Primary Instrument: Flute
Flutist, composer and arranger, Mark Weinstein began his study of music at age six with piano lessons from the neighborhood teacher in Fort Green Projects in Brooklyn where he was raised. Between then and age 14 when he started to play trombone in Erasmus Hall High School, he tried clarinet and drums. Playing his first professional gig on trombone at 15, he added string bass, a common double in NYC at that time.
Mark learned to play Latin bass from Salsa bandleader Larry Harlow. He experimented playing trombone with Harlow's band and three years later, along with Barry Rogers, formed Eddie Palmieri's first trombone section, changing the sound of salsa forever. With his heart in jazz, Weinstein was a major contributor to the development of the salsa trombone playing and arranging. He extended jazz attitudes and techniques in his playing with salsa bands. His arrangements broadened the harmonic base of salsa while introducing folkloric elements for authenticity and depth. The only horn in a Latin jazz quintet led by Larry Harlow at the jam session band at Schenks Paramount Hotel in the Catskills, soloist and arranger with Charlie Palmieri in the first trumpet and trombone salsa band in NYC, arranger and featured soloist along with the great Cuban trumpet player Alfredo Chocolate Armenteros in Orchestra Harlow, and with the Panamanian giant Victer Paz in the La Playa Sextet, and with the Alegre All Stars, Mark's playing and arranging was a major influence on Salsa trombone and brass writing in the 60s and 70s.
Mark continued to record with Eddie Palmieri, with Cal Tjader and with Tito Puente. He toured with Herbie Mann for years, played with Maynard Ferguson, and the big bands of Joe Henderson, Clark Terry, Jones and Lewis, Lionel Hampton, Duke Pearson and Kenny Dorham. In 1967 he wrote and recorded the Afro-Cuban jazz album, Cuban Roots for the legendary salsa producer Al Santiago. It revolutionized Latin jazz; combining authentic folkloric drum ensembles with harmonically complex extended jazz solos and arrangements. Chick Corea was on piano and the rhythm section included the finest and most knowledgeable Latin drummers: Julito Collazo, Tommy Lopez Sr. and Papaito (timbalero with La Sonora Matancera).
In the early 1970's Mark took time off from music to earn a Ph.D in Philosophy with a specialization in mathematical logic. He became a college professor and remains so until this day. When he returned to the music scene in 1978 playing the flute, he wrote produced and recorded the Orisha Suites with singer Olympia Alfara, the great Colombian jazz pianist Eddie Martinez, percussionists Steve Berrios and Julito Collazo and an Afro-Cuban chorus with bata. Unreleased until recently, music from the Orisha Suites became the theme for Roger Dawson's Sunday Salsa Show on WRVR.
Mark returned to jazz with a vengeance, working gigs and recording over a dozen CD's since 1997. Seasoning, his first flute CD experimented with different settings for the flute, including a quartet with vibist Bryan Carrott and Cecil Brooks III on drums and a trio of flute and two guitars featuring Vic Juris. In 1998, Mark recorded Jazz World Trios with Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo and percussionist Cyro Baptista. Their exploration of Brazilian themes with classical guitar and percussion contrasted with a freebop trio of Santi Debriano on bass and Cindy Blackman on drums and Mark on flute. Jean Paul Bourelly and Milton Cardone completed the set with music based on Santeria themes. The release of Three Deuces in 2000, paired Mark with guitarists Vic Juris, Ed Cherry and Paul Meyers.
Because of limited distribution and more demand that albums available, Mark rerecorded the material from the original Cuban Roots with new arrangements and the help of such giants of Cuban music as pianist Omar Sosa, percussionists Francisco Aquabella, Lazaro Galarraga, John Santos, Jose De Leon, and Nengue Hernandez. It was co-produced with his nephew, trombonist, violinist and arranger Dan Weinstein for Michael McFadin and CuBop Records.
Mark recently had the incredible opportunity to go to Kiev, Ukraine, where his father was born, to record the music of the Ukrainian composer Alexey Kharchenko. Milling Time, the record that they made, stretched his playing in a number of directions, from modern classical music to smooth jazz to Ukrainian folk music. Mark hopes that this is the first of a number of international projects that reflect his growing interest in music from many places and cultures.
The tempo or Mark's recording has increased since 2001. He recorded an album of Jewish music with Mike Richmond on bass, Brad Shepik on guitar and Jamey Haddad on drums and percussion. An album with guitarist vocalist Richard Boukas of music from the Calendario do Som of Hermeto Pascoal, which had Nilson Matta on bass, Paulo Braga on drums and Vaderlei Pereira on percussion. Another version of Cuban Roots, on Jazzheads records called Algo Mas, with Jean Paul Bourelly playing what he loves best, electric guitar. Along with Santi Debriano on bass, master percussionist Pedrito Martinez, who did the vocals, as well as Nani Santiago, Gene Golden and Skip Burney on congas and bata drums. Then a recording in Berlin with Omar Soso on vibes and marimbas along with Ali Keita on ballaphone, Mathais Ogbukoa and Aho Luc Nicaise on African percussion, bassist Stanislou Michalou and Marque Gilmore on drums. His most recent release, O Nosso Amor, also on Jazzheads, is an album of Brazilian jazz with Romero Lubambo, Nilson Matta and Paulo Braga along with percussionists Guilherme Franko and Jorge Silva. Up next is a Latin Jazz album featuring Mark Levine on piano, a flute trio album with Anne Drummond and Anders Bostrom. And then some more Cuban and Jewish surprises.