Monday, March 24, 2008

The Cubes Are Almost Here! + R.I.P. Cachao

For fans of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, tomorrow is the second most important day of the year.

First came the official announcement of the lineup. And now (insert drum roll with Johnny Vidacovich funky backbeat here) ... the cubes! The cubes, in Festspeak, are the day/hour schedule of performers, letting you know which acts will play when.

Thankfully, these cubes have nothing to do with corporate cube farms.

Not coincidentally, the arrival of the cubes means the onset of FOMS, or Fear of Missing Something. For all the details on Jazz Fest, visit the official site; for the inside dope, check out Swagland.

This year's Jazz Fest posters will officially be unveiled tomorrow, too. I like the choices for honorees - R&B singer Irma Thomas on the "main" poster; trumpeter Kermit Ruffins on the Congo Square poster -- but I'm not crazy about the look and feel of either. IMO, Last year's Congo Square poster with tuba man Phil Frazier was gorgeous, but the fest poster with Jerry Lee Lewis was something of a bust, just too cartoony or something.

Latest fest news from Times-Picayune: click here. And, last but not least, for early planning on which clubs to hit after the fest, check out the Jazz Fest Grids.

Cachao, who passed away Saturday in Coral Gables, was one of the bass world's greats, and probably underappreciated by those outside of Latin and Latin-jazz circles. Here's the New York Times obit.

I had the privilege of hearing Cachao play and meeting him down in Miami when the Latin-jazz documentary/concert film Calle 54 had its premiere.

BTW, that DVD is a great place to see and hear Cachao, as well as such talents as father-and-son Cuban pianists Bebo and Chucho Valdes; Brazilian pianist-singer Eliane Elias; percussionist Tito Puente; saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera; trumpeter Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band; the Chico O'Farrill big band; pianist Michel Camilo; and a bunch more. For anyone interested in Latin jazz - it's a perfect primer.

Cachao graces the cover of this month's Bass Player mag (yes, I'm a regular contributor). Click here to read the story. Andy Garcia also did a doc on Cachao, which I haven't seen.

Incidentally, Cachao never played Jazz Fest, according to the handy Cube Rescue Program on Swag's Jazzfest Pages.

Related to the above: Something for You, Elias' terrific new CD is a tribute to Bill Evans, and I've just recently been listening nonstop to the forthcoming CD from Arturo O'Farrill, son of Chico.

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