The Latin rhythms of Palo! and the blues of ‘King’ Solomon Hicks close the 26th edition in the Santa Ana Square

  • The billing for the last night here also features the Gran Canaria Big Band, which celebrates the 20th anniversary of its formation 

The public square of Santa Ana bids farewell this Saturday to the 26th edition of the Festival Internacional Canarias Jazz & Más Heineken with performances by two US bands, Palo! & ‘King’ Solomon Hicks, and also the Gran Canaria Big Band. The concert starts at 21.00 hours (free entrance) and puts an end to the programme in Gran Canaria, which says goodbye with Latin rhythms, blues & classic jazz.

Palo! is a band that have created their own style of tropical music they call “Afro-Cuban Funk”, which is a mixture of a series of genres that range from salsa to jazzy improvisationes with a funky beat that captures the allure of root  Cuban music.

The group was formed in the year 2003, when producer/pianist Steve Roitstein (Celia Cruz, Willy Chirino, Tito Puente, Cheo Feliciano, Oscar d’ Leon) invited his fellow musicians to join him in an improvised musical experiment combining Cuban music with funky beats.

Palo! began piecing together & playing catchy original songs that were just made to order for the extraordinary sultry voice of Leslie Cartaya (nominated for a Latin Grammy). The scorching percussion and vocals of Philbert Armenteros (congas) and Raymer Olalde (timbales) punctuate the performances with the flavour & fire of traditional Cuban music.

Steve Roitstein was in charge of fusing these elements with a foundation of edgy, unforgettable rhythms akin to soul & funk. And to put the icing on the cake, the virtuosity of saxophonist Dr. Ed Calle, who featured in the band from 2003 till early 2017.

Since it took off, Palo! has become a featured act in Miami’s premiere live music venues, concerts, festivals and private events, and is their base of operations. Success of their many discs has taken the band on tour, performing to packed houses & festivals in major cities in the USA and Latin America, and more recently in Europe.

In June 2016, Palo! released their third album, Yo Quiero Guarachar, with a lead or advance single titled Al Monte, a catchy number that had more than 1.3 million visits on the Internet. In July 2016 the band went on a successful European tour, including París, Luxembourg, Belgium, Amsterdam and the prestigious Tempo Latino Festival in France, where they were named “Padrinos” of the Festival and Best New Artist, 2016.

In spite of his young age, ‘King’ Solomon Hicks is a recognised name in his own right, on the current international blues scene. At the age of thirteen, some saw him as the new B.B.King, George Benson or Wes Montgomery for his guitar skills and also for his special feeling & awareness when playing jazz. He began playing the guitar when he was only six years old and some of his friends in Harlem started to call him ‘King’ Solomon. He comes on tour to Europe presenting his latest disc, titled Carrying on the Torch of the Blues, in which he has the collaboration of saxophonist Jake Clemons (Bruce Springsteen’s E. Street Band), among others.

Jake Clemons took over the role of saxophonist in Bruce Springsteen’s E. Street Band from his late uncle, Clarence Clemons. The disc Carrying on the Torch of the Blues has many original songs written, arranged & composed by Solomon, as well as versions of other well-known tracks, such as the popular Homework by Otis Rush & The J.Geils Band.

An outstanding musician in the band touring with King is bassist & music producer Kirk Yano, winner of two Grammy awards for his participation in the recording of some of the best albums by Mariah Carey and also for his work with the legendary US rap-band Public Enemy. In keeping with this, there are about twenty Grammy nominations associated with different artists in which he has participated in his role as producer, engineer, sound-mixer and/or musician, and has also been inducted in the New York Blues Hall of Fame. To date, he has collaborated with artists as famous as they are different, from Plácido Domingo to Miles Davis, George Clynton & Funkadelic, Pat Martino and Soulive among others.

The Gran Canaria Big Band celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Active since the year 1997, this senior & respected Canarian ensemble was formed as a result of an initiative taken by a group of different musicians in the field of jazz in Gran Canaria, to get together and begin shaping a repertoire based on standard numbers and subsequently performing these at various concerts, both at festivals and music halls. A somewhat necessary ‘apprenticeship’ that led to their appearance at the “Festival Internacional de Jazz de Canarias” in the year 1999, sharing the stage with the excellent vocalist Carmen Lundy; a performance that had resounding success.

Following that experience, the band set out on a tour of the islands establishing their first important collaborations with artists, starting with singer Cornelius Lund on a television programme in Norway with a high viewers rating; and as a result, the Gran Canaria Big Band got to be known for the first time on an international level. Ever since then they have been in constant demand to appear & record on national & international television.

It’s worth noting the resounding success they have enjoyed at some of the recent editions of the Festival de Jazz de Canarias (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 & 2014) achieving a great reception with both the general public & press; and also high praise from Robben Ford as well as the great Rosa Pasos, with whom they shared the stage.

They also performed at Spañjazz, a Spanish jazz festival organised by the ‘Alfredo Kraus Auditorium Foundation’, together with the singer from Cataluña, Laura Simó at the ‘Auditori de Barcelona’ (Barcelona Auditorium) and at ‘La Noche en Blanco’ in Madrid. The Gran Canaria Big Band was the star attraction at the closing concert of the ‘I Festival de Jazz’ in Telde, in May 2007.

The band have released three albums on the market. The first, titled Gran Canaria Big Band (2007) is a tribute to the band’s progress & track record and to its loyal fans. It was presented in different Spanish cities, such as Barcelona (L´Auditori) and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Cicca & the Auditorium in Teror). The second is a re-mastered version of the first but with some new numbers, titled Gran Canaria Big Band Straight Ahead (2011), released on the US label ‘Summit Records’. And the third is a live recording of the macro project, titled Gran Canaria Big Band reinterpreta a José Antonio Ramos, which captures the music of the late Canarian timple player in a Big Band arrangement & sound.

The latest shows performed by them were staged at the Pérez Galdós Theatre and their resident venue, the emblematic Cuyás Theatre, where they have been  appearing since the year 2008. The band have shared the stage with guest artists of the calibre of Laura Simó, Beatriz Alonso, Carme Canela, Perico Sambeat, Bob Sands, Jamie Davis, Deborah Carter, Francisco Blanco Latino, Pedro Ruy Blas, Soledad Giménez, Thais Morell, David Pastor…

This year, on their 20th anniversary tour, they will perform at prominent festivals & music halls: Canaries Jazz Festival, Valencia Jazz Festival, Lanzarote, Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Madrid, Canarias Jazz Time, Cuyás Theatre, Alfredo Kraus Auditorium …

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