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Culture 8

Published in Culture Written by October 12 2017 0

American jazz aficionados instinctively know that a satisfying performance of a signature classic – as (for example) by the ever-elegant Ella Fitzgerald – must combine clarity, pitch, purity, control, range, richness, understatement and sincerity.

However: Nobody will ever sing like Ella again (she died in 1996 at age 79). Even some contemporaries -- such as Frank Sinatra -- wisely refused to tread on her American-Songbook-themed albums, as that would be like trampling on orchids.

So, no comparisons possible. Or maybe yes, but in a different way?

Which brings us to Medellin (the ornithological Birdland). But also to Ella Fitzgerald, to the 1940s-1950s Manhattan dreamland, to the Savoy, to Charlie Parker’s Birdland.

Incongruous. Hard to imagine.

Unless you close your eyes, and lend your ears to a troubadour who doesn’t sound anything like Ella, and of course can’t get all the way to her heaven, but still can get you to climb aboard the A Train -- with clarity, pitch, purity, scat, whisper-trailed vibrato, softly suggestive of Brazilian jazz vocalist Gal Costa, and eyes-closed, heaven-seeking sincerity.

Hear those rails-a-thrummin’?

Somewhere over the rainbow, it’s Medellin-born jazz vocalist Claudia Gomez (see: http://www.claudiagomez.com/), a globe-trotting paisa who has performed at some of the world’s top jazz venues (including the Monterey Jazz Festival), composed numerous songs in various genres (inspired by numerous lands), and at long last has found her way – backward and forward in time-- to Ella, and to Medellin.

An attentive, appreciative, Ella-Fitzgerald-loving audience in the times-past paraninfo of Medellin’s Edificio San Ignacio -- in appropriately run-down downtown -- heard Claudia’s time-traveling, dream-inspiring salute to Ella in an October 10 concert, flawlessly accompanied by Medellin jazz pianist Juan David Lopera.

But don’t worry if you missed that show. Gomez will reprise her tribute to Ella Fitzgerald – this time accompanied by Medellin’s Philharmonic Orchestra -- at 5:30 pm Saturday, October 21 at the Uva stage in Medellin’s El Poblado neighborhood. (See: https://www.facebook.com/events/1868732660123131/. For directions to Uva stage, see: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Uva-El-Poblado/936652403150864).

Eyes closed, snapping fingers, Gomez takes a sentimental journey to Harlem, the Savoy, Birdland, lush-life, Ellington, Gershwin, Dizzy, Cole Porter, Rogers & Hart.

Asked about her musical roots and related world travels, Gomez told Medellin Herald: “I lived in San Francisco for 15 years, and while I made my living playing music there, I did not sing jazz, because I was surrounded by the best singers and players in that genre -- and also my compositions were my main work and projection in those years.

"I also sang rock in London in the mid-seventies, and I researched Colombian folk music. So my musical taste is all over the planet.

“I left the Bay Area 19 years ago, went to Spain for four years, and it was there that I timidly started singing jazz, blues.

“I finally am at the point in life where I can sing whatever I like -- and I like a lot of different kinds of music. 

“I play guitar and piano. My music heroes are so many! My influences go from Brazilian music, to jazz, to African folkloric music, and all kinds of folk music from Colombia and elsewhere in Latin America.

“My heroes: guitarists Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery, Toninho Horta, Joao Bosco, Guinga. My favorite singers: Ella Fitzgerald, Elis Regina, Leila Pinheiro, Mercedes Sosa, the 'cantaoras' of the coasts of Colombia have been a great inspiration to me also. And composers: Joao Bosco, Brazilians, Marta Valdes, Cubans.”

Published in Culture Written by August 08 2017 0

The just-concluded, 60th annual “Desfile de Silleteros” (flower-carriers’ parade) – the culmination of the 10-days-long “Feria de las Flores” (flower festival) – once again showed-off Medellin’s growing attraction for global tourists and an enticement for foreign investment and relocation.

This year, John Jairo Grajales Gómez of the “El Porvenir” neighborhood in Medellin’s Santa Elena district took the over-all prize for best “sillete” (flower design), as well as best “traditional” sillete.

According to the Medellin mayor’s office, this year’s parade featured 510 “silleteros,” including 23 graying pioneers that launched the event 60 years ago.

Aside from the hundreds of thousands of spectators that lined Avenida Guayabal to witness this year’s parade (crowd estimated at 800,000)  -- and thousands more viewing the event on five different television channels around Colombia -- the festival also attracted more than 23,000 non-resident visitors to Medellin, of which more than 10,00 were foreigners, according to the mayor’s office.

Another 50,275 persons visited the “Orquideas, Pajaros y Flores” (orchids, birds and flowers) annual show in the Botanical Garden, according to the mayor. Medellin hotel occupation also rose, to around 65% during the 10-days-long festival.

The mayor’s office cited a study by the “Trivago” internet hotel reservation system indicating that 58.4% of foreign visitors to Medellin during the festival -- as well as the “Colombiamoda” fashion show (immediately preceding the festival) -- came from the USA. Travelers from Mexico, Spain, Peru and Ecuador rounded-out the top-five of foreign visitors. 

María Fernanda Galeano, Secretary of Economic Development, added that the event generated more than US$22 million in extra tourist revenues including hotels, taxis, restaurants and services.

Published in Culture Written by September 23 2016 0

Medellin’s Philharmonic Orchestra (“Filarmed”) announced September 22 that it has been nominated for a Latin Grammy award for “Best Tango Album” for its live recorded performance last year of the iconic ballads that made Carlos Gardel the world’s most-famous tango singer.

Published in Culture Written by September 07 2016 0

Medellin’s 20th annual International Jazz Festival launches September 15 featuring top artists including Cuco Valoy, Bobby Valentin, Havana D’Primera and many others.

Published in Culture Written by August 31 2016 0

Even if you missed the 10th annual Medellin Tango Festival in June (see Medellin Herald on June 15, 2016), you don’t have to book air-fare to Buenos Aires to see some outstanding local and international tango musicians and dancers.

Published in Culture Written by July 22 2016 0

Medellin’s 59th annual Desfile de Silleteros (Flower-Carriers Parade) this year is expected to draw more than 800,000 in-person visitors -- plus hundreds of thousands of TV viewers -- for an event that provokes amazement, tears, elation and pride.

Published in Culture Written by June 15 2016 0

The 2016 edition of Medellin’s “Festival Internacional de Tango” steps-out June 17 through June 26 in a spectacle of dance, violins, bandoneones and vocalists.

Published in Culture Written by September 02 2015 0

The “Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellin” (MAMM) on September 2 officially inaugurated its new space – covering nearly 10,000 square meters over five floors (double the prior space) -- and featuring new exhibits, a new theater, terraces and commercial spaces.

SILLETEROS PARADE 2016 by JOHN AND DONNA STORMZAND (click to enlarge)

MEDELLÍN PHOTOS by Gabriel Buitrago (click to enlarge)

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Volunteering February 20 2017 0
As the late North American philosopher A.B. Johnson once quipped, “mighty oaks from little acorns…

About Medellin Herald

Medellin Herald is a locally produced, English-language news and advisory service uniquely focused upon a more-mature audience of visitors, investors, conference and trade-show attendees, property buyers, expats, retirees, volunteers and nature lovers.

U.S. native Roberto Peckham, who founded Medellin Herald in 2015, has been residing in metro Medellin since 2005 and has traveled regularly and extensively throughout Colombia since 1981.

Medellin Herald welcomes your editorial contributions, comments and story-idea suggestions. Send us a message using the "contact" section.

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