HomeMusicThe Bassist Carlos Henriquez Covers All of the Latin and Jazz Bases

The Bassist Carlos Henriquez Covers All of the Latin and Jazz Bases


As he labored his method by way of a rice bowl at a Japanese restaurant close to Columbus Circle in Manhattan on a latest afternoon, the bassist, composer and arranger Carlos Henriquez mirrored on the lengthy historical past of Latino musicians within the jazz world.

“In the Nineteen Twenties, there was a bassist and tuba participant referred to as Ralph Escudero who used to play with W.C. Handy and Fletcher Henderson,” he stated, arching his manicured eyebrows for emphasis. “We’ve all the time been a part of this. So, I’m going to say, Hey, I’m from the South Bronx, I’m Puerto Rican and I like jazz.”

Henriquez, who will lead an all-star band on May 5-6 in a centennial tribute to the mambo kings Tito Puente and Tito Rodríguez at Jazz at Lincoln Center, was about to affix a rehearsal for the establishment’s annual gala. Dressed down in a grey plaid flannel shirt and darkish bluejeans, he took his place at his pivotally positioned bassist’s chair because the orchestra practiced requirements — the theme this yr was “American Anthems” — together with Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

“I’ve all the time visualized the bass because the catcher of a baseball group — we see every thing, the entire sport,” he stated. “That catcher is coping with every thing that’s coming in and calling the performs. We, the bass gamers, can actually decide the place the music goes to, the place the idea goes.”

Over about 25 years as an expert musician, Henriquez has developed a status as a grounded however wildly imaginative composer and participant. “Carlos has turn into a grasp of his instrument and writing preparations,” stated the timbalero José Madera in a telephone interview from his house in Colorado. “He’s grown, he’s left the planet, he’s in outer area someplace.”

Henriquez’s path from the streets of Eighties Mott Haven within the Bronx to the Jazz at Lincoln Center stage was sparked partly by an encounter as a teen with the group’s director, Wynton Marsalis. “When I used to be a child, the Jazzmobile used to return to St. Mary’s Park throughout the road from the Betances Houses, the place I grew up,” Henriquez stated, referring to the moveable stage that brings jazz to New York neighborhoods. “I bear in mind Clark Terry and David Murray performed, and in addition Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Larry Harlow.”

Henriquez stated his father, who labored at a V.A. hospital, was given cassettes by his African American buddies. “One day he gave me a tape with Bill Evans, Eddie Gomez and Paul Chambers, and I used to be freaking out — I used to be like, man, that is killing.”

At first, Henriquez performed the piano, after which switched to classical guitar, which landed him within the Juilliard School’s music development program whereas he attended the performing arts highschool LaGuardia. He switched to bass in his second yr‌ at Juilliard, and received first place in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington competitors for highschool bands. At 19, he joined the Wynton Marsalis Septet and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

“I began going to Wynton’s home religiously, and we exchanged details about Latin music, one thing we do to this present day,” Henriquez stated. “And vice versa. If I need assistance with classical music or one thing, he’ll assist me out.”

During a question-and-answer session at Essentially Ellington in 2019, Marsalis praised his protégé: “Every night time this man is coming to swing,” he stated, addressing a roomful of jazz hopefuls. “He gave me a one other complete method of understanding music,” Marsalis added. Describing a second when Henriquez provided a critique on a bit Marsalis had written, the trumpeter recalled the bassist saying, “It’s all on the improper beat.’”

For Henriquez, the important thing to fusing Afro-Cuban rhythms and jazz is discovering a technique to get the sensation of swing to evolve to the five-beat clave rhythm. “It’s not simply imagining ‘The Peanut Vendor’ as performed by John Coltrane,” he stated. Henríquez credit Manny Oquendo’s Conjunto Libre and the Fort Apache Band, which was headed by the Bronx brothers Andy and Jerry González, as “non secular leaders.”

As a session bassist, Henriquez has performed with Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Lenny Kravitz, Natalie Merchant, the bachata group Aventura and the Cuban jazz pianists Chucho Valdés and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. He has even toured with Nuyorican Soul, the dance-music venture led by the D.J.s Little Louie Vega and Kenny (Dope) Gonzalez. “We had DJ Jazzy Jeff spinning information onstage whereas we had been taking part in Latin grooves,” he stated.

Since 2010, when Henriquez served that yr as musical director of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s cultural trade with the Cuban Institute of Music, he has been integrally concerned within the group’s Latin jazz programming. In the previous decade, he’s been on the helm for a present that includes Rubén Blades singing jazz and salsa requirements, a Latin spin on the work of Dizzy Gillespie, and final yr’s scintillating “Monk con Clave” tribute to Thelonious Monk.

“I used to be telling them, look, there’s a much bigger image to this,” Henriquez stated of his message to the orchestra’s management. Musicians from earlier eras who’re significant to the New York scene are “not getting credit score,” or alternatives to carry out. “We want to rent these folks in order that we may not less than allow them to know that we didn’t neglect about them.”

For this week’s Puente and Rodríguez tribute, Henriquez, who performed with the Tito Puente orchestra when he was in his late teenagers, enlisted longtime Puente collaborators just like the bongo participant Johnny (Dandy) Rodríguez Jr. and Madera, and crafted a set checklist that mixes each well-known and considerably obscure tracks from the 2 luminaries.

One of Henriquez’s charms is his capability to ad-lib nuggets of Latin music and jazz historical past between songs, in quips that land someplace between stand-up comedy and a TED Talk. Asked over lunch in regards to the rumored rivalry between Puente and Rodríguez, who vied for prime billing at exhibits on the Palladium and different venues, he coolly demurred in deadpan comedian tone. The track “El Que Se Fue” (“The One Who Left”)? “Rodríguez was trashing a man,” Henriquez stated, “but it surely wasn’t Tito Puente.”

The Puente centennial has additionally occasioned a tribute and artwork exhibit at Hostos Community College within the Bronx; a vinyl reissue on Craft Recordings of “Mambo Diablo,” Puente’s 1985 jazz album, which featured “Lush Life” and different jazz requirements; and an occasion on the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts on May 20. Yet as a lot because the mambo period burns brightly within the spirit of Latin New York, Henriquez, whose 2021 solo album “The South Bronx Story” mined Seventies lore of widespread arson and road gang truces, continues to dig deeper into different uncared for histories.

“I’m engaged on my subsequent album and I understand, we’re proper in the midst of this neighborhood that was referred to as San Juan Hill,” he stated, referring to the world that was demolished to construct Lincoln Center. “And then I discover out, we used to reside right here, with African Americans, and Benny Carter wrote a set referred to as Echoes of San Juan Hill, and Thelonious Monk used to play right here. I got here to comprehend how helpful this neighborhood was, and I discovered this out as a result of I used to be craving to seek out my connection to jazz.

“It’s the spirits of our ancestors, and so they’re calling, you recognize?”

Content Source: www.nytimes.com


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