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Imani Winds and Paquito D’Rivera

- Classical and Cultural Connections

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
(Chamber Music Society Website)

Imani Winds and Paquito D’Rivera
(Imani Winds Website)
(Tribute to Paquito D’Rivera Review)

Imani Winds: Valerie Coleman, Flute
Toyin Spellman, Oboe
Miriam Adam, Clarinet/Bass Clarinet
Monica Ellis, Bassoon
Jeff Scott, Horn

Special Guest: Paquito D’Rivera, Clarinet
Alon Yavnai, Piano
Rolando Morales-Matos, Percussion

At Alice Tully Hall
Lincoln Center
(Tully Hall Website)

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 1, 2005


V. Coleman/Jeff Scott: Umoja (1997) / Titilayo (2002), Performed by Coleman, Spellman, Adam, Ellis, Scott, and Morales-Matos.

Imani Winds is an ensemble of attractive young musicians, who compose interesting works, fused with classical, new age, world music, and African and/or Latin instrumental embellishments. Tonight’s special guests are Paquito D’Rivera on clarinet, Alon Yavnai on piano, and Rolando Morales-Matos on Latin percussion.

These two initial works, composed by Imani Winds’ own Valerie Coleman and Jeff Scott, are infused with world music, including Latin percussion, clavé rhythms, bird calls, and rippling flute. One has the sensation of sitting near a pond or walking through the forest in Central America, with bird and insect emulations, enhanced with lyrical flute and vibrant horn. Each instrument has its own solo, against mellow, mellifluous, and melancholy refrains. New Age intonations, along with Rolando Morales-Matos’ Latin timbales, create a fascinating sound.

Ravel (arr. Mason Jones): Le Tombeau de Couperin (1914-1917): Prelude (Vif), Fugue (Allegro Moderato), Menuet (Allegro Moderato), Rigaudon (Assez vif) , Performed by Coleman, Spellman, Adam, Ellis, Scott.

This work, which has served as a ballet or modern dance score, is mesmerizing with rapturous, echoing themes and soaring flute. Rippling bassoon, oboe, flute, and clarinet, against the stillness of the horn, make Le Tombeau a favorite work for orchestras and ensembles. Imani Winds did justice to this popular piece, and I envisioned dancers in the wings.

Janáèek: Mládí Sextet for Winds (1924): Allegro, Andante sostenuto, Vivace, Allegro animato, Performed by Coleman, Spellman, D’Rivera, Adam, Ellis, Scott.

The Janáèek was the least compelling of tonight’s selections. Its cold, abstract nature did not seem to fit with the rest of the program, and the expanse of Tully Hall did not allow for an intimate attachment to the music. Even though Paquito D’Rivera joined the ensemble on clarinet, he seems most at home with works that have passion and personality, either classical or Latin or traditional jazz. The solos, however, were eloquent, especially the flute and oboe, and the dissonant sharpness lent an esoteric effect to the evening’s program.

V. Coleman: Quintet for Woodwinds (World Premiere, 2005), Performed by Coleman, Spellman, Adam, Ellis, Scott.

This work, composed by Valerie Coleman, flautist, contained some hypnotic and meandering music. Ms. Coleman addressed the audience in an engaging and enthusiastic manner, prior to the performance, and this personal touch was lovely to experience.

Paquito D’Rivera: Kites Over Havana (NY Premiere, 2004): Kites Over Havana, Wind Chimes, Performed by Coleman, Spellman, D’Rivera, Adam, Ellis, Scott, Yavnai, Morales-Matos.

The highlight of the evening was Kites Over Havana, Paquito D’Rivera’s commissioned work for this event. Paquito, ever the charming personality, told the audience about his honor and joy to create this work, based on the culture of his native Cuba. The two movements, Kites Over Havana and Wind Chimes, were characteristically conceived for Afro-Cuban embellishments with classical themes.

Each musician recited anonymous poetry that inspired Paquito, such as “I would like to try to reach the sky with butterflies and bees”. Paquito’s clarinet built rapid rippling volume, over the bassoon’s lead. Solos merged into Cuban clave on bongos, and a hint of instrumental Mambo, enhanced by Paquito’s clarinet, stopped short to allow the percussion to carry solo rhythms. Alon Yavnai’s dreamy piano solo joined the bongos and then took over the Mambo moment, and I could envision Kites Over Havana.

Piazzolla (Arr. Jeff Scott): Libertango (1974), Performed by Coleman, Spellman, D’Rivera, Adam, Ellis, Scott, Yavnai, Morales-Matos.

Astor Piazzolla’s music has been frequently reviewed. Piazzolla’s Libertango is an exciting piece of music and served as the score for the film, The Tango Lesson, with tango star, Pablo Veron. Imani Winds, Paquito D’Rivera, Alon Yavnai, and Rolando Morales-Matos all made the most of this wild and wanton work. There was nothing casual in their approach, and this Argentinean tango piece, arranged and orchestrated tonight for listening and entertainment, was the perfect closer for a great evening of classical, Afro-Cuban, and Argentinean compositions. The absent bandoneón’s lead was tonight performed by the flute, then the clarinet, then the piano, and later the bassoon. This octet was pulsating with the passion of tango.

Kudos to Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center for producing this wonderful program.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at