“Latin Tinges in Modern Jazz” – a playlist by Bob Hecht

February 13th, 2024

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“Solea” from Miles Davis’ 1960 Columbia album Sketches of Spain is one of many songs on a playlist curated by Bob Hecht that demonstrates Latin music’s influence on modern jazz

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Latin Tinges in Modern Jazz

A playlist assembled by Bob Hecht

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…….Some years ago my dear friend Joe Maita, creator and publisher of  Jerry Jazz Musician, initiated a jazz listening group here in Portland, Oregon. A small group of us get together periodically to share our experiences of listening to a particular theme or genre of jazz we chose to study, whether that of an individual artist or composer, a regional focus or a historical aspect of the music. It’s been an ongoing enriching, educational, friendship-building experience, and I encourage readers to try to put together their own such focused group.

…..Recently, one of our members, Paul Morris (also an occasional contributor to JJM) chose the theme of Latin Jazz. In his introduction, he quoted jazz writer Ben Ratliff from a JJM interview Paul conducted in 2003, in which Ratliff said: “One of the ways jazz is heading right now is that it is ‘Latinizing,’ just as our country is.”

…..Certainly, that is a true observation. And yet, as I dove into this genre, what struck me, first, is how the Latin influence has been present since the beginnings of jazz. Jelly Roll Morton famously stated: “Now in one of my earliest tunes, ‘New Orleans Blues,’ you can notice the Spanish tinge. In fact, if you can’t manage to put tinges of Spanish in your tunes, you will never be able to get the right seasoning, I call it, for jazz.”

…..In W.C. Handy’s 1914 “St. Louis Blues,” he employed Cuba’s habanera rhythm in the 16-bar bridge. In 1930, Louis Armstrong recorded the Cuban popular melody “The Peanut Vendor.” Ellington recorded “Caravan” and “Perdido” in the 30s, both composed by his Puerto Rican trombonist Juan Tizol. In the 40s, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker explored Afro-Cuban music, setting the stage for its further embrace in modern jazz.

…..Since then, we have seen the pervasive infusion of Latin rhythms in original jazz compositions and in the treatment of many jazz standards. And, of course, one of the most prominent manifestations of this has been the influence of Brazilian music in jazz.

…..I have been amazed at how many major mainstream modern jazz composers and players have been affected by the wide variety of “Latin” forms of music, including Thelonious Monk, Horace Silver, Wayne Shorter, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bud Powell, Sonny Rollins, Freddie Hubbard, Kenny Barron, Joe Henderson, Herbie Hancock, etc.

…..I personally have found such syntheses of modern jazz and Latin rhythms more pleasing to my ears than the “purist” sounds of true Latin proponents of the music, e.g., Bauza, O’Farill, Machito, Puente, Candido, Pozo, etc., whose “ryhthm-forward” approaches often strike me as more “mechanical” than flowing.

…..As a result of all my listening, I have assembled a playlist of some of my favorite modern jazz tracks evidencing a variety of Latin influences. It’s a long playlist, a deep dive intended to be sampled over days or weeks. It has been thrilling for me to hear the breadth and depth of the “Latinizing” effect on this music we love.

…..Here is “Latin Tinges in Modern Jazz,” a nine-hour long Spotify playlist featuring songs by the likes of Horace Silver, Lee Morgan, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Ahmad Jamal, Dizzy Gillespie, and so many others.

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This playlist was assembled by Bob Hecht, who frequently contributes his essays, photographs, interviews, playlists and personal stories to Jerry Jazz Musician. He has a long history of producing and hosting jazz radio programs; his former podcast series, The Joys of Jazz,  was the 2019 Silver Medal winner in the New York Festivals Radio Awards. In addition, he is a widely published fine art photographer, whose work has appeared multiple times in The Sun, LensWork, Black & White Magazine, Zyzzyva and other periodicals, as well as in the book, Dream of Venice in Black & White, published by Bella Figuera Publications. He lives with his wife in Portland, Oregon. His photo website is roberthecht.com.

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In addition to putting together great playlists, Bob has conducted several fine interviews for Jerry Jazz MusicianClick here to read his interview with Pepper Adams biographer Gary Carner.  Click here to read “Life in E Flat” – a conversation about Phil Woods – with pianist Bill Charlap and jazz journalist Ted Panken, and click here to read his interview with Alyn Shipton, author of The Gerry Mulligan 1950’s Quartets.

Click here to view all playlists published on Jerry Jazz Musician

 

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