Latin jazz song will join klezmer clarinet


NEW MARLBOROUGH -- Musical influences will swirl together when vocalist Maria Rivas and clarinetist Paul Green unite for an evening of Latin/Jewish jazz fusion.

The Venezuelan-born Rivas is celebrating her 30th year as a performing artist, and she is recognized as one of her nation's most visible vocalists in a style that incorporates various strains of Latin jazz while also leaving room for explorations of the Great American Songbook. Green is accomplished in the worlds of classical, jazz and klezmer.

They will perform at the New Marlborough Meeting House on Saturday in the Music & More series.

"Our music has many influences -- African-American, Spanish, North American," said Rivas, contemplating the musical culture in which she was raised, "and I consider that really I am a jazz singer but with the base of world music."

Green and Rivas will join Lincoln Mayorga, a pianist and arranger with a distinguished resume including work on the soundtracks of many major films and projects with artists ranging from Barbra Streisand to Phil Ochs to Frank Zappa; along with bassist Jeff Link and drummer Jonathan Fisher.

The concert will include Latin jazz, some jazz standards, and different flavors of Jewish-derived music. It also will visit prior crossover efforts such as "Ot Azoy," a Yiddish song adapted by Cab Calloway, and "Bei Mir Bistu Shein," a song from the Yiddish theater by Sholom Secunda and Jacob Jacobs that was rewritten into the idiom of swing and became a hit for the Andrews Sisters.

Rivas moved to South Florida nearly two years ago; Green teaches at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. They arrived on each other's radar while each playing a jazz event in Miami; Green was interested in Rivas' interpretation of "A Night In Tu nisia," the 1942 Dizzy Gil lespie/ Frank Paparelli composition that marked an early Latin influence in bebop.

Green mentioned to Rivas that he'd written an arrangement of the Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart chestnut "My Funny Valentine" in the style of Sephardic music, played by the community of Jews who historically had been exiled from Spain and Portugal and preserved a unique mix of Spanish, Middle Eastern and Jewish influences.

Rivas' mother was born in Spain and learned many Seph ardic songs. The potential for musical collaboration was ap parent. The two have played a few shows in Florida, and Green debuted his Jewish/Jazz Project last October at the Made in the Berkshires Festival.

"When he played that song, I felt very inspired and I suggested to him, ‘I would like to make something with you about Jew ish music,' " Rivas explained.

She sings in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian, as well as the Sephardic language Lad ino. She has toured the world, including repeat engagements in Japan, and is best known at home for a 1992 hit "Man duco," which boasts irresistible Latin jazz rhythms.

Green, who owns a house in Pittsfield with his wife and splits time between here and Florida, has trained in classical music and has performed with many symphony orchestras and chamber music groups. He's explored his interest in jazz and klezmer, and even took a break from music to earn a law degree and work in New York firms before he started teaching at Brooklyn Law School. After returning to his instrument, he accepted appointments in classical en sembles, and in 2009, he earned a master's degree in jazz performance.

This concert marks a continuation of Green's examination of relationships between various forms of Jewish music and other influences.

He teamed with saxophonist Charles Neville to examine crossover with the African-American musical tradition in Pittsfield in May, and last month he led a concert at Hancock Shaker Village probing overlaps between the music of Jews and Shakers.

Green's integration of Seph ardic music is somewhat unusual; most of the klezmer that American audiences are familiar with comes from the tradition of Eastern European Jewry.

Sephardic music is "a lot more lyrical, more gently arched mel odies as opposed to a lot of punched out, hard sounds," Green said. "Those are over-gen eralizations, and there can be some overlap, but there's more gentle hills and valleys and a lyricism and sweetness about a lot of the Sephardic music. It's a very different feel."

What: A performance with Latin-jazz vocalist and composer Maria Rivas, clarinetist Paul Green and the Jewish Jazz Project Ensemble will blend jazz, Latin, klezmer and Sephardic music

Where: Meeting House, Route 57, New Marlborough.
Post-concert gala wine tasting hosted by Domaney's, in the Gallery

When: Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

Admission: $25

Information: (413) 229-2785,


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