Jazz Caliente


Here's our periodic listing of Latin Jazz, Brazilian and Cuban music coming to Seattle, get out and enjoy!


Saxophonist Miguel Zenón has taken on some interesting projects in his career. He's a founding member of the SF Jazz Collective, a Kennedy Center jazz ambassador and the recipient of both a Guggenheim and a MacArthur fellowship.

He's also the founder of Caravana Cultural, a program designed to bring free-of-charge jazz concerts and educational presentations to rural areas of Puerto Rico. It involves both the best of New York's jazz players and young Puerto Rican musicians. 

Zenón's latest recording "Identities Are Changeable" (11/4/2014 Miel Music) is inspired by the idea of national identity as viewed or experienced by the Puerto Rican community in the United States, specifically in New York City.

B. Leyva

Guitarist Pablo Menéndez takes fusion to the next level.  His band Mezcla (meaning "mixture") blends jazz, blues, rock and several styles of Cuban and African music into one raucous, joyous expression of life.

The Rhythm That's A Way Of Living

Jun 26, 2014
Martin Cohen

Compared to American rock and roll, Afro-Cuban music sounds complicated to the point of intimidation. Sure the rhythms make you want to move, but if you stop to think about what's going on, your feet won't know what to do. And that's just the point — some rhythms are better felt than counted off. NPR's Frannie Kelley learned how easy they can be to play, once you abandon a central tenet of rock: the one.

Michael Hoefner

I had a delightful telephone chat last week with Juan de Marcos, leader of the Afro Cuban All Stars.

Known as the "Quincy Jones of Cuba," Juan de Marcos comes from a family of musicians.  His father was a well-known singer with famed tres player and bandleader Arsenio Rodriguez, and his uncle, Ruben Gonzalez, was one of Cuba's most beloved pianists.  Juan grew up with some of the finest Cuban musicians visiting and playing music in his home.


The Jazz Education Network (JEN) created a new award called  "Keepers of the Flame:  LeJENds of Latin Jazz." Presented at the annual JEN Conference in January, the award's first recipient was NEA Jazz Master Candido Camero.

Steve Korn

Pianist, composer, arranger, humorist and world traveler Bill Anschell brings his "Peru Trio" to the Art of Jazz series at the Seattle Art Museum tonight at 5:30.  It's part of the Earshot Jazz Festival.


 Latin jazz flutist Dave Valentin suffered a stroke in March 2012, and has been unable to work since then.  A benefit concert will take place tonight, Nov. 7, at the Tarrytown Music Hall in Tarrytown, N.Y.  The show will help raise funds to pay his medical expenses and basic living needs.

David Sproule

Cuban-born pianist, composer and bandleader Omar Sosa received a lifetime achievement award from the Smithsonian Associates in Washington, DC in 2003 for his contribution to the development of Latin jazz in the United States.  His latest CD Eggun (spirit guides) grew from a commission by the Barcelona Jazz Festival in 2009.  The idea was to pay tribute to Miles Davis’ seminal album, Kind of Blue, on its 50th anniversary.

Jamie Tanaka, sfjazz.org

The SFJAZZ Collective is an all-star jazz ensemble comprising eight of the finest performer/composers at work in jazz today.  Launched in 2004,  the ensemble annually performs a new list of compositions by a modern jazz master and new pieces by the Collective members.


The Cuban-born drummer/percussionist, bandleader and composer Dafnis Prieto appears at the Earshot Jazz Festival next Thursday, October 17 at the Poncho Concert Hall at Cornish College for the Arts, with his Si o Si Quartet:  Peter Apfelbaum (saxophone/melodica/caxixi), Robert Rodriguez (piano) and Johannes Weidenmueller (bass).


Oscar Castro Neves  1940-2013

A founding figure in the development of Bossa Nova, Brazilian guitarist, composer and arranger Oscar Castro Neves died on September 27. 


For the next few weeks on the Jazz Caliente blog, I'll feature previews of the Latin jazz artists appearing at this year's Earshot Jazz Festival, October 1 through November 17.

Tomoji Hirakata

Today is the birthday of two outstanding jazz artists who have years of experience in the Latin jazz format:

Anita Kalikies / yoshis.com

Opportunities to hear some wonderful live Latin music are popping up in the area this month, and also at the Earshot Jazz Festival in October and November.  Here’s a starter list, more will follow in the coming weeks:

tswartz / Flickr

Arturo Sandoval will be honored this year with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. 

“The Presidential Medal of Freedom goes to men and women who have dedicated their own lives to enriching ours,” said President Obama in a statement. “This year’s honorees have been blessed with extraordinary talent, but what sets them apart is their gift for sharing that talent with the world. It will be my honor to present them with a token of our nation’s gratitude.”


Pianist and composer Cedar Walton died this week, at the age of 79.

He was perhaps best known for his years with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers (1961-1964), where he presented some of his compositions that became jazz standards, like Ugetsu (Fantasy in D), Firm Roots, Bolivia and Mosaic.  He also recorded with John Coltrane on the famous Giant Steps album, but his alternate take of the title track was not released until a CD reissue many years later.

David Belove

Wayne Wallace is a trombonist, a five-time Grammy nominee, a respected proponent of African American-Latin music, and an accomplished arranger, educator, and composer.  His playing and recording credits are impressive, too:  Pete Escovedo, Santana, Tito Puente, Steve Turre,  Max Roach and more.  The San Francisco native took some time from his busy schedule last week to talk with me about his latest CD, Latin Jazz-Jazz Latin and an upcoming project.

Johan Broberg

Master drummer and percussionist Steve Berrios died last week at age 68. He leaves a legacy of inspirational jazz and Latin music, and a large number of devoted friends who call him their musical father.

Atael Weissman / Latin Jazz Network

This Sunday, July 28, the award-winning Spanish Harlem Orchestra presents a dance concert in the Sculpture Garden of the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, CA.

Centrum Foundation

Grammy Award winner and Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement honoree Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band return to Seattle's Jazz Alley tonight through Sunday, July 21. 

The misunderstood drum

Jul 11, 2013

The Name

What North Americans call conga drums are actually "tumbadoras." 

Lane Pederson

Looking over the list of the recently announced 2014 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters prompted me to search through the history of the awards for any Latin Jazz artists who have been so honored.


Puerto Rican-born valve trombonist Juan Tizol was a major force in Duke Ellington's orchestra.  With his classical training, an ability to transpose on the spot, skills as a copyist, sight-reader, proofreader of scores and as a composer, he was indispensable to the band.  

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Every Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m. KPLU jazz host, Robin Lloyd, presents a feature called Jazz Caleinte—a set of three Latin jazz songs that are embellished by Robin’s comments and insights into all forms of Latin and Afro-Cuban jazz.

Recently Robin hosted her first live Jazz Caliente session with vocalist, Carlos Cascante, and his band, Tumbao.


Latin Jazz pianist Hilton Ruiz died in New Orleans in 2006 from unexplained injuries.  He left behind an unfinished musical project that was to have benefited Hurricane Katrina victims.

Marco Matute has launched a PledgeMusic project that will produce the CD that Hilton intended, along with a documentary film about Hilton Ruiz.  Here's a preview of the film.  And here's some of Hilton's music:


To be released this spring (date TBD): Gonzalo Rubalcaba's Volcan

This band is comprised of musical masters, experienced bandleaders and good friends:  Jose Armando Gola-bass, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez-drums, Giovanni  Hidalgo-congas and Gonzalo Rubalcaba-piano.

Kathleen Gillette

Two upcoming not-to-be missed performances of Latin jazz, Seattle-style:

Thursday May 16 (tonight)  Tula's, 2214 Second Avenue  Fred Hoadley's Sonando


The Jazz Journalists annual awards for musicians were announced yesterday, May 1.  

Jazz Caliente celebrates Latin Jazz winners Luciana Souza (Best Female Vocalists), Bobby Sanabria (Best Percussionist), and Edmar Casteneda (Player of Instruments Rare in Jazz of the Year).


Jazz April birthday celebrations continue on Jazz Caliente!