”Nineteen musicians are heard on Rafi's impressive debut album, My Island, but his trombone is the standout voice. Israeli by birth, he's played Broadway shows, film soundtracks, overseas festivals and a bunch of concerts around town. His primary interest these days lies in Latin sounds. Catch him all over town this month.”
Paul Blair, Hot House Magazine, Featured Artists April Issue.
Rafi Malkiel- bio
Composer, trombonist and euphonium player Rafi Malkiel, moved to New York from Israel in 1996, has delighted audiences around the world, performing with artists such as Willie Colon, Arturo O’Farrill, Ray Anderson, Colombian singer Toto La Momposina, and he participated in Reggie Workman’s John Coltrane Africa Brass Live project and Jason Lindner’s Big Band. In 2003 he formed The Rafi Malkiel Ensemble, a group of virtuosi and versatile musicians living in New York City. The group plays original compositions and unique arrangements by Malkiel, fusing Jazz and Latin-American standards with Afro-Caribbean rhythms. The music is both composed as well as improvised. Rafi was cited in the Recommended Jazz Trombonists list in PBS’ website Jazz, a film by Ken Burns, as well as in The Young Guns of Jazz, trumpeting the best of a new generation, by Chip Deffaa in the New York Post, July 2001. Rafi has performed in numerous festivals around the world such as the JVC Jazz Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Summer Stage, WOMAD festivals in Greece, New Zealand, and Australia, the Sydney Festival in Australia, and the Red Sea International Jazz Festival in Israel. He has played in New York City in venues such as Madison Square Garden, Radio City, Town Hall, Symphony Space, the Carlyle Hotel with Bobby Short, Jazz Standard, Joe’s Pub, Sweet Basil, SOB’s, and Smalls. Rafi has recorded over forty Jazz, Latin, and Rock albums with notable artists such as Ray Anderson, Salsa Picante, Toto La Momposina and Lauryn Hill. Rafi holds a M.A in Jazz performance from Manhattan School of Music and a B.F.A from the New School. He is a winner of the American Israel Culture Foundation award.
RAFI MALKIEL’S COMMENTS ON “My Island”
My Island features some of my favorite jazz standards and vintage Cuban tunes, as well as a few of my compositions, all arranged for different combinations of musicians, with whom I have shared and continue to share the stage in various bands. Each tune is based on a different Latin rhythm with the exception of a New Orleans March and a short interlude in the form of a Baroque fugue. My arrangements respect the folk roots of the source material and are interpreted by the unusual instrumentation of horns (trumpet, trombone and euphonium), woodwinds (saxophone, clarinet, flute and on 3 tracks a bassoon), the Cuban trés guitar, piano, bass, drums and Cuban, Brazilian and Colombian percussion. Three of the 13 tracks feature vocals.
While Salsa is the most popular Latin American dance form, it’s certainly not the only one. In fact it’s actually a musical style combining many different elements created in New York. Yet every country in Latin America has its own rich and unique heritage of traditional dance rhythms and grooves. On this album I pay tribute to some that originated in Colombia, Brazil and the islands off their shores as well as on the islands of Cuba, Puerto Rico and my current home, Manhattan.
My goal was to present orchestrated and improvised music performed and interpreted by a chamber sized ensemble that refines and distills into a jazz setting the passion and fire of a night spent at a Latin music club.
1. Spontaneously improvised and recorded in one take, Gozambique invites you to dance to the Cuban Mozambique rhythm. Each instrument takes a solo, like at a jazz jam session.
2. One of my favorite compositions is Black and Tan Fantasy, a song I had the privilege of playing while on tour with The Duke Ellington Orchestra. A blues that manages to be both serious and comic at the same time, it’s set here at the pace of a New Orleans funeral march and features one of my heroes, tuba player Howard Johnson.
3. Danza Magica, the magical Fandango dance of Colombia, is a dizzying melodic chase between the horns that references both Dixieland and Klezmer music.
4. I first heard Los Tres Juanes, a song I love very much, sung by Miguelito Cuny, one of my favorite Cuban singers. It’s a beautiful ballad about three brothers praying to the Virgin Mary to save them from their sinking ship. This version features the incredible singer Abraham Rodriguez.
5. The standard Nature Boy is a classic. Here we open with the Colombia’s mysterious Porro rhythm and eventually transform into a dance party in the Cumbia rhythm.
6. Stradust is one of the most beloved standards in the world and is a gorgeous song of which many versions already exist. This one is a tribute to the great Cuban bassist Cachao, and I arranged it for a small chamber ensemble performing in the elegant Cuban Danzon style.
7. I first heard Coballende on an album Isaac Oviedo recorded at a house party. The song is a part of the repertoire of Cachimba, one of the bands I’m happy to be a member of with Abraham, Itai, Jack and sometimes Anthony. The music combines Salsa and Yoruba chants and every Wednesday we play at Plan B, a club on 10th Street and Avenue B in New York. Sung mainly in Spanish, a few other languages are also heard here and my favorite part is the words “salaam alaikum” which is Arabic for “peace be with you.”
8-9. I wrote Blue Bomba as a tribute to the blues and to the Puerto-Rican Bomba rhythm. Track 8 is a blues introduction into the dance party section on track 9.
10. Fuga, Fuga, Fuga is a tribute to European classical music and to one of my favorite composers J.S. Bach.
11. Ze Hu Ze, is a percussion interlude featuring the pandero drum from Brazil that leads into the next track.
12. I was inspired to write Choro for Anat, a piece in the Brazilian Choro style, by Anat Cohen’s Choro Ensemble.
13.Guajira con Trombone, features the Cuban Guajira rhythm and an a-cappella horn introduction.