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Fernando Trueba presents his love affair with Latin jazz, his camera following 13 giants into the studio. Trueba drapes walls with single colors - red for Jerry González and the Fort Apache band, white for Tito Puente; his camera is close to faces, instruments, hands, and feet; bands' colors contrast with walls or their leader's clothes. Chucho Valdés does a pyrotechnic solo then joins his aged father Bebo for a subdued duet. Puntilla Ríos takes us to Africa, Chano Domínguez to a marriage of jazz and Flamenco, and Eliane Elias, her shoe-less foot on the pedal, to gorgeous and muscular elegance. With Paquito, Cachao, Patato, Chico, Gato, and Michel Camilo, we travel Calle 54. Written by
Jerry González is shown in concert repeating the names of the featured performers of the film while the screen splits into multiple part with each featuring footage and the name of each performer as the names are called out. In addition there are smaller boxes with the other bandmembers and their names seen in this film. See more »
Soundtrack in living color and live action - don't miss the rhythm of Latin Jazz
If you appreciate Latin Jazz, CALLE 54 is the film for you. Filmmaker Fernando Treuba presented all the pieces on screen each complete from the very first note to the last without any edits! Musicians get to express how they feel about the music, but this is kept to a minimum. It's not really a documentary per se like Wim Wenders' "Buena Vista Social Club". It is literally - visually - seeing the soundtrack LIVE in all its colors, and putting faces to the various musical artists featured. Of course you'd have to pick up the soundtrack (a total of 78:55 minutes worth) to thoroughly enjoy and fulfill your appetite of "Calle 54."
I was most impressed with Chucho Valdés (track 8: Caridad Amaro). His lyrical piano artistry is simply exquisite! Watching him playing - his magical fingers on the Steinway keyboard producing such tender striking rhythms, you'd forget he has such a looming physique. And it's such a treat to have a follow up session with him doing a "two piano dialogue" with his father, piano master Bebo Valdés. That was, of course, out of this world (track 12: La Comparsa) - wish it were longer!
The musical journey starts out at New Jersey with Paquito D'Rivera on the alto sax and clarinet, and his 11-person band with trumpet, guitar, piano, bass, drums, vibes, marimba, and batá drum sounds. Next is a samba from New York with Eliane Elías on the piano - barefoot on the pedals - with accompanists on bass and drums. We are treated to the blend of flamenco and jazz from Chano Dóminguez and co., with Chano's flowing piano notes, and a husky endearing vocal from "el Kejío", and a flamenco dancer in casual attire and comfy shoes equally producing the invigorating hands clapping, feet tapping Andalusian rhythm alright! We're back to the Bronx with 5-piece band sounds from Jerry González and the Fort Apache Band; Jerry's flugelhorn and congas, and the other instruments (piano, bass, drums, alto sax) are integrally conversational. Continuing is Michel Camilo delivering his piano artistry with bass and drums accompaniment. Reminiscing the sixties, Gato Barbieri gave us "Introducción, Llamerito y Tango/Bolivia" in his tenor sax, along with piano, bass, drums and percussion.
Yes, Tito Puente in his impish smile and white suit (his all stars combo also in white) provided an energetic performance as expected. Tito striking magic on his timbales and vibes, teamed with flute, piano, tenor sax, congas, and bass, all capably interchanged on timbales and cowbell to keep the rhythm a-lively! We then settle down to the superb improvisational piano solo by Chucho Valdés. Chico O'Farrill follows, conducting his big band with full orchestral sound, giving us the grand theatrical feel of Latin Jazz performed on stage with "Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite." Chucho's father Bebo Valdés' gem of a jam session with Cachao on bass is like two veteran dancers dancing the "Lágrimas Negras" - so nostalgic and impeccably smooth!
Along the dance vein, we have Puntilla and Nueva Generación, with voices, congas, batás, bass, percussion, and dance! Such lively beats! To wrap up, yes, two pianos: Chucho playing with his father Bebo Valdés. Four hands a-dancing on the Steinway keys simply transport you to a state too marvelous for words!
Enjoy CALLE 54!
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