Profile - Mark Weinstein
The incomparable Mark Weinstein
All photos of Mark Weinstein this page by kind courtesy of the artist. All photographs are copyright material and all rights reserved.
|Sub-Genre/s:||Afro-Cuban, Latin, Afro-Latin, Brazilian, Contemporary, World, Straight-Ahead, Post-Bop|
|Date Info First Pub'd:||2005-04-10 (upd. 2008-08)|
|Watch Mark Weinstein Videos|
Mark Weinstein in the studio on bass flute
Mark Weinstein on concert flute
Jazz flutist and legend Mark Weinstein grew up in Brooklyn, NY and started his musical studies with piano lessons from the age of six. Sometime between then and the age of fourteen, when he started to play trombone, he also tried clarinet and drums. His first professional gig on trombone came at fifteen. Weinstein soon doubled on string bass, a common practice in New York City at the time, learning to play Latin bass from Salsa bandleader Larry Harlow.
Experimenting with playing trombone with Harlow's band, Mark Weinstein went on to form Eddie Palmieri's first trombone section along with Barry Rogers three years later. This changed the sound of salsa forever, and Weinstein continued to be a major contributor to the development of salsa trombone playing as well as arranging. With his heart deeply in jazz, Mark Weinstein extended jazz attitudes and techniques in his playing with salsa bands, and his arrangements both broadened the harmonic base of salsa as well as extended its authenticity and depth through the introduction of folkloric elements. His playing and arranging remained a major influence on salsa trombone as well as brass writing throughout the 1960s and 70s and beyond.
The catalogue of Mark Weinstein's performing and recording credits in this era reads like a "Who's Who" of salsa and Latin jazz of that period, both as a sideman and as a featured soloist, as well as arranger. He played with or was featured with as well as recorded with such other illustrious names as Larry Harlow, Charlie Palmieri, the great Cuban trumpeter Alfredo Chocolate Armenteros, Orchestra Harlow, Panamanian giant Victor Paz in the La Playa Sextet, the Alegre All Stars, Eddie Palmieri, Cal Tjader, and Tito Puente. Weinstein also toured for years with Herbie Mann and also recorded with him, and also played with Maynard Ferguson, and the big bands of Joe Henderson, Lionel Hampton, Clark Terry, Jones and Lewis, Duke Pearson and Kenny Dorham.
Then came 1967, that fateful, amazing year. The Beatles turned popular music/rock completely inside out and downside up and whatever else you like with their revolutionary Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album (and took the concept album one step further as well) and stunned the world. Mark Weinstein's creative activity that year was no less revolutionary and stunning and plain mind-blowing, though sadly it didn't receive such wide-spread recognition at the time. Weinstein wrote and recorded one of the most seminal albums in the history of jazz, certainly the most seminal in Latin jazz, Cuban Roots, an album that would soon attain legendary and cult status among the relatively small number of aficionados and musicians who heard it (or a tape rip-off). Produced by legendary salsa producer Al Santiago, Cuban Roots featured, in addition to Mark Weinstein on 'bone, a young Chick Corea on piano (on the eve of his stint with Miles Davis), Julito Callazo, Tommy Lopez and Papaito from Sonora Matencera, Papiro, and Kako on percussion, Arnie Lawrence on alto, Mario Rivera on bari, and Bobby Valentin on bass. Recorded in a single three-hour session and consisting entirely of complete first takes, the album sadly received very little technical attention from the record company, Musicor, with only minimal mixing, and even less promotion/marketing. (The original release probably only numbered 500, though tape copies soon started to make the rounds, which is how I first heard it.) The technical quality may well have been near-atrocious, but the music just blew you away. Never before had authentic Cuban folk rhythms and Santeria rhythms been heard outside a folk setting, certainly not in jazz, and combined with the harmonically complex extended jazz solos and ensemble arrangements, this made Mark Weinstein's Cuban Roots a revelation on an epic scale. Cuban Roots revolutionised Latin jazz and paved the way for new generations of Latin/Afro-Cuban jazz musicians who were influenced by it, directly or indirectly.
However, the lack of critical acclaim at the time left Mark Weinstein somewhat disillusioned with the music business, and in the early 1970s he took a sabbatical from music to gain a PhD in philosophy and subsequently also pursued an academic career. All the same, Weinstein never left the music business altogether. Also during the early part of the 70s, he switched from trombone to flute, and in 1976/7 he recorded another album in the mold of Cuban Roots, The Orisha Suite, but where Cuban Roots was masculine, edgy, raw energy, The Orisha Suite was feminine, soft, gentle, and highly sensuous. Mark Weinstein, now on flute and marimba, was joined by another top-flight line-up for The Orisha Suite, but sadly the album was not released at the time though it is now available on a CD re-release of Cuban Roots.
Through the 70s and into the 80s, Weinstein kept perfecting his flute and playing with street bands and similar. He also still kept busy arranging. In the 1990s Mark Weinstein made a full and almost explosive return to jazz, gigging and especially recording like a man possessed, and his recording output since then has been amazingly prolific and creative, amounting to seventeen albums so far. His 2005 Algo Mas is the third in the series of Cuban Roots albums, as surprising and breathtaking as the original Cuban Roots, with some of the most amazing as well as endearing bass and alto flute ever, and the most exciting Afro-Cuban jazz album since Weinstein's Cuban Roots Revisited. It also made Jazziz magazine's "Critics Pick of the Year” and was picked by “Latin Jazz Network” as one of best recordings of 2005, while Latin Beat Magazine named it "Best of the Year". A year later, O Nosso Amor made No. 1 in radio play nationwide in the US and "Best Brazilian Jazz Record". 2007's Con Alma, a straight-ahead Latin jazz album of classics by Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter, charted for an amazing 26 weeks, hitting No. 1 in the JazzWeek World Music Chart and No. 2 in the Jazz Chart. Con Alma also won Mark Weinstein the vote as "Best Latin Jazz Flautist of 2007" (Latin Jazz Corner). 2008 has already seen the release of Straight, No Chaser, a straight-ahead album, and a further release is scheduled for October, Lua E Sol, another return to Brazilian themes. At least two further projects are at an advanced stage, one a free jazz album recorded with Omar Sosa, Jean Paul Bourelly and African musicians, and a (here, long hoped-for) excursion into tango with among others bassist Pablo Aslan and bandoneon player Raul Jaurena.
Mark Weinstein with, from left, Francisco PanchoNavarro, Raul Jaurena, Pablo Aslan, Abel Rogantini,
during a break from recording a forthcoming tango album
There is never any let-up to Mark Weinstein's creativity, but such is the burden of true genius. His range of music is as wide as could be and includes straight-ahead, post-bop, free jazz, straight-ahead Latin jazz, Afro-Cuban jazz, Brazilian, Jewish music, crossovers to classical, Indian themes, African of course, now tango - there is simply no limiting or tying down this jazz giant. Mark Weinstein's acknowledged influences are just as wide-ranging - Alfredo Chocolate Armenteros, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Mingus and Herbie Mann. Like the latter, Weinstein now plays flute and nothing but flute, be it soprano, alto, or bass, sometimes all three (multi-tracked) on the same track. His voice is one of the most distinctive ever on flute and is absolutely adorable and gorgeous. As a jazz flutist, today Mark Weinstein is peerless. As a jazz musician, he is a colossus and legend.
It is highly gratifying that over recent years, Mark Weinstein has at long last begun to receive some of the critical as well as peer acclaim that he as earned many times over for so long.
Tales From The Earth
Cuban Roots & The Orisha Suite
Jazz World Trios
Cuban Roots Revisited
Tudo De Bom
1967 Cuban Roots (Musicor MM4038)
1961 Que Gente Averigua - Mon Rivera - Trombone
Lua e Sol
O Nosso Amor
Straight No Chaser
Mark Weinstein's recordings can be purchased:
Direct from the artist
From Jewish Music Distribution JMD UK
From Hatikvah Music International (US)
From most general CD stores and online sources such as Amazon etc.
All rights reserved.