Born: May 9, 1968 Primary Instrument: Sax, tenor
DIEGO MAROTO IN NEW YORK (Richard Blondet 22-Nov-04)
Todd Barkan was doing his impression of Linda Blair in the Exorcist as his head was spinning out of control at the way these cats just Jazz waltz'd their way into Dizzy's Club Coca Cola and blew EVERYONE away with their musical interpretation of Jazz music.
Last night was the 5th installment of a week long series that began on Tuesday @ Dizzy's which played host to the MEXICO NOW festival that was taking place in New York for the past 2 weeks which have featured events all over the city. At Dizzy's, New York audiences were treated to a double bill of drummer/composer Antonio Sanchez and his various groups (Trio, Quartet & Quintet) and the New York City debut of DIEGO MAROTO and his Sextet.
I was expecting perhaps a battle of the bands between Antonio Sanchez group whom last night featured Ben Street (bass), Adam Rogers (guitar) and Donny McCaslin (sax) versus Diego's sextet. It was no contest. Diego's sextet was blazin' and took no prisoners. They completely blew the Antonio Sanchez combination out of the water. If the Diego Maroto Sextet were based in New York, they'd give a lot of the local artists a run for their money.
The group consisted of Rey David Alejandre (trombone), who is a cross between Conrad Heriwg and Papo Vazquez. In other words a bad Mo'Fo'! Mark Osito Aanderud on piano, Francisco de la Rea on guitar, and the two finest Bass and Drums combo I've ever heard in Agustmn Pernal (bass) and Gabriel Puentes (drums). Rounding out the sextet was the great Diego Maroto, on Tenor and Soprano Sax respectively.
Make no mistake. The music of Diego Maroto is not some forced attempt at combining native Mexican elements with the harmonies of Jazz. This is no Mariachi-Jazz or a Bop-Jarocho of some kind. This is pure and simple as Straight Ahead a Jazz music as you will hear anywhere. Diego's sextet is on the level of many of the greats and I'll put them side by side next to the groups led by Roy Hargrove and David Sanchez. He is just as gifted a composer, if not better. I say that without any reservation whatsoever. If his name was John Johnson or Lou Dimaggio, there'd be no question that he'd be a strong presence at Jazz festivals and would be booked at places like Yoshi's, Jazz Alley, Blues Alley, Hothouse, Birdland, Blue Note, Iridium and other high profile venues. But his name is Diego Maroto who hails from and studied in Mexico and I hate to say it, but it's more than likely he and his Jazz compadres will get lumped into some type of World/Jazz or Latin/Jazz category and be treated as an avant- garde act without having heard the music. If you listen to his music, it's no different than what any other mainstream Jazz artist is doing today. Only his music is truly exceptional. One of his compositions entitled MUNDO PARALELO is as hard bop as any Eddie Henderson & Sonny Fortune CD or as funky as any Weather Report or Taj Mahal recording out there. In another composition, ANOTHER MINOR BLUES, bass player Agustmn Bernal takes a solo that puts him in the pantheon of great bassists on the scene today like Boris Koslov, John Benitez, Dwayne Burno and John Pattitucci, amongst others.
These cats are not playing Latin Jazz or Avant-Garde Jazz or any other style of Jazz except JAZZ. Punto. Hopefully, they'll be back in the USA in the near future so those of you who are interested can check them out. I sure hope that their performance @ Dizzy's made people take notice and allow them some opportunity to perform some more in the USA. Especially in New York (For selfish reasons.)
Also, the room at Dizzy's Club Coca Cola is A#1. It just replaced Birdland as the best listening room to hear and experience jazz. Although a $30 admission may seem somewhat steep, it is reasonable considering the qualtiy of the musicianship and just the overall vibe of the place. No lousy sound problenms or amp feedback in this place. 100% Perfect acoustics all around. And the view overlooking Cnetral Park ain't bad either. Great food as well. Club Dizzy's will defintiely be one of my regular hang out spots from now on. And if that wasn't enough, after the 2 sets of the double bill featuring Antonio Sanchez Group and Diego Maroto Sextet, audiences were treated to a late night after hours session with the John Benitez Quartet that featured Ernesto Simpson (drums), The Rodriguez Bros: Robert (Piano) and Mike (Trumpet), and the great John Benitez (bass).
Check out Dizzy's Club Coca Cola if you haven't already. Gonzalo Rubalcaba will be coming through and in January '05, the greatest vibes player in jazz of my generation, Mr. Stefon Harris and his Blackout ensemble.
BTW-It is very evident, that Latin Jazz is well-represented at the new home for Jazz @ Lincoln Center. Upcoming concert performances and educational clinics and discussion panels will be revolving around Latin Jazz in January of 2005. Even the menu is well represented (Anyone ever try a Cubano-Bop BBQ Steak Sandwich?)
Check it out for yourself, next time you're at Dizzy's.
And if you're able to find it, check out Diego Maroto's new CD entitled MUNDO PARALELO...