Although they share the same last name, it's hard to imagine a less likely pairing than Luz Elena Mendoza and Sergio Mendoza.
While both have roots in Mexico, Luz Elena makes her home in the Pacific Northwest and has fronted a band called Y La Bamba. That group sets Luz Elena's deep, evocative voice against backing vocals so rich, I once described Y La Bamba's other singing members as bearded choirboys. There were direct Mexican influences in the music, but not many.
For the last two years, pianist Ethan Iverson has been at the center of what looks, in hindsight, like a serious creative whirlwind. He re-conceptualized Stravinsky's ballet The Rite Of Spring in its entirety (!) for his trio The Bad Plus, and then, for good measure, recorded an album of all-original Bad Plus music (Inevitable Western).
World-music DJ Betto Arcos is back — this time, with music he's found all over the African continent. The host of Global Village on KPFK in Los Angeles recently joined NPR's Arun Rath to discuss new albums from four different corners of Africa, including soulful songs from a prison in Malawi, dance music from Congo and a collaboration between a Malian singer and a Cuban pianist. Hear their conversation at the audio link, and check out the music below.
The Minnesota Orchestra plays Havana this weekend. It's the first professional U.S. orchestra to perform in Cuba since the United States and the island nation began the process of normalization last December. For the musicians, this trip is about healing — both diplomatically and for themselves.
Fifty years ago, the Ramsey Lewis Trio sat in a Washington, D.C. coffee shop, musing over what it could add to its set that evening. It was booked for a run at Bohemian Caverns — the group had issued a live album made at the nightclub, and it was gearing up to record a follow-up live album. Over walked a waitress, who inquired about the band's predicament.
Hope you can tune in for the next broadcast of All This Jazz, beginning at 10pm Central on Saturday the 16th --- right here on Public Radio 89.5 (KWGS-FM)...and via live-stream at PublicRadioTulsa.org.
The music of pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba is a potent mixture of Cuban and American jazz. His style sounds both melodic and rhythmic, filled with exciting and intriguing influences. He plays everything from jazz to classical, as well as music from his native Cuba.