Jesse Varela

Jesse’s Contributions


March 2002    Albums

Alma de Santiago
Jane Bunnett

Leave it to Canadian Jane Bunnett to continuously discover something new and beautiful in Cuba. Why not? Long before Ry Cooder created global Cuban fever with the phenomenon of the Buena Vista Social Club, this acclaimed flutist and soprano saxophonist had...


December 2001    Albums

Gonzalo Rubalcaba

Pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, blessed with impeccable technique and soulful ideas that draw from the Cuban traditions and the contemporary harmonies of jazz and classical music, is at a new plateau in his career with Supernova. The CD is a stellar mix of updated...


November 2001    Albums

The International Conspiracy
Greg Ribot and Cumbia del Norte

The original idea of cross-pollinating Colombian cumbia grooves with jazz belongs to Charles Mingus. His large ensemble experiment Cumbia and Jazz Fusion (Atlantic) shows the imagination of his genius. It's not known how Mingus heard this South American...


November 2001    Features

Poncho Sanchez: Straight Up

It’s a semi-cool Northern California evening in late July on opening night of the Fujitsu-Concord Jazz Festival, a musical celebration under the stars at Chronicle Pavilion, the mega-amphitheatre at the foot of Mt. Diablo in the San Francisco suburb of Concord...


October 2001    Albums

Branching Out (Expandiendo Raices)
William Cepeda and Afrorican Jazz

On the second outing with his group Afrorican Jazz, trombonist/conch-shell player/bandleader William Cepeda once again seeks to marry jazz with the traditional beats and textures of Puerto Rico. Building on ideas molded on his previous release, My Roots...


October 2001    Albums

L.A. Meetings
Arturo Sandoval

What can I tell you about Arturo Sandoval that Andy Garcia hasn't? If you're a fan of the Cuban trumpet king, this 1989 session, L.A. Meetings, is a sterling example of the fire blazing from Sandoval's horn the year prior to his defection; it has gone unreleased...


October 2001    Hearsay

Julio Padrón

Cuban trumpeter Julio Padrón’s laid-back music weaves jazz, classical and Afro-Cuban popular sounds into its fabric, which can be heard on two impressive new releases. Descarga Santa, on the Swiss label RealRhythm, is a live jam billed to Julio Padrón y...


September 2001    Hearsay

Vinicius Cantuária

The early ‘60s bossa-nova movement was a mesh of breezy Brazilian jazz and playful poetics that painted images of the “Girl From Ipanema.” While bossa nova defined the South American nation for many, it was criticized in Brazil for its passive escapism during...


July/August 2001    Albums

New Congo Square
Irvin Mayfield/Bill Summers Los Hombres Calientes

What Los Hombres Calientes-percussionist Bill Summers and trumpeter Irvin Mayfield-does on its third latest release is connect the dots between what New Orleans' fabled Congo Square once was and has become. They reopen a musical bridge between New Orleans...


June 2001    Albums

Roberto Carcasses

I love it when drummers become pianists because they bring a propulsive charge to the instrument. Just listen to how Eddie Palmieri, Omar Sosa and Roberto Carcasses manage meter and time. Carcasses, a conservatory-trained percussionist from Cuba, makes his...


June 2001    Albums

Having to Ask
Deanna Witkowski

Deanna Witkowski is a vibrant young pianist now based in N.Y.C. Her debut release, Having to Ask, presents a clear musical vision that fuses straightahead jazz with a variety of Latino and Afro grooves. Jonathan Paul and Rob Amster (bass), Tom Hipskind...


May 2001    Albums

Mambo Jazz
Bobby Matos/John Santos

Who invented the mambo? Most say it was Perez Prado, who in the 1940s was called the king of the mambo with pop hits like "Mambo #5" and "Mambo #8" that sparked an unprecedented wave of Latin dancehall fever. A big misconception is that mambo is a rhythm...


May 2001    Albums

Los New Yorkiños!
Manny Oquendo and Libre

As the chorus of one song states: "En la salsa de Nueva York como Oquendo y Libre no hay dos!" Translation: "In New York City salsa nobody equals Manny Oquendo and his crew!" Given his legendary status and longevity as a percussionist, it's true that for...


April 2001    Hearsay

Jack Costanzo

San Diego’s early ’90s groove-jazz movement rediscovered Mr. Bongo, as Jack Costanzo is known, and he began to sit in with The Greyboy All-Stars and B-Side Players. With his 2001 release Back From Havana for CuBop, Ubiquity’s jazz-Latin subsidiary, the 78...


December 2000    Albums

Live at the Blue Note
Paquito D'Rivera

This remote recording at New York City's Blue Note club captures a unique moment in the career of Paquito D'Rivera, one of the premier reed stylists of the last 30 years. With Dario Eskenazi (piano), Diego Urcola (trumpet), Oscar Stagnero (bass), Mark Walker...


December 2000    Albums

Michel Camilo/Tomatito

Ever since Miles Davis did "Concierto de Aranjuez," with those gorgeous Gil Evans tapestries, aficionados have come to know the shared harmonic feeling between flamenco and jazz. Spain, the stirring duet album by pianist-composer Michel Camilo and Spanish...

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About Jesse Varela