PERCUSSIONIST MICHAEL SPIRO AND TROMBONIST WAYNE WALLACE’S CANTO AMÉRICA EARNS GRAMMY® NOMINATION FOR “BEST LATIN JAZZ ALBUM”
“Simply put, Canto América is a certified masterpiece – one of the most aurally-arresting and culturally-distinctive recordings in recent memory.”
– Mark Holston, Latino Magazine.com
World-renowned trombonist Wayne Wallace and percussionist Michael Spiro have earned a GRAMMY ® nomination for “Best Latin Jazz Album” for their CD Canto América on the Patois label. The Grammy Awards ceremony will take place in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 12, 2017.
“We are extremely proud of this recording, and would like to take the opportunity to personally thank the Academy and all of the musicians who participated in the making of this project,” say Spiro and Wallace.
Wallace, Spiro and La Orquesta Sinfonietta (consisting of 35 performers, many of whom are affiliated with Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music where Wallace and Spiro teach) weave a colorful tapestry of classic-to-modern rhythms – bolero to timba, Haitian petro to Cuban rumba, mambo to guiro – refreshed by traditional and newly composed compositions, along with surprising treatments of 20th-century standards. Thus the Great American Song “Stardust” is recast as a danzón, while the familiar John Coltrane vehicle “Afro-Blue” transforms into a Creole masterpiece.
Canto América artfully balances African and Western influences by way of “a strong rhythmic base over which orchestral elements of European classical music are featured,” write Wallace and Spiro in their engrossing liner essay. But here, the rhythmic base combines folkloric rhythms with the modern grooves of Wayne Wallace’s well-established Latin Jazz Quintet. This fusion forms the foundation for Canto América, upon which the co-leaders use post-bop harmonies, emblematic compositions, and their own eclectic experiences to create music far removed from the usual Latin Jazz formats.
The recording earned rave reviews:
“[Wallace], Spiro, and Orquestra Sinfonietta deliver something nearly peerless in Canto America. Though highly disciplined and carefully plotted, it is far from an academic exercise. Jazz improvisation and individual acumen shine through while feel and groove consciousness are paramount. Ultimately, this is more than the knowledge and practice of traditions; it is the collective expression of human imagination and heart. Brilliant.” – Thom Jurek, Allmusic.com
“Simply put, Canto América is a certified masterpiece – one of the most aurally-arresting and culturally-distinctive recordings in recent memory.” – Mark Holston, Latino Magazine.com
Five stars: “…an ambitious and panoramic endeavor…an engaging narrative of the Afro-Caribbean experience on a grand scale…. Michael Spiro and Wayne Wallace have done a tremendous favor to those interested in not only the music, but also the academic and intellectual approach to its formation and evolution as well.” – James Nadal, All About Jazz
“What beauty! What a rarity!….prodigious work…” – Eric Gonzalez, Herencia Latina
“…joyous, celebratory…. a vision of groundbreaking jazz. The longtime collaborators are in top form in this fusion of ancient folkloric rhythms, modern Latin jazz grooves, post-bop harmonies, and stunning orchestral work.” – Monarch Magazine
“…sweeping and gorgeous…. Never unwieldy in its largeness, the music is focused, unpretentious, and heartfelt. Highly rewarding.” – Jeff Potter, Modern Drummer
In his four-decade career, San Francisco native Wayne Wallace has collaborated with artists ranging from Count Basie to Stevie Wonder, Sonny Rollins to Carlos Santana, Tito Puente to Lena Horne and Aretha Franklin – as sideman, composer, arranger, and producer. His debut album as a leader, 2000’s Three In One (Spirit Nectar), showcased his writing skills and his encyclopedic knowledge of Afro-Cuban rhythms, the result of years of music-making in the close-knit Bay Area jazz community, where Wallace has played an oversized role. He has earned particular notice for his approach to Latin Jazz, a vision shaped by his work with Latin Jazz percussion giants Pete Escovedo and John Santos, in whose Machete Ensemble he served as music director for more than 20 years. This is the eighth time that Wallace — a San Francisco native who splits his time between the Bay Area and the Midwest where he’s a professor at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music — has been on a GRAMMY nominated album.
Michael Spiro has performed on each of those nominated albums – a mere fraction of the literally hundreds of wide-ranging albums on which he has worked, which include GRAMMY-nominated albums by John Santos, pianist Mark Levine, and vocalist Karrin Allyson. He has also performed with Ella Fitzgerald, Carlos Santana, and McCoy Tyner. He is an internationally recognized author of multiple books on the subject of Afro-Caribbean percussion, and also has released two critically acclaimed instructional DVDs. The first album under his own name, BataKetu (with Mark Lamson), released in 1996, was named by DRUM! Magazine as one of the “Top 50 Drum Records” of all time.
Wallace and Spiro met more than 30 years ago in San Francisco, forging a personal and professional relationship tempered by their shared interest in the music of Cuba. In 2008, Spiro joined the faculty of the Jacobs School of Music at IU, and under his direction the percussion department grew from its emphasis on orchestral work to include the world’s rhythms. He soon began leading a Latin Jazz big band at the school, which used many of Wallace’s acclaimed arrangements, which led to a guest appearance with the band — and eventually to the school hiring Wallace as a professor in 2013.