Puerto Rico, he got the chance to pitch one of the biggest stars of global pop: Bad bunny.

“We played for three and a half hours and he showed up with his mother and his father,” Blade said. “He was very respectful not only to me, but also to his parents. And then I asked him in front of his father, ‘Listen, I have a mortgage to pay, why don’t we do anything?’ And everybody laughed. “

“They thought I was joking,” he said, “but I was not.”

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