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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

Calle 54
Directed by Fernando Trueba
Disney 10/00 DVD/VHS Documentary
G

For many years St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Manhattan held jazz vesper services at five o'clock on Sunday evenings. Well-known artists including Duke Ellington performed there. The minister in charge of the service made the connection between the Spirit blowing in the wind and the improvisatory riffs of these musicians. It was a fine and fitting comparison, one that came to mind during the opening sequences of this cinematic tribute to Latino jazz.

Academy Award winning director Fernando Trueba (Belle Epoque) has fashioned a musical journey that celebrates the rhythmic vitality, passion, and creativity of this musical genre. Visiting various artists in New York City, San Juan, Havana, and Andalusia, the director opens our eyes to the incredible diversity of Latino jazz. In the recording studio, these artists don't hold anything back in the expression of their souls.

Watch the godfather of Latino music, Tito Puente, ride on a wave of sound as he performs "New Arrival" on timbales and vibraphone. Savor the exquisite artistry of barefoot Brazilian pianist Eliane Elias. Let your senses luxuriate in the stew of sounds created by Chano Dominguez as he blends jazz with flamenco. Watch closely the sensitive interplay between pianists Bebo Valdez and his son Chucho as they play a lively duet. Marvel at the melodiousness of the tenor sax of Argentinian Gato Barbieri, Grammy winner for The Last Tango in Paris soundtrack. Trueba loves Latino jazz and this inspiring musical documentary beautifully reflects his appreciation and wonder.

 

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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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