The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts on September 10, 1999 · 127
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The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts · 127

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Friday, September 10, 1999
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127
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THE BOSTON GLOBE FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 1999 ; ;F15 , Rlusic Christina Aguilera fT www.blgnoluonow.com Jazz Notes Hilario Duran: key player in Cuban piano ByBobBlumenthal GLOBE CORRESPONDENT Chucho Valdes and Gon-zalo Rubalcaba have become major figures in American jazz, while senior citizens Ruben - Gonzalez and Alfredo Rodriguez are celebrated as living legends on the world music circuit. But a complete picture of Cuban piano greats must include Hilario Duran, who has been E ! based in Toronto of late and is com- ; ing to Scullers on Tuesday as part of ; Jane Bunnett's band Spirits of Ha-" vana. ; "I had been working a lot in Can-; ada, visiting to play with Jane," ; Duran explained in a conversation from New York this week. "Almost - three years ago, I decided to move. Living in Canada is better for many reasons, including the freedom to travel and the greater information available about the arts in general. I 'I have my own band, sometimes a " quartet and sometimes a trio, and t Jane and I still work together a lot." t Like many Cuban jazz musicians, Duran's had the benefit of a music- oriented family and conservatory training. "I got a lot of influence from my family's huge record collection, which contained all kinds of classical music, jazz, and film soundtracks. One of the first jazz pianists who impressed me was Erroll Garner, though I also loved Cubans like ,., Ernesto Lecuana. Later came Chucho Valdes, Herbie Hancock, and Chick Corea. And like all Cuban musicians, not just the pianists, I received lengthy training, eight or nine years in music school. When we finish we are well prepared. There is more emphasis on improvisation now, an opening to jazz and popular I S music that has resulted because of the many musicians from outside who are coming to Cuba to study. But there are still no regular jazz programs. Chucho and I do occasional workshops, though most of the Cubans who want to learn jazz still CD Review Aguilera shows her potential to be more than just marketing By Joan Anderman GLOBE CORRESPONDENT On paper, Christina Aguilera sounds a whole lot like one more little dot on pop music's connect-the-dots teen-dream page. Here's the resume: 12th-grader with bare midriff and "Melrose Place" hair sings sultry dance-pop tunes. Alumna of star-studded "Mickey Mouse Club" class of '93, with Britney Spears, J.C. and ,1 Justin from 'N Sync, and "Felic- ity"'s Keri Russell. Fashionably ; Latin surname (her father is Ecua- dorean) offers unbelievable cross- marketing potential. : Slam-dunk. Drooling executives ; at RCA snapped Aguilera up, spent ' ' a year fine-tuning her clothes, hair, makeup, and material, and - sur--.' prise, surprise - the 18-year-old songbird has a smash hit "Genie in a Bottle," which spent five weeks this ir summer at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, is a pulsing R & B tune that plays like a sonic transliteration of Aguilera s much-photographed pout. 'You gotta rub-the the right way," the singer implores in a breathy vamp, suggesting that nothing less than her chastity is at stake. Z. Now there's something adoles- cents and record-company vice presidents can really get excited - about The big surprise, however, is that Aguilera's eponymous debut CD - which opened at No. 1 on the Bill- board charts this week - is some- thing that the rest of us can get ex- cited about, too. That's not to sug- gest that these 12 tracks form a co-i hesive, gratifying body of work. Ar- tistically speaking, there's more . promise than actual delivery, mainly " ' because Aguilera's songs sound like " they just rolled off the assembly line. In other words, the Christina Team at RCA would very much like a return on its hefty investment, and dance-pop formulas are as predictably lucrative as they are musically y predictable. The songs range from inspirational power ballads like "I Turn to You" (one of two' tracks by the-one-woman hit factory Diane "Warren) to cliche-ridden confections i riff The Cuban pianist comes to Scullers on Tuesday. do it by getting the records." Duran had the added advantage of international touring. "I spent nine years with Arturo Sandoval, and I have been traveling for more than 20 years. That has given me the opportunity to share the stage with many great musicians. The chance to play and tour with Dizzy Gillespie before he died was very important, and jamming with Michel Legrand, Herbie Hancock, and Bobby McFer-rin in Nice was also memorable." Duran's most important connection was with the Canadian soprano saxophonist and flutist Bunnett and her husband, trumpeter Larry Cramer, whom he met in 1991. ! I Christina Aguilera's voice and delivery promise musical depth. ("Come On Over All I Want Is You" and "Love Will Find a Way") to the paint-by-numbers cadences of "Reflection," originally recorded for the soundtrack to Disney's animated film "Mulan." While the tunes are at times painfully familiar and overtly skewed toward the teen market, Aguilera's singing soars above the fray. Where Spears comes off as a quick study who can mimic serviceable licks and carry a tune, Aguilera is a real singer. Mariah, Whitney, and Celine all come to mind; Aguilera is similarly blessed with the sort of breathtaking elasticity, golden tones, and sheer power that separate the divas from the dabblers. But unlike Mariah Carey, to whom she'll draw the most comparisons, Aguilera displays vocal gymnastics that are fleshed out by feel -not just for expertly navigating a feci " kr: i' "They were doing their 'Spirit of Havana' recording, and my friend Gil-hermo Barretto was working with them on the arrangements and production. He recommended me for the album, and that gave me an opportunity to share music with two other great Cuban pianists, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and the late Frank Emi-lio Flynn. After that, I was concentrating on my own project Perspec-tiva, where I was playing synthesizers; so it wasn't until 1994 that Jane and I got together again for a tour in France. "When I returned to Cuba from that tour, I decided to start my own solo career and focus more on the pi- V melody, but for navigating a lyric with subtlety and passion. On "Obvious" - a lovely, bittersweet ballad and the most sophisticated track -Aguilera's delivery is at once sweet and unsettled. She bundles the innocent delirium of infatuation with the aching fear that her feelings will show, and shuttles between the two with a breadth of emotion rare in someone so young. Ironically, the most powerful element about the song is that - for all her youth-defying vocal prowess - Aguilera paints a vivid portrait of what it feels like to be 18 years old. She accomplishes a similar feat on "What a Girl Wants," a breezy celebration of patience in the pursuit of self-discovery. Here's hoping Aguilera's handlers let her grow up to discover what it's like not just to be a successful siwrer but to sing great rones. ano. That-led to more work with Jane and Larry, who produced my three CDs for the Justin Time label in Canada, and now I'm the musical director of Jane's Spirits of Havana group." "Habana Nocturna," Duran's new album, features Bunnett, drummer Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez, and a string quartet "The record is a jazz record," Duran emphasized, "but when you play Latin jazz and add strings, you can do many other things - danzon, the charanga style that was popular in the '50s, even European influences. The strings let me explore my Cuban roots as well as American music." hints Discover undiscovered local talent. Take a break from the smoky club scene and check out the latest sounds from a place that never runs out of toilet paper. Download and play back any track for free. rZrl u N D CHOICE Thli week, our clubs will host pome of the best pianists to emerge in the past decade, primarily as sidemen (Hilario Duran with Jim Bunnett, Brace Earth with Dominique Lido) or in co-ops (Danifo Perei with Roy Hayaet and John PatHucd). Erie Rood, who is at the Regattabar on Wednesday, has the distinction of arriving with his own trio. Reed emerged a decade ago as Marcus Roberts's teenage replacement in the Wynton Marsalis septet, and has proven his inventiveness and versatility in Living in North America has given Duran an even keener appreciation of the two musical worlds he inhabits. "To learn to play Cuban music, the most important thing is the rhythm," he said, "and Americans have to work hard to absorb Cuban rhythms, because we think of rhythm differently. As for me, after playing so much jazz lately, I'm working hard at getting to my own roots. Jazz, North American jazz, is still something of a new world, though - especially for someone like me who wants to play it well." Good Ufa Jan - The Good Life Downtown (that's the original Kingston Street location, as opposed to the new St Botolph Street branch) is inaugurating a new Thursday-Saturday live-jazz schedule. Vocalist Karen Parker will perform today and each Friday at 9 p.m., Darin Ames will sing with his Little Big Band tomorrow and each Saturday at 10 p.m., and a different band will appear each Thursday, with Fascina-tin' Rhythms (featuring bassist Jim Gutman and guitarist Jon Damian) this week. Other week moments - Tonight-tomorrow: Ronnie Earl (Regatta-bar), Al Vega with Cassandre Mc-Kinley or Shawnn Monteiro (Cafe Italia). Tonight: Roy HaynesDanilo PerezJohn Patitucci (Scullers), Mark Elf (Ryles), Hiro Honshuku's A-NO-NE (Bob the Chefs), David Arteaga (Acton Jazz Cafe), Jim Por- for Check out the best in local music from various MarsalisLincoln Center projects and under his own name. His new Verve album, "Manhattan Melodies," ? is primarily a trio outing and features pereuasively offbeat arrangements of such familiar ' titles as "Autumn in New York," "The 59th Street Bridge Song," and "New York, New York." The rhythm section Reed is bringing - bassist Barak Mori and drummer Rodney firooa - is less seasoned than the Reginald VealGregory Hutchinson unit ' on the CD, and so will also -provide a chance to gauge Reed's leadership abilities. Bob Blumenthal cella (Luciano's, Wrentham). Tomorrow: Philippe Crettien (Center for the Arts, Natick), Ed Jones (Bob the Chefs), Paul CombsJay Ford, (La Boniche, Lowell). Monday: Patrice Williamson for 'GBH Jazz at Harbor Park, on Fan Pier near the federal courthouse (5:30 p.m.). Tuesday: Dominique Eade with Bruce Barth, Mick Goodrick, Ed Howard, and Billy Hart (Regattabar); Kubota Power Jazz Orchestra salutes Duke Ellington (Ryles); Riverboat Stompers (Sherborn Inn); Tim Ray (Casa Vec-chia, Salem, N.H.); Bob Nieske trio live (WGBH-FM, 89.7, 9 p.m.). Wednesday: Eliades Ochoa, one of the "Buena Vista Social Club" 'artists, and his Cuarteto Patria (House of Blues). Thursday: New York Voices (Regattabar, through Saturday); Arturo Sandoval (Scullers); Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore with Wally Shoup and Toshi MaMhara, plus Saturnalia (Old Cambridge Baptist Church); new Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center administrator Shelley Neill sings with a trio featuring Laszlo Gardony, in celebration of her new Cobalt Blue CD "Music Sweet Music" (Ryles);. Leo Stevens's Jazz Report (Bobfthe Chefs, through Friday). Congrats - To Curtis Fuller, Benny Golson, and Houston educator Robert Morgan, who will receive honorary doctorates at the Berklee .College Entering Student Convocation on Tuesday. your desktop. http:mp3.boston.com P8: MM

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