and The Hot Club Of The Americas
and The Hot Club Of The Americas
On a recent Friday night in downtown Miami, restaurant tables were full in an outdoor plaza. There were well-dressed couples, children running around and a complimentary rum tasting. And on stage, leading a sextet and playing his white electric violin, was 76-year-old Federico Britos. He's one of the premier violinists of Latin jazz, with a career spanning more than 60 years. But even among jazz aficionados, he's not well-known.
That may be because, for much of his career, he made his living playing with orchestras in Cuba, Venezuela and Miami. But, from his earliest years as a young violinist in Uruguay, Britos has also played jazz.
His latest project, , takes him back to those days. Britos first began playing violin when he was 5 in Uruguay, studying classical technique. He says he'd been playing for several years before he'd heard North American jazz artists on the radio. Before long, he was jamming with them at the Hot Club de Montevideo. He found that the violin can bring a special sound and texture to the music. "It's a seasoning," he says. "It adds a different flavor to jazz."
After 20 years living in Miami, Britos is most comfortable in Spanish. In an interview recently, he was translated by his friend and bass player, Renyel Rivero. The Hot Club of Montevideo, he said, was just that — a club. Some members played Dixieland, while others like him favored the hot swing style pioneered by musicians like and .
"Through the embassy, all the different groups throughout the '60s that came to visit Uruguay had contact with these Hot Club groups," Britos says. "They would come, hang out and meet, and they would be part of the jam sessions and they got to know everybodyAmong the greats with whom he recalls playing: , ,, and . It was at the Hot Club de Montevideo that Britos also met and played with Oscar Aleman, a consummate guitarist and showman from Argentina. Britos already knew his music from records.
Britos has always balanced his love of swing jazz with his orchestral playing. In 1960, he moved to Havana, where he played with the orchestras of the Cuban National Opera and Ballet companies. From his first day there, he says, he also plunged into Cuban popular music and jazz. Cuban saxophonist credits him with introducing bossa nova to the island. When he came to Miami in the '90s, Britos reunited with some of his Cuban musical friends. That's when producer Nat Chediak first heard him. "To hear Federico," Chediak says, "is to fall under his spell."As he talked, he tucked his violin under his chin and played a tune he'd learned from a recording and later played with Aleman, the jazz standard "Rose Room." Britos compares Aleman to the great Belgian jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and describes Aleman's style. "Improvisation ideas that were very pretty, phrases with a lot of feeling," he said. "When he would accompany me, he would push me; he would create a foundation that was very special. He would make me feel like I was in the air while I was being featured."
Chediak produced an album Britos recorded with Cuban piano great Bebo Valdes, and says Britos can play anything. "You're doing Federico a great injustice to call him an Afro-Cuban violinist, a pop-music violinist, a jazz violinist," Chediak says. "Federico Britos is a violinist all in caps."
In his newest recording, Britos goes back to his earliest influences: Django Reinhardt and the Quintette of the Hot Club of France, and especially the group's violinist, Stephane Grappelli.
Although their paths sometimes crossed in Europe and America, Britos never met Grappelli. He was inspired to write an orchestral suite for the French violinist that includes Britos' arrangement of Charlie Chaplin's tune "Shine." Grappelli heard a recording, Britos says, and was intrigued at how he changed the harmonies and updated the chord changes.
Later, in a phone conversation with Grappelli, Britos says he explained his thinking. He re-imagined the piece "so that the guitar player could improvise it the way Django would have if he would have been living in that moment."
In his new recording, Britos' band takes classic Hot Club of France tunes and blends them with Afro-Cuban rhythms. "Djangology," a Grappelli-Reinhardt classic, is reset as a guaracha.
Britos started with a list of more than 80 classic Hot Club tunes. Bass player Renyel Rivero describes an early meeting with their producer. "He asked Federico, 'How would you play "Dark Eyes,'" he says. As Rivero talks, Britos begins playing the tune, and then stops and taps out, on the top of his violin, a Latin rhythm
In the recording, "Dark Eyes" is a traditional Russian melody played as a type of rumba, a guaguanco. "," another classic, is performed as a danzón; "" becomes a bolero.
After more than six decades of performing, Britos is full of energy and stories. He recalls a time in 1956 when he met the celebrated classical violinist Jascha Heifetz and played for him. Britos says he told Heifetz that he'd love to be able to play just a fourth of what the maestro did. Heifetz said forget it. "If you practice a lot," Heifetz said, "you won't be able to play a fourth. You'll be able to play a small fraction of what I play. Nobody plays like I play." Britos continues the story. "And then he smiled and said, 'But me, no matter how much I study, I'll never be able to play jazz the way you play.'"
Federico Britos' stories are almost as entertaining as his
Sunday, June 7th 6:00pm
10181 W Sample Rd
Coral Springs, FL 33065
Hot Club of the Americas "Federico Britos Presents Hot Club of the Americas” (3 Knocks Entertainment) Street Date April 7, 2015
Federico Britos (violin), Jorge Garcia (guitar), Felix Gomez (piano), Renyel Rivero (bass), Edwin Bonilla (percussion), Carlomagno Araya (drums)
With Special Guests: Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Giovanni Hidalgo, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Hendrik Meurkens, Antonio Adolfo
Artist: HOT CLUB OF THE AMERICAS
Title: FEDERICO BRITOS PRESENTS HOT CLUB OF THE AMERICAS
Label: 3 Knocks Entertainment
UPC Code: 792278008771
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Track listing, track times and composer:
1. The Sheik of Araby 4:16
2. J’attendrai - feat. Hendrik Meurkens 4:34
3. I’m Confessin’ That I Love You - feat. Gonzalo Rubalcaba 6:08
4. Djangology - 5:29
5. La Vie En Rose feat. Cecile McLorin Salvant (English Version) 6:24
6. Dark Eyes feat. Giovanni Hidalgo 5:12
7. Melodie Au Crepuscle feat. Antonio Adolfo 5:01
8. Exactly Like You 4:02
9. Nuages 5:03
10. Honeysuckle Rose 4:29
11. Tears 5:24
12. La Vie En Rose feat. Cecile McLorin Salvant (French Version) 6:24
Federico Britos (violin), Jorge Garcia (guitar), Felix Gomez (piano), Renyel Rivero(bass), Edwin Bonilla (percussion), Carlomagno Araya (drums)
Hot Club of The Americas is a band that performs a unique blend of Latin and Gypsy Jazz, led by world renowned violinist, Federico Britos.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Federico Britos, a musician so versatile and charismatic that he’ll get called for a dance, an operetta, a cocktail party or simply to have a drink in his endearing company; to chat in some Miami café. It’s that the legendary Uruguayan violinist speaks like he plays, and plays with the same ease and freedom as when he’s fascinating us one of his many anecdotes from his long and varied musical career........ I met Federico in that problematic and feverish Habana of the 60’s, where apart from his work with the Opera and Ballet orchestras led by Felix Guerrero, he organized a trio with his compatriot bassist Federico Garcia Vigil, who in that particular group played the guitar and sang in Portuguese. On bass they had an American mulato, enigmatic and painteresque, named Mario Lagarde who had arrived in Cuba around the same time as Chicago saxophonist Eddie Torriente. People called the trio “Los Federicos”, and in an era of confusion and absolute disinformation, where our country did not have access to recordings of any kind, it was through this band that Cuban musicians, who only knew of the Bossa Nova through references, heard for the first time the marvelous composistions of Bonfá, Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes, João Gilberto and Roberto Menescal. It can be said that in some way, “Los Federicos” played a significant role in the unconditional love that some of my contemporaries have felt for brazilian music since then.
As Bebo Valdés would have had said: “De allá pa’cá mucho ha llovido” (heretofore there’s been much rain) and from those days to now, that popular Montevidean musician has been performing chamber music, commercial sessions and international tours with the great Cachao, even playing in Jazz clubs, symphonic concerts and recordings with Charlie Haden amongst other artists of the most diverce musical styles. But above all of these activities, Federico the Uruguayan (as we’ve always affectionately called him) felt a particular devotion to Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli and The Hot Club of France. This CD is an original form of tribute to the music of that era and it’s most significant composers. I say “an original form of tribute,” due to the fact that the art of the sounds isn’t just notes, but how those notes are played, and obviously, in this project, this extremely well known music, frequently revisited throughout the world, is treated in a very particular and unique way. Duke Ellington, on many occasions, spoke of how a good arrangement is like a re-composition, and this is precisely the case concerning Hugo Sánchez and Jaui Schneider, as their arrangements, coupled with the exquisite interpretation of the participating musicians, gives the impression that Grappelli was Cuban, Reinhardt Brazilian, and that the Hot Club of France could very well have been based in Miami’s own Coconut Grove. Bravo Federico!
¡¡Viva the Latin Jazz!!