Emerging Artist Series: Carolina Calvache Quartet - Innovative, original jazz, influenced by Colombian rhythms. Featuring saxophonist, Jaleel Shaw

photo by Emra Islek

The Vermont Jazz Center will present Colombian pianist, Carolina Calvache, performing as part of our Emerging Artist series. This young artist has all the qualifications that the VJC is celebrating in this series: she is launching her first CD with a major jazz label (Sunnyside), she is a creative composer, she is highly accomplished on her instrument. She is a rising star in the eyes of both critics and peers and she is traveling with her own band. Her musicians have studied and performed her complex material and are able to transcend its technical demands and add to the beauty of her vision. These musicians are Jaleel Shaw on saxophone, Yasushi Nakamura on acoustic bass and Rodrigo Recabarren on drums.

Carolina Calvache is from Cali, Colombia. She is deeply connected to her native roots. This is apparent from her repertoire, the musicians she chooses to play with and her absorption of a sophisticated rhythmical palette that freely borrows from the Colombian musical landscape. She says that the places she's lived have deeply influenced her sound. First, growing up in Colombia, second, going to music school at the esteemed University of North Texas and then coming to New York to work with her mentor, Luís Perdomo. In New York she has become immersed in the community of jazz musicians, become a regular at jam sessions and has earned the admiration of other aspiring artists.

When not playing jazz standards at jam sessions or as a side-woman on other musician's gigs, Carolina focuses on her composing and performing and the development of her own concepts. This is clearly evident on her beautiful first recording, Sotareño, which displays elements of Texas, New York and Colombia. She says, "I was looking for a different kind of sound. Some of the songs are traditional Colombian folk melodies, arranged in a way that incorporates a contemporary jazz sound. I have been greatly influenced by the way in which Miguel Zenon has transformed Puerto Rican songs. My arrangements will hopefully turn people on to the beautiful songs that are important for my country and important for me personally." Carolina elaborated on her arranging and writing, "The song needs to be lyrical. I feel that even instrumental melodies need to sound like they are singing, like they have lyrics even if they don't. [For me] to respect a song, there's got to be a melody and a flow. Then there's the harmonic part, this is about using different colors so that it doesn't sound like a I IV V folk song. I am looking to create arrangements where the melody flows and the colors are varied. Listen to my version of Sotareño on Youtube and hear the melody. Then listen to the folkloric versions of the piece. It is a Colombian folksong - I'm honest with the melody, even though the harmony and rhythm of the line might change, the arrangement still holds honestly to the essence of the song."

Carolina has invited Jaleel Shaw with her to perform at the Vermont Jazz Center. Many in this region remember Jaleel's astounding appearance with Roy Haynes back in 2005 at the Latchis Theater. She was introduced to Jaleel through Luís Perdomo after asking him who has a "crazy, amazing sound" on alto. "Jaleel came to my recording session and loved the challenge, it was new for him; he was happy to be a part of the project. Everything he has added has been at a very high level." Shaw continues to perform with Roy Haynes, the Mingus Big Band and is active as a leader with his own quartet and quintet.

Bassist Yasushi Nakamura was playing with trombonist Marshall Gilkes when Carolina first heard him. "Yasuki, is amazing: he helps me feel confident, his sound is great, his timing is excellent, he knows the style. I saw him and had to have him in my band." He has performed with Clarence Penn, Frank Kimbrough, Wynton Marsalis, Hank Jones and many others.

The drummer of the group is Rodrigo Recabarren. Carolina says, "I've been playing with Rodrigo for the last year, he knows my music. Because he's from Chile, Rodrigo and I share a rhythmical understanding, like the use of odd meters and changes of meters within the songs. He makes complex rhythms sound easy, like water! Latin American music is all about the combination of 3 and 2, that's what I love. Even though we are from different countries, we share all those things. For example the Colombian Bambuco is similar to a Chilean form called the Cueca."

When asked to discuss her upcoming trip to Vermont with her quartet, Carolina laughed and said, "This is my first time in Vermont, I'm very excited. This is also the first concert celebrating the release of my new recording. It makes me very happy that I can bring people that I like to launch my CD in a new place, different from NY. This is very special."

The VJC audience is fortunate to have the opportunity to listen to the Carolina Calvache Quartet featuring Jaleel Shaw as part of the Emerging Artist Series. The concert will take place on Saturday, April 5th at 8:00 PM. This performance is made possible thanks to generous financial support from Diana Bingham as well as ongoing support from the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, The Hampton Inn of Brattleboro and VPR and WFCR.

Saturday, April 5th
8:00 PM
Vermont Jazz Center
General Admission $10.00, Students $5.00
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