Thursday, April 25, 2013

Jay D’Amico and Mark Weinstein – Tango Jazz

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“If there is any one word that could describe this CD that word would be MUSICALITY. Jay D'Amico, who for many years was a student of mine studying jazz piano as well as composition and counterpoint, has matured into a superb musical entity in his own right. His writing as well as his playing here is as masterful and profound as it gets.

The musicians performing with him are of the highest order and particularly the marvelous trumpet work of Richie Vitale is outstanding. This is one of those rare occasions in which a group of musicians, through their collective talents, have provided us with a magical and mystical musical experience worthy of much repeated listening.

The depth of the contrapuntal interplay in D'Amico's writing is brilliant and will reveal profound nuances each and every time you listen to it. Bravo gentlemen and thank you for this superb work of art...”
- Mike Longo, Jazz pianist, composer and educator

“After years of exploring African, Brazilian and Caribbean music, Weinstein saw an opportunity in tango. Playing and recording drum and percussion heavy genres limits flute players to the high register and takes away the more nuanced, expressive possibilities of the instrument.

On the other hand, playing in a drum-less setting has its own challenges.

It’s not only that there’s a different way of setting the groove and driving the music but, in tango, the melodies and the dancing, true or implied, are often what sets the tempo and its variations.”
- Fernando Gonzalez, writer, critic, and translator

Chris Di Girolamo is the owner-operator of Two for The Show Media and represents a number of familiar and new faces on the Jazz and popular music scene.

Two of his artists – Jay D’Amico and Mark Weinstein – have recently made new CD’s with a rhythmic emphasis based on and around tango beats.

The editorial staff at JazzProfiles thought it might be fun to showcase some of the music from Jay and Mark’s recent efforts for those of you interested in moving your ears in some new directions.

In each case, we have reproduced the CD cover art, Chris’ Media Relations announcement followed by an audio track from the CDs.

You can locate more information about Chris and his artists at

Jay D’Amico: Tango Caliente-Jazz Under Glass [CAP/Consolidated Artists Productions/1034] – available 4.29.2013

About Jay D'Amico:

Tango Caliente represents Jay's latest efforts at composing and interpreting his own music. "In some ways I've been influenced by various forms found in classical music and they're evident here, but other compositions on the album go beyond that." In all his compositions, Jay insists, "I always want the melody to imitate the human voice and most importantly, it always has to swing." D'Amico's sound has evolved over the years, honed in performances with his own trio and a variety of other musicians, most notably bassist and lifelong friend Milt "the Judge'' Hinton, whom the pianist credits as one of the primary influences on his career.

"Several years back, I played a few of the tracks on my earlier release, Ponte Novello, for Milt  - he'd only performed on one track on the CD - and he just smiled at me and said, 'Man, you found your niche." That niche can be described as the melodious intersection of two very distinct musical roads, which D'Amico says are actually not that diverse to his thinking. "My music is somewhat comparable to opera, in that it's sing-able, even though my compositions are obviously all instrumental. Jazz starts from that same European harmonic tradition and incorporates African rhythms. I'm just finding my own way around that," he explains.

Born into a family where music was omnipresent, the young D'Amico began to play piano when he was eight years old. Coming of age in the 1960's, D'Amico says his earliest exposure was to American popular music, from the Cole Porter tunes his mother would sing around the house, to his first experience as a performer in a rock group. Under the auspices of Art Podell of the New Christie Minstrels, D'Amico, his brother and three cousins, recorded a single which enjoyed near hit status before the vagaries of the music industry derailed them. The drive to become a pianist took a firm hold when young D'Amico heard the music of Polish-born composer and pianist, Frederic Chopin. "Actually I saw the actor Cornell Wilde portray him in a movie," he remembers. Later in college, his piano teacher told D'Amico that the melodies of the Italian opera were the greatest influence on Chopin's music. "I remember being surprised at that, but then I saw that the lyricism of opera, combined with the Polish mazurka and polonaise, came to create his style. I thought, 'I want to be able to do the same thing, to play it all!'"

An early Oscar Peterson performance on television, during which his mother told him "This is jazz and they're making it up as they go along," also resonated strongly with the burgeoning young performer and composer. D'Amico first met Milt Hinton in 1974 in a jazz workshop, and the two immediately took to each other so strongly that within a short time D'Amico started teaching the workshop with Hinton. Their collaboration as educators would last for some 18 years, until 1992. Hinton joined his protégé on D'Amico's recording debut in 1982, Envisage, which also featured drummer Bob Rosengarden (it was re-released on CD in 2003.)

In addition to Milt Hinton, another musician whose influence D'Amico cites as key is Mike Longo, established pianist and musical director for many of Dizzy Gillespie's bands. Longo's CAP Records has released all four of D'Amico's CD releases. From 1984 through September 10, 2001, D'Amico performed as the Pianist in Residence at New York's Windows on the World. In 1990, he released the solo recording, From the Top. Recording with a trio comprised of bassist Ben Brown and drummer Ronnie Zito, he released Ponte Novello in 2001. The CD featured D'Amico's original compositions along side the pianist's arrangements of arias by Puccini, Verdi and Bellini. He has also appeared on Hinton's The Judge's Decision (1985) both as pianist and co-composer.

For bio, tour dates, and more information on Jay D'Amico go to:

"If you are one that thinks "delicate" when they hear 'flute,' forget that. Weinstein's approach is full-bodied and surging and loaded with swagger and swing."
- Mark Keresman, Jazz Improv

"Mark Weinstein has quietly established himself as one of the most wildly inventive flutists in modem memory."
- Raul d'Gama Rose,
"Flautist Mark Weinstein has always been a brave and cutting edge musician."
- Ken Dryden,

About Mark Weinstein:

Flutist, composer and arranger, Mark Weinstein began his study of music at age six with piano lessons from the neighborhood teacher in Fort Green Projects in Brooklyn where he was raised. Between then and age 14 when he started to play trombone in Erasmus Hall High School, he tried clarinet and drums. Playing his first professional gig on trombone at 15, he added string bass, a common double in NYC at that time.

Mark learned to play Latin bass from Salsa bandleader Larry Harlow. He experimented playing trombone with Harlow's band and three years later, along with Barry Rogers, formed Eddie Palmieri's first trombone section, changing the sound of salsa forever. With his heart in jazz, Weinstein was a major contributor to the development of the salsa trombone playing and arranging. He extended jazz attitudes and techniques in his playing with salsa bands. His arrangements broadened the harmonic base of salsa while introducing folkloric elements for authenticity and depth. The only horn in a Latin jazz quintet led by Larry Harlow at the jam session band at Schenks Paramount Hotel in the Catskills, soloist and arranger with Charlie Palmieri in the first trumpet and trombone salsa band in NYC, arranger and featured soloist along with the great Cuban trumpet player Alfredo Chocolate Armenteros in Orchestra Harlow, and with the Panamanian giant Victer Paz in the La Playa Sextet, and with the Alegre All Stars, Mark's playing and arranging was a major influence on Salsa trombone and brass writing in the 60s and 70s.

Mark continued to record with Eddie Palmieri, with Cal Tjader and with Tito Puente. He toured with Herbie Mann for years, played with Maynard Ferguson, and the big bands of Joe Henderson, Clark Terry, Jones and Lewis, Lionel Hampton, Duke Pearson and Kenny Dorham. In 1967 he wrote and recorded the Afro-Cuban jazz album, Cuban Roots for the legendary salsa producer Al Santiago. It revolutionized Latin jazz; combining authentic folkloric drum ensembles with harmonically complex extended jazz solos and arrangements. Chick Corea was on piano and the rhythm section included the finest and most knowledgeable Latin drummers: Julito Collazo, Tommy Lopez Sr. and Papaito (timbalero with La Sonora Matancera)

In the early 1970's Mark took time off from music to earn a Ph.D in Philosophy with a specialization in mathematical logic. He became a college professor and remains so until this day. When he returned to the music scene in 1978 playing the flute, he wrote produced and recorded the Orisha Suites with singer Olympia Alfara, the great Colombian jazz pianist Eddy Martinez and percussionists Steve Berrios, Julito Collazo, Papaito and Papiro along with an Afro-Cuban chorus. Unreleased until recently, music from the Orisha Suites became the theme for Roger Dawson's Sunday Salsa Show on WRVR.

Mark returned to jazz with a vengeance, working gigs and recording over a dozen CD's since 1997. Seasoning, his first flute CD experimented with different settings for the flute, including a quartet with vibist Bryan Carrott and Cecil Brooks III on drums and a trio of flute and two guitars with Vic Juris and Rob Reich. In 1998, Mark recorded Jazz World Trios with Brazilian master guitarist Romero Lubambo and award winning percussionist Cyro Baptista. Their exploration of Brazilian themes with classical guitar and percussion contrasted with a freebop trio with Santi Debriano on bass and Cindy Blackman on drums. Jean Paul Bourelly and Milton Cardone completed the set with music based on Santeria themes.  The release of Three Deuces in 2000, paired Mark with guitarists Vic Juris, Ed Cherry and Paul Meyers.

Because of limited distribution and more demand than albums available, Mark rerecorded the material from the original Cuban Roots with new arrangements and the help of such giants of Cuban music as pianist Omar Sosa, percussionists Francisco Aquabella, Lazaro Galarraga, John Santos, Jose De Leon, and Nengue Hernandez. It was co-produced with his nephew, trombonist, violinist and arranger Dan Weinstein for Michael McFadin and CuBop Records.

In 2002 Mark had the incredible opportunity to go to Kiev, Ukraine, where his father was born, to record the music of the Ukrainian composer Alexey Kharchenko. Milling Time, the record that they made, stretched his playing in a number of directions, from modern classical music to smooth jazz to Ukrainian folk music. He continued his exploration of his roots with a jazz album of Jewish music with Mike Richmond on bass, Brad Shepik on guitar and Jamey Haddad on drums and percussion. He then turned to Brazil and the music of Hermeto Pascoal's Calendario do Som, entitled Tudo e Som with guitarist and vocalist Richard Boukas, Nilson Matta on bass, Paulo Braga on drums and Vanderlei Pereira on percussion.

In 2005 he began his ongoing association with Jazzheads record recording another version of Cuban Roots called Algo Mas, with Jean Paul Bourelly playing electric guitar, Santi Debriano on bass, Thelonious Monk award winning percussionist and vocalist Pedrito Martinez, as well as Nani Santiago, Gene Golden and Skip Burney on congas and bata drums. His next release on Jazzheads was 0 Nosso Amor with Brazilian jazz masters Romero Lubambo, Nilson Matta and Paulo Braga along with percussionists Guilherme Franco and Jorge Silva. This was followed by Con Alma, a Latin Jazz album featuring Mark Levine on piano, Santi Debriano on bass, Pedrito Martinez playing conga and drummer Mauricio Hererra. Next a straight-ahead album, Straight No Chaser, with guitarist Dave Stryker, bassist Ron Howard and Victor Lewis on drums. A return to Brazilian music, Lua e Sol, saw Romero Lubambo and Nilson Mata joined by award winning percussionist Cyro Baptista.

Mark took time out from Jazzheads to record an album for Ota records in Berlin with Grammy nominated pianist Omar Sosa playing vibes, marimbas and piano along with AN Keita on balafon, Mathais Ogbukoa and Aho Luc Nicaise on African percussion, bassist Stanislou Michalou and Marque Gilmore on drums. Back to Jazzheads, Mark recorded Timbasa with the percussion team of Pedrito Martinez and Mauricio Hererra, joined by Ramon Diaz with the young giants Axel Laugart on piano and bassist Panagiotis Andreou. This was followed by Jazz Brasil with NEH Jazzmaster Kenny Barron on piano along with Nilson Matta and drummer Marcello Pellitteri. His most recent album, El Cumbanchero was recorded with a string ensemble and arranged by Cuban piano virtuoso Aruan Ortiz, along with Yunior Terry on bass and percussionists Mauricio Herrera and Yusnier Bustamante.

For more information on Mark Weinstein go to:

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