Courtesy of the artist
The Colombian harpist weaves Cuban son, Brazilian samba and Spanish flamenco into his lovely pan-American jazz.
Edmar Castaneda, harp
Marshall Gilkes, trombone
Dave Silliman, drums and percussion
Joe Locke, vibes
"Cuarto de Colores" (Room of Colors), Castaneda
"Entre Cuerdas" (Among Strings), Castaneda
"Looking Forward," Gilkes
"Jesus de Nazareth," Castaneda
"Autumn Leaves," Jacques Prevert et al
Ozawa Hall is a lofty, beautiful barn in the Berkshires — or maybe a riff on a country church — with natural wood and great acoustics. For the big concerts, the Tanglewood Jazz Festival throws open the back doors to listeners on the lawn. And tonight, the superb acoustic music of Edmar Castaneda and his trio fill the hall and beyond, mesmerizing the people in the seats and the picnickers on the hill.
Looking in, they see an intense young man on his feet, his body wrapped around his Colombian harp — slightly smaller than the classical harp. There's a lone trombonist and, sitting on a box with a hole in it, surrounded by drums and toys, a quick-handed percussionist. That box, by the way, is the South American cajon, energized by slapping. Finally, to be regarded with anticipation, there is an unmanned set of vibes.
Castaneda — born in Bogota in 1978 — is humble, and his story impressive. His father is a musician, and his mother took Edmar and his sister to classes in joropo dance: folkloric dance, accompanied by the harp. At 13, young Edmar began to play. Then, like many Colombians, his family moved to the New York area. Castaneda's official instrument in high school and Five Towns College was the trumpet.
But nights, he worked in restaurants as a solo harpist. While people enjoyed their dinners and his music, Castaneda was inventing himself as a one-man band — melody and harmony, bass lines, percussive effects and all.
Trombonist Marshall Gilkes and drummer/percussionist Dave Silliman are ideal bandmates for Castaneda. A wonderful melodist, Gilkes dispenses funny sonic surprises. Silliman was a longtime member of the late Blossom Dearie's trio. Joe Locke is a four-mallet man. On his most recent JazzSet, Locke led a quartet at the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society in California. He instigates and participates in projects both diverse and international. Only 48 hours before our Tanglewood concert on Aug. 29, 2008, this group played at a festival in Eilat, Israel. They traveled like crazy to get here and offer this set of beautiful music.
The musician-powered ArtistShare label released Castaneda's second album, Entra Cuerdas in April 2009.
Our Surround Sound recording is by Duke Markos, with assistance from Tanglewood Technical Director Tim Martyn, as well as Yujin Cha and Jeffrey Dudzick.