Jazz at Lincoln Center
Wynton Marsalis, Artistic Director
Derek E. Gordon, President & CEO
Katherine E. Brown, Executive Director
Miguel Poveda, Flamenco Vocalist
Giovanni Hidalgo on Percussion
Juan Gómez Chicuelo on Flamenco Guitar
Frederick P. Rose Hall
The Allen Room
Broadway at 60th Street
Scott Thompson, Press
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 20, 2006
Miguel Poveda, recipient of musical festival awards, has also appeared in films, international Flamenco Festivals, and on stage in Spain and around the globe. Giovanni Hidalgo, of Puerto Rico, played congas and other percussion since childhood. He learned new techniques in Cuba and performed with the United Nations Jazz Orchestra with Dizzy Gillespie. He has recorded numerous albums. Juan Gómez Chicuelo studied guitar in the Flamenco clubs as a child, and then worked in Barcelona with numerous renowned artists. He has participated in festivals and Flamenco groups and accompanies singers around the globe, especially Miguel Poveda. (JALC Notes).
There is no jazz club in this city more romantic or riveting than The Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center. The massive and unique floor to ceiling windows, facing sky, skyline, Central Park, and Central Park South traffic routes, in all kinds of weather and seasons, provide the best views ever, while listening to renowned jazz artists chosen from a variety of musical genres and cultures. Tonight we were treated to Miguel Poveda, Flamenco vocalist, who was joined by Giovanni Hidalgo on percussion and Juan Gómez Chicuelo on Flamenco guitar. It’s rare to hear Flamenco vocals, minus the dancers, so tonight’s focus on the listening, rather than the visual, was a rare experience.
The first set began with Hidalgo on congas, soon joined by Poveda in soaring chants in Spanish, so reminiscent of the numerous Flamenco events I’ve enjoyed through the years. Poveda’s vocals were agonizing, agile, and accented. I could translate some of the phrases, romantically resonant lyrics, but the audience of mostly Spanish speaking, Flamenco enthusiasts certainly had an edge on lyrical intent. Yet, the meaning of the chants was of little import, as it was the building of volume and emotion that seemed to transport the listener. There was a highly spiritual quality to these songs, as they created contrasts in intensity and sensitivity. Some songs died down to a whisper, while others cried out in angst.
When Chicuelo arrived, Poveda left the stage, for the duo congas and guitar. On return, he greeted the crowd, speaking only in Spanish. Throughout the evening, it was Hidalgo that added English comments, such as greetings and thanks to Jazz at Lincoln Center. As the set progressed, a solo guitar warmed the mood for Poveda’s pleading vocals, rapturous and religious in motif. During this surreal song, there was a police drill of seemingly hundreds of flashing cars on Central Park South, with roadblocks and moving red-yellow lights in repetitious formation, now obvious through the giant window, and suddenly The Allen Room became a dramatic urban backdrop, rocking with Latin percussion, rhythmic guitar, and rich, deep, vocals. I almost thought I was entering a film by Buñuel. To end the first set, Hidalgo took sticks to his percussion, and all three musicians merged their instruments for endless vowels joined by equally, endless rhythmic repetitions.
The second set began with Poveda almost dancing in place, as he warmed to the adoring crowd and added muscular movement to his vocal vibrancy. As the mood switched on Chicuelo’s re-entrance, Hidalgo left for the duo vocals and guitar. The mellifluous strings became more rapid and resonant, with insistent passages that enhanced the emotional quality of Poveda’s song. This Flamenco vocalist has an obvious, total mind-body focus, as he visually throws himself into the psyche of his lyrics. The final song of this second set, with a superb Salsa beat, found Hidalgo going wild on all five congas. After a standing ovation, an encore satisfied a craving for more. The trio of musicians used it all, with Hidalgo snapping his sticks on anything that had steel and replicating the sound of Flamenco dancers’ shoes on his congas. Chicuelo raced through repetitious guitar chords, and Poveda found more strength in his elongated vowels and electrified lyrics.
Check www.jalc.org for current and upcoming jazz calendars at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Photo courtesy of Miguel Poveda