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Edmar Castañeda wears a bright red cap. His electric blue harp is his orchestra at the Americas Society. (Americas Society)

Edmar Castañeda And Friends On JazzSet

by Becca Pulliam
Jan 9, 2014 (WBGO-FM)

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Edmar Castañeda in his element. Jorge Glem, the four-string guitar player, has won first place in more than one cuatro festival and competition events in his home country of Venezuela. Saxophonist Shlomi Cohen, born in Tel Aviv, came to New York to study jazz. One by one, guests joined harpist Edmar Castañeda (right) at the Americas Society. In "Carrao Carrao," it's Dave Silliman and Andrea Tierra. Edmar Castañeda performs at the Americas Society.

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As a child in Bogot, Edmar Castaeda and his sister took folk dance classes. Their mother made sure of that. Castaeda liked the dancing, but he really liked the live harp accompaniment. In Spanish, the harp is called the llanero. It's Colombian, not a classical harp.

When the family moved to Queens, Castaeda studied trumpet and discovered jazz, especially improvisation. So he put his loves together, working as a solo harpist in a New York restaurant and teaching himself the music people wanted to hear on an instrument they did not expect to see.

Now in his mid-30s, Castaeda is a world-traveling, collaborative musical marvel. He's an extroverted, sweet-tempered virtuoso; The Wall Street Journal calls him the "hippest harpist." A soprano saxophonist from Israel and a drummer/percussionist originally from the Bay Area round out his trio.

In November 2012, this trio and special guests played three nights at the Americas Society in Manhattan. The series fit Americas Society's mission to a T; both are designed to foster understanding of issues confronting the hemisphere, and increase awareness and appreciation of a diverse cultural heritage.

Castaeda wears a bright red cap, and his electric-blue harp is his orchestra. He walks those fluid bass lines under percussive chords and fast-moving melodies. Saxophonist Shlomi Cohen, born in Tel Aviv, came to New York to study jazz. Cohen plays funk with the Bernie Worrell Orchestra. Castaeda calls Dave Silliman "the man with four hands." Silliman is ridiculously productive as he paints with brushes on the snare drum, slaps the cajon he sits on and rattles his gourds.

Guest bandoneonist Hctor del Curto from Argentina now lives in New York, where he directed Forever Tango on Broadway. Vibraphonist Joe Locke is made in the U.S.; he and Castaeda played a duo concert at the Tanglewood Jazz Festival that aired on JazzSet. Vocalist Andrea Tierra from Medelln met and married Edmar Castaeda in New York. And Jorge Glem, the four-string guitar player, has won first place in more than one cuatro festival and competition events in his home country of Venezuela. One by one, they join Castaeda.

This series of concerts received support from Chamber Music America's 2012 Presenting Jazz program, funded through the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (which also funds JazzSet) and the MetLife Foundation Music of the Americas Concert Series, with the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Set List

  • "Double Portion" (Castaeda) featuring the trio
  • "Libertango" (Piazzolla) with guest Hctor del Curto, bandoneon
  • "Cuarto de Colores" (Castaeda) with guest Joe Locke, vibes
  • "Carrao Carrao" (traditional) with Andrea Tierra, vocals
  • "Entre Cuerdas" (Castaeda) with Jorge Glem, cuatro

Personnel

  • Edmar Castaeda, harp
  • Shlomi Cohen, soprano sax
  • Dave Silliman, drums and percussion
  • Hctor del Curto, bandonen
  • Joe Locke, vibraphone
  • Andrea Tierra, vocal
  • Jorge Glem, cuatro

Credits

Host: Dee Dee Bridgewater. Recording engineer: Bill Siegmund with Don Fierro and Andrew T. Shire. Surround Sound remix engineer: Duke Markos. Studio engineer: Ginger Bruner, KUNV in Las Vegas. Thanks to Sebastian Zubieta, music director, Americas Society; Jeanette Vuocolo, jazz program director, Chamber Music America.

Copyright 2014 WBGO-FM. To see more, visit http://www.wbgo.org.

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