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Tribute to Mercedes Sosa: The Voice of Latin America

Americas Society

March 2, 2017


Magos Herrera (Roey Yohai for Americas Society), Edward Simon, Pedro Aznar (courtesy of the artists).

In collaboration with:

AS Members, reservations are closed. You may join the waitlist at general admission prices through the National Sawdust website.

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Mexican jazz singer Magos Herrera, one of the 2016–2017 curators at Brooklyn's National Sawdust, assembles an all-star cast of musicians, including Venezuelan pianist Edward Simon’s trio (with Adam Cruz, drums, and Joe Martin, bass) alongside Argentine musician Pedro Aznar, in tribute to Argentine singer-songwriter Mercedes Sosa, known as "The Voice of Latin America." These musicians revisit some of Sosa’s most beloved hits, which spearheaded the rise of the nueva canción (new song) movement in Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s.

Magos & Limón perform De Qué Callada Manera with Chabuco.

About the artists

Singer Mercedes Sosa was born and raised in Tucumán, Argentina, and began her professional career at age 15 after taking top honors in an amateur radio competition. An expressive vocalist and a gifted interpreter, Sosa was dubbed "the voice of the silent majority" for her choice of political themes and spearheaded the rise of the so-called nueva canción ("new song") movement, alongside Violeta Parra and Atahualpa Yupanqui, among others, which heralded the emergence of protest music across Argentina and Chile during the 1960s. The movement was crippled in 1973 by a coup that ousted Chilean President Salvador Allende. With Sosa’s repertoire of songs that championed human rights and democracy, the military regime that had seized power viewed her as a serious threat, and in 1975 she was arrested during a live performance that also resulted in the incarceration of many audience members. Death threats forced her to leave Argentina in 1979, from which she remained in exile for several years, returning with a triumphant comeback performance in early 1982. Sosa recorded prolifically in the years to follow. In fall 2000, Sosa won a Grammy for Best Folk Album for Misa Criolla at the first annual Latin Grammy Awards, and again in 2003 and 2006 for Acústico and Corazón Libre. On October 4, 2009, after having received multiple Grammy nominations for the album Cantora, Sosa passed away after a long battle with illness.

Born in Mexico City and currently based in New York City, Magos Herrera is a dazzling jazz singer-songwriter, producer, and educator. Magos is regarded as one of the most expressive, beautiful voices and most active vocalists in the contemporary Latin American jazz scene. She is best known for her eloquent vocal improvisation and her singular bold style, which embraces elements of contemporary jazz with Latin American melodies and rhythms singing in Spanish, English, and Portuguese, in a style that elegantly blends and surpasses language boundaries. She has recorded six solo albums and has worked on joint collaborations for two more albums with celebrated producer Javier Limón, in addition to having participated as a guest artist of several recordings and albums. Throughout her career, Magos has garnered important awards and recognitions, including a Grammy short-list nomination in the Best Jazz Vocal Album category for her album Distancia (2009), and is the only female artist to have received the Berklee College of Music’s Master of Latin Music Award. She recently performed with Limón at Music of the Americas, featuring a number of guests including harmonica player Grégoire Maret, with whom the duo recently toured to Mexico. Magos serves as a curator at National Sawdust, one of Brooklyn’s most innovative venues, and, more recently, was invited as a guest artist to participate in an album celebrating Mexican poet Octavio Paz and in Paco de Lucia’s tribute documentary, La guitarra vuela.

Award-winning pianist and composer Edward Simon hails from Venezuela. He made his first recording with his eponymous trio in 1994 (Beauty Within, Audioquest). Since then, the trio has become an established voice, with five recordings and recent performances at the Village Vanguard, Jazz Bakery, and Casa del Jazz. Simon has recorded 11 critically acclaimed albums as leader, including two New York Times Top Ten Jazz Records of the Year: Edward Simon (1995) and Simplicitas (2005). His recording Unicity was voted "Best CD of 2007" by DOWNBEAT. He has appeared as guest artist on more than 50 recordings, including Paquito D'Rivera's Grammy Award-winning Funk Tango (Best Latin Jazz Album, 2007) and several other Grammy-nominated albums. In 2010 Simon was named Guggenheim Fellow by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. That same year he became a member of the SFJAZZ Collective, a prominent musician-composer jazz ensemble dedicated to creating new work and highlighting the music of historically significant jazz composers of the modern era. The collective comprises "eight of the most in-demand" (New York Times) artists performing today. Simon's first live album, featuring his trio alongside bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade, Live in New York at Jazz Standard, was released in April 2013 on Sunnyside Records.

With 16 solo albums, Argentine musician and singer-songwriter Pedro Aznar is considered one of the most representative voices of Argentina today. Formed in 1978 with Charly García, David Lebón, and Oscar Moro, the group Serú Girán was considered by audiences and critics alike to be a landmark in Argentine rock music and left a legacy of 10 albums, record-breaking audiences, and an influence that transcended generations. In 1983 Aznar joined the Pat Metheny Group as multi-instrumentalist and vocalist. This lineup of the acclaimed group performed around the world and won three Grammy Awards for "First Circle" (1984),"Letter from Home" (1989), and "The Road to You" (1993). Aznar has led his own group since 1993, which is infused with rock, jazz, Argentine and Latin American roots music, a constant openness to new tendencies, and a profound respect of old traditions.