Robert Glasper Premieres Orchestral Piece With Nu Deco Ensemble


Nu Deco Ensemble, Jacomo Bairos conductor, performing at the Arsht Center, Miami

Pianist, composer, and producer Robert Glasper has made an art of moving with ease between jazz, hip hop, neo-soul, rock, pop, and back. Using tools as traditional as the jazz piano trio and as open-ended as the recording studio, Glasper has created an ever-changing but organic mix that is often deceptively easy-on-the-ear — yet always studded with surprising turns and details. This weekend, Glasper will be premiering his first orchestral work, a commission by the Miami-based Nu Deco Ensemble, in concerts Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. at the World Center in Miami Beach, FL.

(These concerts were canceled on Thursday because of coronavirus concerns.)

The restless, genre-bending Glasper was a natural choice for Nu Deco.
“Robert has been in our ‘bucket list’ collaborator from the beginning of Nu Deco,” says Nu Deco co-founder, composer and co-artistic director Sam Hyken. “I find very exciting the opportunity to add to the orchestral canon using artists that normally wouldn’t get an opportunity to do so because of just the way classical music is.”

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Betsayda Machado and Parranda El Clavo: Small Town, Powerful Music

Betsayda Machado and Parranda El Clavo. Photo by Luis Acosta

Countries in the Caribbean and Latin America such as Cuba, Brazil, and Colombia have long-established the wealth of their musical traditions on the global stage. But the extraordinary variety and richness of Venezuelan music remain largely a secret hidden in plain view, in some cases to Venezuelans themselves.

Betsayda Machado and Parranda El Clavo are helping to change that as they put a spotlight on Afro-Venezuelan traditions and music. They will be appearing in concert this Saturday, March 14 at Downtown Doral Park, as part of the city and The Rhythm Foundation’s joint musical and cultural event, “Ritmo Doral.”

(This event has been canceled because of coronavirus concerns.)

“What people know about Venezuelan music, outside and inside the country, is the ‘joropo.’ That seems to be the one genre that identifies Venezuelan culture, and there is so much more,” says Machado, during a Spanish-language phone interview from the Boston area. The group was there performing and conducting workshops at Brandeis University.

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Great Music, Ocean Breezes, Palm Trees, It Must Be The GroundUP Music Festival Again

Snarky Puppy performing at the opening night of the GroundUP Music Festival at the North Beach Bandshell. Photo courtesy Ground Up Music.

The fourth annual edition of the GroundUP Music Festival, held at the North Beach Bandshell over the Valentine Day´s weekend, was a smartly curated showcase for creative music (borderlines between genres were simply ignored) playing out in a beautiful setting and a low-key atmosphere. It’s a combination that’s hard to beat.

Created and produced by Paul Lehr, CEO of GroundUP Music, Snarky Puppy’s artist-run label, and bassist, composer, and Snarky Puppy instigator Michael League, who is also the festival’s artistic director, the festival reflects some of the group’s musical curiosity and aesthetics and also suggests a collaborative spirit at work that feels at once ambitious and down-to-earth. (The event is presented in conjunction with the local Rhythm Foundation, which manages the Bandshell)

Obviously, the performances are the attraction and the anchor of the GroundUP Music Festival. But outdoor music events are cultural contraptions, as much musical feasts as they are social gatherings and businesses. They have many moving parts which, because of their different purposes, often do not fit right. Here, they do.

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