The Jazz.com Blog
July 14, 2009 · 0 comments
Tomas Peña is a regular contributor to jazz.com, and twenty of his interviews have been featured on the site. (See the complete list here.) His special area of focus is Latin jazz, an interest which led him to check out Chembo Corniel's recent appearance in East Harlem. Peña's report is below. T.G.
Chembo Corniel and Chaworo kicked off the first in a series of concerts that pay tribute to the masters of Latin Jazz, past and present at Creole Restaurant and Music Supper Club in the heart of New York’s East Harlem.
According to Kevin Walters, the Managing Director and the driving force behind the Latin Jazz Legacy Series, which runs July through August, Chembo was one of the first artists to perform at Creole when the venue opened it’s doors 4 ½ years ago. On a more personal note, Mr. Walters should be commended for giving Latin Jazz and the artists who create it, a platform and an opportunity to showcase their talents in such a congenial atmosphere.
Chembo was also on hand to celebrate the release of Things I Wanted to Do, his third and in this writer’s opinion, most ambitious recording to date. Prior to the show, I had the pleasure of speaking with Chembo about the making of the album, which features his working group and sixteen invited guests, including Dave Samuels, Jimmy Bosch, David Oquendo, Ruben Rodriguez, John Di Martino and many others. I asked Chembo how he was able to assemble such a prestigious line up of invited guests, to which he simply replied: “They are all my buddies!”
With time running short I asked him about the inclusion of a soulful accordion on the tune, “Swing Street” (played by Ludovic Beier) and an electric guitar solo that is reminiscent of Santana on the title track. “I listened to a lot of rock when I was growing up,” said Chembo. “As for the accordion, I had a French accordionist sit in with the group and lo and behold, it worked!”
As always, Chembo—aka “The Little Giant””—makes it a point to surround himself with musicians of the highest caliber and this evening was no exception. On hand were saxophonist, Ivan Renta, pianist Elio Villafranca, bassist, Carlos DeRosa and drummer, Vince Cherico. For the most part the repertoire consisted of tunes from Things I Wanted to Do; however, the group also performed material from Chembo’s past recordings (The Rest of Your Life, Portraits in Rhythm). Standout moments included the groups rendition of Marty Sheller’s “The Sultan,” Hector Martignon’s “September Cha,” Emiliano Salvador’s “Puerto Padre” and “The New Arrival,” a tune that has become synonymous with the late, great pianist, Hilton Ruiz.
In all, it was a terriffic evening and a precursor of things to come. Stay tuned for upcoming appearances by Steven Kroon Quartet (7/17 and 7/18), The Latin Jazz All-Stars (8/7 & 8/8), A Tribute to Ray Barretto (8/21 and 8/22) and Dr. Mambo Experience and Ensemble (8/28 and 8/29).
This blog entry posted by Tomas Peña