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Bobby McFerrin & Los Hombres Calientes

Bobby McFerrin, from a publicity photo  

Bobby McFerrin

A cute young fella named Bobby McFerrin had been playing and singing in a piano bar on the Florida Gulf Coast. He took a side trip to New Orleans, where he sat in with a new jazz group, Astral Project at the Old Absinthe, a French Quarter bar, in 1979.

Bobby was working on his vocal arrangements, and Astral Project was setting its direction toward lyrical improvisation on a ferocious, or delicate, New Orleans beat.

Together, they played four nights a week for five months. Then Bobby moved on to San Francisco to become a tremendous solo artist, improvising vocalist, choral arranger and now symphony conductor. The awesome Astral Project continues to transcend musical categories as well. JazzSet captured a 1999 Bobby McFerrin/Astral Project reunion, outdoors in Cain Park in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. It's one of our favorite recordings, ever.

Los Hombres Calientes, from a publicity photo  

Los Hombres Calientes

Los Hombres Calientes (the hot men!) is all about "N'Awlins." Opening our second segment onstage at the 2002 San Jose Jazz Fest, leader Bill Summers calls up hometown gourmet delights, from beignets to oysters to crawfish etouffee and beyond.

For Los Hombres Calientes, New Orleans is the northern-most Caribbean country. The band has traveled to Trinidad, Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica and even Brazil, to meet musicians and record five CDs for the Basin Street Records label. Rolling Stone magazine calls the concept "a brilliant travelogue."

Yet it's not so much about differences between these countries; it's about cultural similarities, exciting your ear and moving your feet.

"I Mean You" by Thelonious Monk
"Moondance" by Van Morrison
"Voodoo Bop" by Steve Masakowski
"St. Thomas/Dance with Me" medley

Themes from Cuba
"I Shot the Sheriff" from Jamaica
New Orleans parade theme

Astral Project
Tony Dagradi, saxophone
Steve Masakowski, guitar
David Torkanowsky, piano
Jim Singleton, bass
Johnny Vidacovich, drums

Los Hombres Calientes
Co-leaders: Irvin Mayfield, Jr., trumpet, and Bill Summers, percussion
Leon Brown, trumpet
Steve Walker, trombone
Devon Philips, tenor sax
Victor Atkins, piano
Edwin Livingston, bass
Ricky Sebastian, drums


  • Bobby McFerrin
  • Astral Project
  • Cain Park
  • Los Hombres Calientes/Basin Street Records
  • San Jose Jazz Society

    Producer Becca Pulliam; Executive Producer Thurston Briscoe III @ Jazz 88, WBGO in Newark Ginger Bruner, recording engineer, @ KUNV in Las Vegas

    For the McFerrin / Astral Project recording @ Cain Park, Cleveland Heights, Ohio
    Thanks to the concert producers, the City of Cleveland Heights together with the Northeast Ohio Jazz Society
    Thanks to Janet Barlow
    Field producer Lisa Stewart
    Recording engineer Duke Markos

    For the Los Hombres Calientes recording @ San Jose Jazz Festival
    Thanks to Steve Saperstein
    Field producer Duke Markos
    Recording engineer Phil Edwards
    Assistants Bill Rock and Brian Edwards

    Copyright 2007 NPR