Let’s begin with the group’s origin and the music of Primavera. Primavera has its origins in the fact that each of the members has a passion to perform traditional Afro-Cuban and Brazilian musical forms and to weave these exciting Latin grooves into their jazz improvisations. The members met in Berkeley. CA while playing in the Afro-Cuban Orchestra at La Pena Cultural Center and in Afro-Cuban performance ensembles at the Jazz School. The band formed in the Spring of 2009, hence the band name “Primavera”, to perform a benefit concert in Berkeley. Primavera Band has been performing frequently around the SF Bay Area ever since.
This album consists of live performances, and includes a Latin jazz standard influenced by Afro-Cuban musical traditions: Cal Tjader’s “Leyte”. There are fresh interpretations of Latin songs that were first introduced to American audiences by the great band leaders of the 30s and 40s: “Caravan”, popularized by Duke Ellington and “Frenesi”, popularized by the Artie Shaw Orchestra. The band’s heart-felt rendition of the Latin standard “Besame Mucho” features vocalist Ana Nitmar. Primavera Band also pays homage to the great jazz bands of the 60s and 70s with engaging performances of Latin-influenced jazz tunes including Chick Corea’s “Sea Journey”, Horace Silver’s “Song for My Father”, Joe Henderson’s “Recorda-Me”, and “Recado Bossa Nova”, which was first recorded by Hank Mobley. Listen to Jane Lenoir’s haunting flute solo on “Sea Journey”. This album also includes two jazz standards that the band performs with a Latin flavor: Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” and Charlie Parker’s “My Little Suede Shoes”. Under the influence of the band’s mentor and coach, Marcos Silva, renowned Brazilian pianist, guitarist and arranger, the band is exploring jazz arrangements of Musica Popular Brasiliera (MPB), Brazilian popular music. This album includes Tom Jobim’s “Brigas Nunca Mais”, featuring vocalist Ana Nitmar.
Jane Lenoir, a virtuoso flautist with unparalelled fluidity and extraordinary tone quality, trained for 8 years at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and Oberlin College Conservatory. Jane plays in orchestras all over the Bay Area. In the late 70s she studied with Hal Stein, a great swing player from New York, and started gigging as a jazz player. Pianist Lena Johnson began piano lessons in Berlin when she was 5, and then grew up in Hispanic neighborhoods in New York City, where she loved listening to Cuban and Puerto Rican music. Lena is intimate with the great works of classical composers, but is inspired by Johnny Pacheco, Eddie Palmieri, Willie Colon, Ray Barreto , Tito Puente, Cal Tjader, and Clare Fischer. Guitarist Jeff McNish carried a toy guitar around with him, as a small child, until his parents finally gave him his first guitar lesson when he was five. Jeff learned to play guitar from mentors who played country and jazz guitar, and by jamming with other musicians in local jazz clubs. Jeff also went through a period of intense discovery of Calypso music while sailing around the Caribbean. Add to this the intricate rhythms of a percussionist Phil Montalvo, who plays congas, bongo, and a potpourri of Latin percussion, and drummer, Jeff Becerra, who started playing when he was 9 and was first inspired by Buddy Rich. Weaving very fine lines beneath the music of all of the players mentioned above is bass player John Malmquist, who is inspired by Wayne Shorter, Weather Report, as well as the Latin jazz greats. We are fortunate to have guest vocalist Anna Nitmar, from Guatemala, whose voice is as pure and lovely as the happiest song bird I have ever heard!
Primavera Band is an eclectic mix of talented musicians with widely varying musical backgrounds. The combination of these musicians, playing together, creates a unique band personality with a captivating sound and groove that may well win your heart, as they have mine. OK. So maybe now you know why we call this album ‘Tocando Juntos’