More on Jazz in Mexico

More on Jazz in Mexico

by Alain Derbez
copyright © 2001 Alain Derbez

In 1960 Down Beat, it was September, something mentioned about "Jazz Below the Border." Once again, one month later, the reader received information about what was happening with jazz groups -- mainly American -- south of the Bravo River (Grande is the name in the U.S.).

Some of the boldfaces were James Petrillo, John Tranchitella, Stan Kenton and Harry James. The idea was that, blessed by the two countries' musicians unions, American jazz bands would come to Mexico and play and that Mexican jazz groups would do the same thing up there.

This never happened. At least, not thanks to the Mexican Sindicato of Musicians or the American Musicians Unions. 40 years later, and what is the situation of Mexican jazz players in U.S.A.?

Well, we can see that the Mexican drummer Antonio Sanchez is now playing in Pat Metheny's group. We can find in Boston musicians like the vibraphonist V=ECctor Mendoza and the singer Mili Bermejo. There is another singer of Mexican origin but born in California, Cecilia Engelhart, who has been working her jazz career in New York for years; there is also a woman who plays drums: Rosa Marina Avila, and a keyboard player and arranger nicknamed as El Capi (Rosino Serrano). In Texas a Mexican piano player, Olivia Revueltas, has recently recorded with the legendary Billy Higgins and, in Arizona, lives Henry West, Mexican sax player who performed for months with Don Cherry and introduced free jazz into Mexico. Who else?

What happens with great Mexican jazz players in Mexico? Why don't they appear in the American jazz scene as people from other Latin American countries do? We know about Michel Camilo, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Chucho Valdez Jr., David Sanchez, Gato Barbieri, Danilo Perez. Mexican musicians like the piano players Hector Infanzon and Francisco Tellez, the sax player Diego Maroto, the singer and keyboard player Iraida Noriega, the bass player Agust=EDn Bernal could be there, among them. Why not? Has anybody listened to guitar player Francisco Mondragon's cds with Jaco Pastorius, with Archie Shepp? Does somebody remember Mario Patron, Mexican pianist, and his group -- George Joyner on bass and Ed Shaughnessy on drums -- at the great 1956 edition of the Newport Jazz Festival? What happens with Mexican jazz upstairs?

. . . Let us find out later. In the meantime, let's prepare for the 2001 Cancun Jazz Festival. It starts with Chucho Valdez Jr. on May 22. This night will include, with the famous Cuban wizard and his Quartet, one Spanish guitar player, Juan D 'Anyelica and his group mixing jazz roots with flamenco, and two Mexican jazz groups: B5 and Majzz.

The second night will include-something that happens not very often in this kind of festival in Mexico -- only national groups with original compositions: Orbis Tertius, Merida Jazz Quartet, the sax player Alejandro Campos and his quartet and keyboard player Mario Patron --son of the guy mentioned above -- with his band. The third and fourth evenings will include Danilo Perez and his piano, Jamaican guitar player Ernest Ranglin, Graham Haynes and his trumpet and three groups: Mela-Monk, Liquid Soul and New York Flamenco Reunion.

To finish the program, on May 26 Cancun will give its Cancun Jazz Band over to two jazz ladies: succesfull Canadian singer and pianist Diana Krall (she will play the day before in Mexico City's jazz festival with Al DiMeola and John Pattitucci, among others) and Detroit's violinist Regina Carter.


Poet, journalist, translator, broadcaster, musician Alain Derbez, who book Jazz In Mexico (Facts For Its History) originally appeared in 1994, is pleased to announce it will be republished this year in an augmented edition by the Fondo de Cultura Economica, and that he's been recording a first collaboration with Sonora Onoson, a group from Mexico D.F. with great musicians "like Gerardo Bátiz, Iraida Noriega, Emiliano Marentes, etc."

email: aderbez@hotmail.com


C o m m e n t s

Mario Patron Sr. 1 of 5
Cristina Colin June 27, 03

Yo tuve la fortuna de ver y escuchar a Mario Patron en 1966 en el auditorio de Bellas Artes en Queretaro, Qro. El hizo una impresion tremenda en mis vivencias musicales, un gran pianista y jazzista. Por el articulo anterior veo que su hijo siguio sus pasos. Me gustaria saber que es del papa. Si alguien sabe por favor informe. Gracias

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