Jazz Caliente

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!


We've been celebrating Jazz April (Jazz Appreciation Month + International Jazz Day April 30) by posting birthday remembrances of the legendary jazz artists who were born this month.

Latin Jazz innovators, percussionists and bandleaders are well-represented in April too: 

(Credit: Alejandro Perez/HiRes)

Ry Cooder called him a "guitar wizard."

Jon Pareles of The New York Times wrote in 2003:  “Mr. Galbán was one of the wonders of Cuban music in the 1960s.  His playing pulled together two almost contradictory approaches: the floating reverb of surf guitar and the percussive, snapping sound of the tres, the small guitar that’s a fulcrum between rhythm and melody in Cuban son groups.”


Paulinho da Costa was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, and like many master percussionists, started exploring rhythms at a very early age.

Playing over two hundred percussion instruments, he has participated in thousands of recording sessions, Grammy Award-winning albums, hit songs, movie soundtracks, radio and television commercials.  He's collaborated with everyone from Dizzy Gillespie and Quincy Jones to Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie.


Bebo Valdes, Cuban pianist, composer, arranger and bandleader died Friday March 22, 2013.  He was 94.


A protégé of the legendary jazz master Dizzy Gillespie, a founding member of the innovative Cuban group Irakere, a renowned classical musician who performs regularly with symphony orchestras around the world:  trumpeter, pianist and composer Arturo Sandoval returns to Seattle's Jazz Alley this week.

Joe Conzo, Jr.

“If it wasn’t for the Puerto Rican community of Spanish Harlem, of the South Bronx, Afro Cuban music would never have survived in this country, and expanded to the heights that it has.”—Bobby Sanabria from the film “From Mambo to Hip Hop”


The pioneering Cuban jazz band, Irakere, nurtured some of Cuba's leading musicians who went on to gain international fame.


William Correa was born to Puerto Rican parents in Brooklyn, and was raised surrounded by music in El Barrio.  At 14 he began learning to play bongos, later graduating to conga, timbales and trap drums.  

Daniel Sheehan

Seattle is home to a number of very talented musicians whose focus is Latin Jazz.  Here are three bands well worth searching for in the clubs and concert halls of the Emerald City:

Justin Steyer / KPLU

On a recent visit to Seattle, Juan de Marcos and The Afro-Cuban All Stars stopped by for a three-song studio session with KPLU in the KCTS 9 studios.  How good was it? 

Well, as host, Abe Beeson says, “If this music doesn’t move you, you’ve got no place to go.”

Watch the full interview and performance:


The KPLU Travel Club trip to Cuba was a great success, and the days and nights were filled with music! 

Use the arrows above the picture to flip through the slide show of 15 of my music-related photos from Cuba.

Justin Styer / KPLU

Cuban bandleader, composer and arranger Juan de Marcos González is known as the "Quincy Jones of Cuba" and as the architect of the Afro-Cuban All Stars (the foundation for The Buena Vista Social Club), and the founder of another successful Cuban band, Sierra Maestra.

His father was a singer for Arsenio Rodriguez's Orchestra; his uncle was Ruben González, famed pianist for the Buena Vista Social Club.

Juan's mission is the preservation of his rich musical heritage.


Latin Jazz artists are well-represented at the new SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco, which had its grand opening this week with an all-star concert, broadcast and video streamed on public radio stations.


This native of the South Bronx grew up with jazz and Cuban music simultaneously.  Playing trumpet and conga drums, he came up in the bands of Dizzy Gillespie, Eddie Palmieri and Manny Oquendo. 

Juan Cruz / eddiepalmierimusic.com

Pianist, composer and bandleader Eddie Palmieri will be one of four National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters honored this year on Monday January 14 at Lincoln Center.

Bobby Sanabria

The nominees for Best Latin Jazz Recording for the Grammy Awards in 2013 have been announced, and the winners of the Latin Grammys have already been awarded.

This is the best of the rest, the Latin Jazz that you might have missed this year, and there are some stellar performances here.  With gratitude to Latin Jazz Network and Latin Jazz Corner, let me encourage you to explore some of the lesser-known and newer artists of Latin Jazz.


There's nothing quite like a Latin Jazz celebration of any occasion.  It's the ultimate party music!  If you're in Seattle, WA or in Oakland, CA, you can spend New Year's Eve with one of the masters of the Latin groove:

Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band at Jazz Alley, Seattle

Multiple Grammy award winner, and this year's Lifetime Achievement Award recipient from the Latin Grammys, Poncho and his band mix jazz, latin and soul for a tasty and dance-able feast.

A Cuban Christmas

Dec 20, 2012

Christmas Eve is celebrated in Cuba, not Christmas Day.  

It's called Noche Buena, and it includes food, music, dancing and gatherings.

A traditional Cuban Noche Buena feast consists of plenty of roast pig (yes, a whole one), black beans and rice, fried plantains and yucca with garlic.  To wash it all down:  mojitos, cuba libres, or a sidra (sparkling hard cider).  Desserts include rice pudding and rum cake.  I can feel the food coma starting already.

Dani Gurgel

This year's Grammy Awards will see the reinstatement of the Latin Jazz category that was deleted in the recent "consolidation" of ethnic music categories by the Recording Academy.

Nominated for 2013 Best Latin Jazz Album:

Verve Records

One of the most appealing Latin Jazz/Pop crossover artists was vibraphonist Cal Tjader (chay-der).

Gabriel Rodríguez

It's been said that Cuba and New Orleans are more than musical cousins; they are more like twins and equally responsible for much of what we call jazz.  And I've often heard New Orleans described by its multi-cultural natives as being not a Southern city, but a Caribbean city.

Bruno Bollaert, volume12

The 13th Annual Latin Grammy Awards will  air live  in the United States on the Univision Network  from 8–11 p.m. ET/PT (7 p.m. Central) tonight.

Here are the nominiees for the Best Latin Jazz Album:

Washington DC Jazz Network

The talented and versatile Latin jazz and be-bop pianist Hilton Ruiz died in June of 2006 in New Orleans.  He'd gone there to make a video to accompany a CD he'd recorded, a tribute to and benefit for the recently flooded and hurricane-ravaged city. 


The drums known as timbales are yet another example of the uniquely Cuban inclination to mix European instrumentation with African rhythms.  Timbales fuel Cuban dances like the Danzón and the Mambo, and are widely used in Salsa music, Latin jazz and rock.


Recognition for female instrumentalists in Jazz is rare enough, and it's even tougher for women in Latin Jazz. Most Latin cultures are still, shall we say, a bit chauvinistic.

Here are two women who have overcome cultural and other barriers to follow their dreams of creating music:

Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times

In my never-ending quest to learn as much as possible about the music I love, I often run across interesting books and movies that I'll occasionally share with you on Jazz Caliente.

While not specifically Latin jazz, these movies caught my eye recently, and each provides some insight into various Afro-Cuban music styles:


Mark your calendar for some great live Latin Jazz in October and November!