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S48 Ep27

Roots of Latin Jazz

Premiere: 7/16/2021 | 00:00:31 | Closed Captioning Icon

Celebrate the rhythms of Latin music with the Raices Jazz Orchestra and performances by GRAMMY-winning artists including Richard Bona and Anaadi. Hosted by Sheila E. A co-presentation of Great Performances and Latino Public Broadcasting’s VOCES.



About the Episode

GRAMMY nominee Sheila E. hosts Great Performances: Roots of Latin Jazz, which examines the variety of Latin American music with the “Raíces Jazz Orchestra,” featuring two-time Latin GRAMMY-winning producer Tony Succar and musician, producer and educator Dr. Pablo Gil. The documentary premieres Friday, July 16 at 10 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) and is a special co-presentation of Great Performances and Latino Public Broadcasting’s VOCES. Both programs will also stream on and the PBS Video app.

Produced by two-time Latin GRAMMY-winning producer Tony Succar, Great Performances: Roots of Latin Jazz reveals the unity between jazz music and Latin culture. Showcasing original compositions and arrangements of jazz standards, such as “Eye of the Hurricane” by Herbie Hancock and “Mas que Nada” by Jorge Ben, the film features GRAMMY-winning artists Richard Bona and Anaadi, among others. Location sequences capture the vibrancy of cities in the U.S., Peru, Spain, Brazil and Cuba.

Throughout its more than 40-year history on PBS, Great Performances has provided an unparalleled showcase of the best in all genres of the performing arts, serving as America’s most prestigious and enduring broadcaster of cultural programming. The series is available for streaming simultaneously on all station-branded PBS platforms, including and the PBS Video app, which is available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Chromecast. PBS station members can view episodes via Passport (contact your local PBS station for details). Great Performances is produced by The WNET Group.

Great Performances: Roots of Latin Jazz is co-directed by Tony Succar and David Rousseau, produced by Tony Succar with Donald H. Thoms as executive producer For VOCES, Luis Ortiz is Managing Director and Sandie Viquez Pedlow is Executive Producer.  For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer and David Horn is Executive Producer.

Major funding for Great Performances is provided by The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, Jody and John Arnhold, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, the Thea Petschek Iervolino Foundation, Rosalind P. Walter, The Starr Foundation, the Seton Melvin Charitable Trust, the Estate of Worthington Mayo-Smith, Ellen and James S. Marcus, public television viewers and PBS.


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-Next on 'Great Performances'... -I'm Sheila E., your host for a passionate journey into Latin jazz music.

[ Latin jazz music playing ] -Award-winning musicians Tony Succar and Pablo Gil explore the deep and intricate rhythms throughout Latin America and beyond.

-How many years, centuries that this goes back to Africa, to Spain, how it migrated to Cuba, and then how it developed in each and every country.

-[ Singing in foreign language ] -We try to work with the authentic performers, that vital experience of how those genres are played and performed.

[ Latin jazz music playing ] -Join us for a celebration of the variety of Latin music and culture.

-The passion of the history that lives in our hearts that we can't describe with words.

-Whoo! The percussion.

-The 'Roots of Latin Jazz,' next.

♪♪♪ -Major funding for this presentation of 'Great Performances' and 'Voces' is provided by... [ Latin jazz music playing ] -Raices Jazz Orchestra takes you on a musical journey, exploring the roots of Latin music with big-band jazz.

Recorded over five countries with musicians from all over the world, Raices tells the story of Latinx culture.

This is their story.

♪♪♪ -Percussion, it's the feeling, it's the passion.

Who better than Sheila to be able to, like, solidify that, huh?

[ Latin jazz music playing ] ♪♪♪ -Crossing all these genres, countries and the culture in one place, it was only the two of you that could do what just happened.

-Elegant, sophisticated, swinging.

-Pure passion, fire.

That's what this is about.

[ Latin jazz music playing ] -Ah, Succar.

-Welcome to 'Raices: Roots of Latin Jazz.'

I'm Sheila E., and I'm ready to dance and sing as we listen and learn through the roots of Latin music.

This electrifying journey brings passion and soul as we travel the world with Latin Grammy Award-winning producer and performer Tony Succar, and co-leader Dr. Pablo Gil's Raices Jazz Orchestra.

They re-energize these timeless Latin rhythms in a big-band jazz format.

Are you ready? Let's go!

♪♪♪ Our first song fuses the congas of Cuba with the jazz of the hard-bop era.

Raices takes us back to when Afro-Cuban rhythms first traveled from Havana to Harlem and into the heart of jazz.

Sprinkling some into the melting pot of America to create the Latin jazz we know today.

What you're about to hear is a tribute to the rich immigrant culture that made this fusion possible.

This new arrangement of a Herbie Hancock classic captures the perfect storm of Afro-Cuban and American jazz coming together.

Here is our first performance -- 'Eye of the Hurricane.'

[ Latin jazz music playing ] ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [ Beating pandeiro ] Whoo! Yes!

Now Raices goes to Porto Alegre, where the sounds of samba inspired their rendition of one of Brazil's most famous songs.

The pandeiro is a symbol of Brazil's deep musical heritage.

Like Afro-Cuban and other tropical genres, samba is just as much an explosion of dance and passion as it is a style of music.

Whether sung in Portuguese or Spanish, the language of celebration is universal across Latin America.

Raices combines that spirit with the Afro-Brazilian traditions that inspired it by bringing the berimbau into the big-band rendition of a Jorge Ben classic.

Latin Grammy Award-winning singer Anaadi invites us to dance as we step into 'Más Que Nada.'

[ Latin jazz music playing ] ♪♪♪ -Tony Succar.


♪♪♪ Raices.

♪♪♪ ♪ O, ariá-raió ♪ ♪ Obá-obá-obá ♪ ♪ Ooh-ariá-raió ♪ ♪ Obá-obá-obá ♪ ♪ Mais que nada ♪ ♪ Sai da minha frente que eu quero passar ♪ ♪ Pois o samba está animado ♪ ♪ O que eu quero é sambar ♪ ♪ Esse samba ♪ ♪ Que é misto de maracatuiu ♪ ♪ E samba de preto velho ♪ ♪ Samba de preto tu ♪ ♪ Mas que nada ♪ ♪ Um samba como esse tao legal ♪ ♪ Você nao vai querer ♪ ♪ Que eu chegue no final ♪ ♪ O, ariá-raió ♪ ♪ Obá-obá-obá ♪ ♪ Obá, ah, ah ♪ ♪ Ooh-ariá-raió ♪ ♪ Obá-obá-obá ♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [ Singing in Portuguese ] ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪ Berimbau, berimbau ♪ ♪ Berimbau, berimbau, berimbau ♪ ♪ Berimbau, berimbau ♪ ♪ Berimbau, berimbau, berimbau ♪ ♪ Berimbau, berimbau ♪ ♪ Berimbau, berimbau, berimbau ♪ [ Singing in Portuguese ] ♪ Berimbau ♪ ♪ Berimbau, berimbau, berimbau ♪ ♪ Berimbau, berimbau ♪ ♪ Berimbau, berimbau, berimbau ♪ ♪ Berimbau, berimbau ♪ ♪ Berimbau, berimbau, berimbau ♪ ♪ Berimbau, berimbau ♪ ♪ Berimbau, berimbau, berimbau ♪ ♪ Berimbau, berimbau ♪ ♪ Berimbau, berimbau, berimbau ♪ ♪ Berimbau, berimbau ♪ ♪ Berimbau, berimbau, berimbau ♪ [ Singing in Portuguese ] ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [ Singing in Portuguese continues ] ♪ Mais que nada ♪ ♪ Sai da minha frente que eu quero passar ♪ ♪ Pois o samba está animado ♪ ♪ O que eu quero é sambar ♪ ♪ Esse samba ♪ ♪ Que é misto de maracatuiu ♪ ♪ E samba de preto velho ♪ ♪ Samba de preto tu ♪ -[ Singing in Portuguese ] ♪♪♪ -[ Singing in Portuguese ] ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [ Singing in Portuguese continues ] ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ -I feel like Latin jazz is that expression.

It's music that it cures my soul.

Intellectual, where we need to prepare ourselves to become masters at our craft, but at the same time never loses that element of the goose bumps, the element of the passion, of the history that lives within our hearts that we can't describe with words.

-Our collaboration, they are such beautiful and, you know, grateful moments, unforgettable for the people in the samba school, for the people in the [speaks Portuguese] from all the musicians, you know, everybody is in love with Tony's and Pablo's work and everybody is in love with the idea of us, us from here, us making international connections.

♪♪♪ -What an incredible blend of Brazilian and Latin jazz.

Now, this is the cajón.

[ Beating cajón ] Whoo! The percussion.

At the center of Peruvian music.

With this instrument, Tony taps into his Peruvian roots on this next performance.

For Raices and much of the Latinx community, these are the grooves of our grandparents and passed on from generation to generation.

They were played on boxes, donkey jaws, and anything else that could be turned into an instrument.

The Afro-Peruvian festejo rhythm was made for the cajón.

So feel the fire flowing through our next performance -- 'Feste Fuego.'

[ Latin jazz music playing ] ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ -I just knew that it was gonna come out powerful and authentic, because you live that music.

-I came to the United States when I was 2 years old, but the first instrument I played was a cajón.

Being able to go to Peru to record with these incredible percussionists that know the genre in and out, these type of fusions that you have these big-band orchestrations so rich in musicality, but with the Afro-Peruvian sentiment was killer.

[ Beating cajón ] -Now, that is fire!

As we move through Peru, Raices introduces us to the polyrhythm style of Landó. This relaxed rhythm allows us to explore the indigenous roots of Peruvian music.

Pulling from Peru's rich native heritage, the sound of the quena was brought out of the Andes and into the studio.

Raices invited quena master Checho Cuadros to play modern melodies on this ancient flute like it was nothing at all.

Let's take a trip to the Andes, where we go Perú Lando.

[ Lando music playing ] ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ -♪ Raices ♪ ♪ Perú Lando ♪ ♪♪♪ ♪ Raices ♪ ♪ Perú Lando ♪ ♪♪♪ ♪ Raices ♪ ♪ Perú Lando ♪ ♪♪♪ ♪ Raices ♪ ♪ Perú Lando ♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪ Perú Lando ♪ ♪♪♪ ♪ Perú Lando ♪ ♪♪♪ ♪ Perú Lando ♪ ♪♪♪ ♪ Perú Lando ♪ ♪♪♪ ♪ Perú Lando ♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [ Lando music playing ] ♪♪♪ -It makes you want to dance and the history.

I mean, how many years, centuries that this goes back to Africa, to Spain, obviously then how it migrated to Cuba, and then how it developed in each and every country.

And it's great that we're gonna be able to tell the story through this experience.

-We come down from the Andes and back to the roots of our music.

Latin jazz exists today because of the African artists who've kept their traditions alive, even as the horrors of the slave trade scattered them across the Americas.

While much was lost in their travels, the music and the language of the Yoruba tribe survived in Cuba.

The Afro-Cuban rhythms of the batá drums were part of their heritage.

In honor of that African heritage, Raices brought Richard Bona and Osaín del Monte together for this next performance.

-[ Scatting ] I'm just passionate with music.

Afro-Cuban music and all music that mix are really interesting to me because you know what?

I didn't get a chance to go to school.

Okay, so to me, I don't need to read history.

Through music, I make my own story.

When you listen my bass playing, it's actually the combination of all instruments I played before.

So that's how it's actually difficult for me even to explain what it is.

Like sometimes I used to go and ask my grandfather -- You know, he was a percussion player.

So... how do you guys process this one?

You see, you don't explain.

It just happens.

[ Latin jazz music playing ] [ Singing in foreign language ] ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [ Singing in foreign language continues ] ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [ Singing in foreign language continues ] ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [ Singing in foreign language continues ] ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [ Singing in foreign language continues ] ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [ Singing in foreign language continues ] ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ Ah, Succar.

-We try to work with the authentic performers, the people that are going to bring that special flavor, that vital experience of how those genres are played and performed.

-And it's interesting to see how they interpret our music, too, because we don't come from that traditional form.

And I feel like, when we present them with music from our influences, then they take it to, like, another level and they bring the authenticity into it.

And that's what makes the magic of this music.

-From the roots of our music in Africa, Raices branches out to Spain to explore the Spanish tinge within Latin jazz.

Blending this guitar with claps and steps of flamenco is the sound of Spain.

Embracing new fusions, Raices made its way to Madrid to bring the style of flamenco to the big-band jazz format.

Come enjoy the passion and heat of a 'Midnight in Spain.'

[ Flamenco music playing ] [ Clapping rhythmically ] ♪♪♪ -♪ La la la la la la ♪ ♪♪♪ [ Tapping rhythmically ] ♪♪♪ [ Vocalizing ] ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [ Vocalizing continues ] ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ -[ Vocalizing ] ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ -[ Vocalizing ] ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [ Vocalizing continues ] ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ -What a wonderful ode to Spain.

Our next song takes us to Venezuela to unite the sound of Pablo's home country with big-band jazz.

Born on the plains of Colombia and Venezuela, joropo is a shining example of folk music in Latin America.

With a shake of the maracas and the strings of the cuatro, people come together to sing and dance in celebration of life.

Inspired by this Venezuelan heritage, Raices took a song about Tony's grandfather and added joropo elements and big-band instrumentation into the mix.

From the plains of Venezuela, the family bonds of Peru, and the streets of America, here is 'Pa Oyichan.'

[ Latin jazz music playing ] ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ -Going to the sources was a key thing, and for me that was one of the highlights, because it was a learning experience for me.

As a percussionist, as a world-music lover, you're gonna fly through these countries.

You're gonna feel that because of the musicianship, because of the instrumentation and the heart that's behind it.

-It has been amazing visiting all these countries through their music.

But Raices' journey to uncover our roots needs to make one last stop in a place where Latin jazz began.

Built on the foundations of multiculturalism and unity, the team behind Raices Jazz Orchestra draws from their experiences in America, merging the rhythms of R&B and pop music with the sounds of Latin America.

Just like with our unique blend of Spanglish, we bring our words to your music and combine them to create a one-of-a-kind fusion of culture.

My love of Latin music was passed down to me by my dad, the legendary Latin jazz artist Pete Escovedo, and my godfather, Tito Puente, 'El Rey -- the king -- 'de los timbales.'

I love listening to this beautiful fusion of our musical heritage and big-band jazz.

It would be an honor to jam with the Raices crew.

[ Latin jazz music playing ] ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [ Laughing ] Thank you for joining us on this incredible tour of Latin culture and jazz.

The work of Tony, Pablo, and the rest of the Raices Jazz Orchestra offers a bridge between our music's folkloric past and global future.

Through these songs, our passions, our stories, and our ancestors live on.

I'm Sheila E., and thank you for listening, watching, dancing, singing, and having a wonderful time.


[ Latin jazz music playing ] ♪♪♪ -To find out more about this and other 'Great Performances' programs, visit

Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ -What inspired you to have this passion for Latin music and Latin Caribbean music?

-It's because of my dad.

He had an extensive collection of different genres of music.

And he said, 'There's not enough that we could ever learn.'

We should be students of life forever.'

So he encouraged us to listen to Latin jazz.

He brought jazz music, he brought Motown, R&B, funk, and then he advised me at the age of 9 to learn classical music and play violin.

I think that's what makes us who we are as the Escovedo family.

We encompass all the music that we grew up listening to, all the different genres of music.


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