Caribbean Jazz Project full of soul

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    By ASHLEY BAKER

    Giving as feisty a fiesta as instrumental music can offer, the Caribbean Jazz Project combines the talents of some of the best jazz music around.

    The three principals, Cuban saxophone and clarinet great Paquito D’Rivera, steel pan legend Andy Narell and vibes/marimba master Dave Samuels, are among the best jazz musicians in the world and will perform in the de Jong Concert Hall Saturday.

    “This is one of the highest powered groups to hit Provo in a long, long time,” said Ray Smith, director of Synthesis. Synthesis will open for the Caribbean Jazz Project Saturday.

    The three principals wrap themselves around the spicy grooves of Dario Eskenazi (piano), Oscar Stagnaro (bass), Luis Conte (percussion) and Mark Walker (drums).

    The Project was born at a concert in the summer of 1993 at Central Park Zoo in New York. A promoter came to Samuels, asking him to assemble some type of special event, and Samuels — who had recorded with Narell numerous times — called Narell and the man on the top of his wish list, D’Rivera.

    Samuels and company liked the way they sounded together. They honed their act with a week of shows at the Blue Note in Tokyo and signed on to do their first compact disc with Heads Up International.

    As all are renowned composers, the tune selection for their tour was highly democratic. D’Rivera has two solo tunes, Samuels also two, the team of Samuels and D’Rivera two, and Narell three.

    “It’s a melting pot of a melting pot, throwing together South of the border rhythms from Latin America, Brazil, the Caribbean, Cuba, and slowing it up for a waltz or two,” D’Rivera said.

    “Our main interest was to learn from each other, learn from the other guy what he may know better than you. For instance, I know the Cuban thing and have worked with lots of Brazilian musicians, but I learned the Caribbean style from Andy and picked up a lot of grooves from bassist Oscar Stagnaro,” D’Rivera said.

    “For this kind of music, you need a sense of humor. It should be fun,” D’Rivera said.

    “We have a real consensus about how we want this group to sound. We want the music to express the rhythms, the dance, the religion and the spontaneity of the moment by painting a picture that’s really a composite of all three of us,” Samuels said.

    “There was a certain immediate connection between us and our sounds,” said Narell.

    “Most of the music I play has had to pave its own road, so I was right at home in the experimental phase. The whole challenge is taking three unusual lead instruments and working out the inherent bugs which come from bringing them together,” Narell said.

    D’Rivera learned about music from his father, a classical conductor. He was performing live in his native Havana by age six. A virtuoso on clarinet as well as sax, his early professional experience found him soloing with the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra.

    Samuels is an educator who has published numerous books, videos and ensemble arrangements, as well as conducted seminars and master classes

    Tickets for the Caribbean Jazz Project are available at the Fine Arts Ticket Office or by calling 378-4322. Prices are $12 for students and $14 for general public. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. at the de Jong Concert Hall.

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