Una Noche Con Rubén Blades (Blue Engine Records)

Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra With Wynton Marsalis

Released October 19, 2018

Grammy Nominee for Best Latin Jazz Album 2020






“I’ve known Rubén Blades since I was two years old—or at least I feel like I have. His albums—and the sound and the warmth they generated—filled my family’s apartment at 146th and Brook Ave. in the Bronx, and his music was one of my earliest influences. I recognized even as a child that the social messages that lie at the core of his songs resonated with my parents. Rubén has always known how to distill his heart and values into his music, how to exhort listeners to fight for equality and break down racial barriers.

Rubén himself knows the power of encountering music at a young age. The musical lessons his mother (a pianist) gave him as a child and the life lessons that famed Panamanian trumpeter Víctor “Vitín” Paz offered him as a teen were just the foundations for his future musical adventures. Salsa in the 1970s could probably be described as the Blades Era: his collaborations with artists like Willie Colón, Ray Barretto, and the Fania All-Stars helped redefine the genre. He is also at least partially responsible for putting Héctor Lavoe on the map with his own “El Cantante,” a song Rubén wrote while working in the mail room of famed salsa record label Fania.

No matter what sounds Rubén encountered—be it jazz, Latin, or the indigenous music of Panama—he made them his own. His wide-ranging musical fascinations are why it’s so easy to call his own music _mixtura_—it’s one grand mixture, after all—and one of his great talents is understanding the power of integrating different genres. In November 2014, Rubén joined the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis for several beautiful performances. I had the privilege of being the show’s music director and developing the show’s concept, which showcased the JLCO’s expertise in unifying different musical traditions as one.

Our Orchestra is living proof of just how much harmony you can create by joining different strands of music together. Jazz stands as the true American art form precisely because it’s a musical melting pot, bringing many generations and cultures and ethnicities together in the pursuit of unity. From Manuel Perez to the Tio family, from the 18 Puerto Ricans who made up the Harlem Hellfighters to Benny Goodman’s integrated band, from tubist Ralph Escudero to Jelly Roll to Mario Bauzá to Dizzy Gillespie and beyond, jazz is the story of taking old parts and building something new.

When Rubén joined us for our performances at Rose Theater, we did exactly that using the Great American Songbook and the Afro-Cuban rhythms that propel all the wonderful music that Rubén sang that evening. The music I arranged for Rubén Blades to perform with the Orchestra sounds like Panama, New Orleans, and New York all mixed into one. Those sounds form the heart of all of our stories as musicians, and in combining them we reaffirmed that we’re all in this together.”

Carlos Henriquez

Track Listing:

1. Carlos Henriquez Introduction 00:38

2. Ban Ban Quere 06:30

3. Too Close for Comfort 05:55

4. El Cantante 08:43

5. I Can’t Give You Anything But Love 06:40

6. Apóyate en Mi Alma 05:50

7. Pedro Navaja (Rubén Blades) 08:09

8. Begin the Beguine (Cole Porter) 07:39

9. Sin Tu Cariño (Rubén Blades / Louie Ramírez) 07:48

10. Rubén’s Medley: Ligia Elena/El Número 6/Juan Pachanga (Rubén Blades / Jerry Masucci / Louie Ramírez) 12:06

11. Patria (Encore) (Rubén Blades) 06:52


Rubén Blades: vocals

Dan Nimmer: piano

Carlos Henriquez: bass

Ali Jackson: drums, tambourine

Ryan Kisor: trumpet

Seneca Black: trumpet

Kenny Rampton: trumpet

Marcus Printup: trumpet

Vincent Gardner: trombone

Chris Crenshaw: trombone

Elliot Mason: trombone

Victor Goines: tenor sax, soprano sax, clarinet, bass clarinet

Ted Nash: alto sax, soprano sax, clarinet, flute, piccolo

Sherman Irby: alto sax, soprano sax, clarinet, flute

Walter Blanding: tenor sax, soprano sax, clarinet

Joe Temperley: baritone sax, bass clarinet

Paul Nedzela: baritone sax, bass clarinet

Eddie Rosado: vocals

Marc Quiñones: percussion

Bobby Allende: percussion

Carlos Padron: percussion

Luba Mason: vocals

Recorded live November 15, 2014, at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall

Executive Producer: Wynton Marsalis
Producer: Carlos Henriquez

Front of House Engineer: David Robinson
Recording Engineers: Rob Macomber for SiriusXM and James P. Nichols
Post Producer and Mixing Engineer: Todd Whitelock
Mixing Assistant: Josh Welshman
Mastered by Mark Wilder Art Direction: Ron Jaramillo
Design: Brian Welesko
Photography: Frank Stewart and Lawrence Sumulong


First-time visitors to New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center are often surprised, when watching the house band perform, that Wynton Marsalis, its undisputed superstar, is seated in the JALC Orchestra’s back row—just another band member. As far as the trumpeter is concerned, this is a group of equals, one composed of many leaders. One of them, bassist Carlos Henriquez, served as music director when the Panamanian vocal giant Rubén Blades teamed up with the orchestra for a series of shows in November 2014. That performance, which includes numbers penned by Blades and tunes from the Great American Songbook, seriously sizzles.

Marsalis, of course, is present—he’s the featured soloist on the first and final songs of the set, “Ban Ban Quere” and “Patria,” the former written by Calixto Varela Gomez and the latter by Blades. Several other members of the JLCO step out front at various times throughout the course of the evening; soprano saxophonist Victor Goines adds a dollop of sensuality to the already luxuriant ballad “Apóyate En Mi Alma” and four of the group’s drums/percussion battery blast off on the Blades medley that closes out the set proper.

But however consistently exciting and flawless the big band is, it’s Blades himself who dominates. His command as a vocal stylist, singing first in English and then in Spanish, is beyond reproach. On the Jimmy McHugh-Dorothy Fields chestnut “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love,” he rides the orchestra’s swing with effortlessness, hears out the solos, then decides to take matters into his own hands, directing the various elements until it’s become one churning rhythm machine. Midway he stops to exclaim, “Yeah! Yeah!” and you know just where he’s coming from.

Jeff Tamarkin (JazzTimes)