Mark Levine & The Latin Tinge
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Mark Levine & The Latin Tinge


Band Jazz Latin


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This band has not uploaded any videos




the preeminent Latin jazz quartet found north of Havana.”
Luis Tamargo (Latin Beat)



"Levine is comfortable enough in this rhythmic milieu to either dance inside the drums or bebop his butt off on top of the groove."
Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press



"Levine just keeps on cooking."
Jesse Varela, Latin Beat



"Mark Levine's genius allows him to play...with an intimate knowledge of both Monk and Chucho Valdés." - CD NOW


"Masterfully at ease in both Afro-Cuban and straight ahead, Levine's playing is clear and beautifully harmonic."
Patricia Albela, LA Jazz Scene



This is what Latin Jazz is all about! This is definitely one jewel of a recording you'll want to add to your collection. A definite Grammy contender..."
George Rivera, Salsaweb

“one of the year's best releases… I'm sure that Moacir has that same smile depicted on the cover's inner sleeve as a result of this fitting tribute. Mark, te la comiste!”

- George Rivera,,,



Combining elegance and a knowing earthiness, Levine is such a consistently rewarding player that his excellence hardly calls attention to itself"
Andrew Gilbert, The Express



“An album to own and savor...stands within the circle of pianists who define what the instrument means in the world of jazz”
Jim Merod, Jazz Now Magazine



Weekly Latin Jazz Video Fix: The Making Of Off & On, The Music Of Moacir Santos, Mark Levine & The Latin Tinge

When a Latin Jazz artist creates a collection of music, there’s a bounty of interesting stories and ideas inherent in both the resultant product and the creative process. In most cases, the product - whether it’s a CD or MP3 download - becomes the thing most familiar to us. We listen to the tracks repeatedly, we analyze the improvisations, we enjoy the compositions, and it becomes part of our life. For most of us, the product is the only thing about the musical output that we can comprehend; it’s the only thing that the artist reveals about their musical concept. While liner notes, web site information, and interviews give us a peek into the musician’s mind, its all second hand information coming to us after the fact. The creative process contains the conceptual development, the spontaneous inspirations, and the hours of labor-intensive performance that shape the product. In many ways, the developmental process provides a more revealing look into the artist’s personality and gives us much more insight about the musical output. The more that we can learn about the process, the more that we can understand the intention behind the recording and the inspirations that drive the artist to create the music that becomes such an important piece of our lives. Strangely enough, the process is the piece of the music that as an audience we often miss
As both a creative process and a tangible product, Off & On, The Music of Moacir Santos from Mark Levine & The Latin Tinge, radiates with creativity, in-depth story telling, and an intriguing history. The story of Santos’ musical career provides a good starting point for both product and process; for many of us, Santos’ musical legacy represents an unfamiliar piece of the Brazilian musical world. In Brazil, Santos built a well-respected career as a songwriter, musician, and bandleader, while his foray into the music world of the United States resulted in marginal commercial success. The hippest stateside musicians became familiar with Santos and his work, resulting in some artistically interesting collaborations and the occasional cover of Santos’ many compositions, including the popular piece “Nanã.” Fortunately, one of the musicians that investigated Santos’ work was pianist Mark Levine. In addition to an in-depth study of Santos’ music, Levine performed with Santos in the 1960s and recorded with him on the Blue Note release Saudade. Decades later, Levine gathered a group of Santos compositions and arranged them into a serious Latin Jazz set for his group The Latin Tinge, a collective of some of the Bay Area’s best Latin Jazz musicians. The resultant recording sparkles with enthusiastic creativity, shines with professional performances, and remembers Santos with a fond respect.
The album will be released soon - you’ll be hearing about it here at LJC - but luckily for us, Levine had the good foresight to create a video that takes us into the creative process behind Off & On, The Music of Moacir Santos. You’ll get the inside scoop behind Levine’s experience with Santos and his connection to the body of Santos’ artistic output. You’ll hear from the Latin Tinge, and get their insights on the group as well as their perspectives about Santos. You’ll see the group live in the studio creating the tracks that eventually made it onto the album. You’ll get a preview of the music that you’ll hear on the album, so keep your ears open. It’s a must-see video that takes us into Mark Levine & The Latin Tinge’s creative process as well as lets us hear the music from their upcoming product. Enjoy!
The Making of Off and On, The Music Of Moacir Santos
Off and On, The Music Of Moacir Santos will be available on Sept 15 2009.


"quote from Mario Adnet"

"I can imagine how happy Moacir is watching this from up there..." Mario Adnet - Producer of Moacir's final recordings


Off & On, the Music of Moacir Santos
Isla (Grammy Nominee 2003)
Hey, Its Me



Grammy Nominee "Best Latin Jazz Recording 2003"
We play Afro-Cuban and Brazilian Latin jazz, specializing in the music of Brazilian Maestro Moacir



Since pianist Mark Levine founded his masterly Afro-Caribbean jazz ensemble The Latin Tinge in the late 1990s, the band has assembled a beautiful and fascinating book by applying a variety of Cuban grooves to American Songbook standards and compositions by contemporary post-bop composers such as Mulgrew Miller, Kenny Garrett, Cedar Walton, and Charles Tolliver.

Levine’s new Latin Tinge album, Off & On, takes the band’s fertile concept into thrilling, uncharted territory, interpreting a dozen exquisite tunes by the late, revered Brazilian composer Moacir Santos. Featuring the dazzling rhythm section tandem of Paul van Wageningen on trap drums and Michael Spiro on hand percussion, expert bassist John Wiitala, and Brazilian-jazz veteran Mary Fettig on flute, soprano sax, and bass clarinet, the Latin Tinge treats Santos’s sophisticated arrangements much like its post-bop repertoire. While the melodies are unmistakably Brazilian, Levine transposes Santos’s compositions from “from Recife to Havana.”

“It’s the same thing we’ve done with the music of Cedar Walton, Ronnie Mathews, and Joe Henderson,” says Levine, who divides his time between Boise and Berkeley. “Without even really discussing it, three-fourths of the tunes ended up being Afro-Cuban. Of course, Spiro and van Wageningen have really studied that tradition. Wiitala has no training in Latin music, but he’s got a natural feeling for clave. He’s a minimalist who leaves a lot of space. And Mary is just a superb musician who’s really versed in Brazilian and Latin jazz. It’s a true band sound.”

Considering that Levine has performed and recorded with many of the greatest musicians in jazz and Latin music, it’s hardly surprising to discover that the pianist played an essential role on 1974’s Saudade, one of three classic albums that Santos recorded for Blue Note. Raised in the rural northeastern state of Paraíba, the legendary composer and multi-instrumentalist made a name for himself in Rio in the 1950s, when his ingenious, densely structured compositions took Brazilian music well beyond bossa nova. A mentor to future guitar star and composer Baden Powell and pianist Sergio Mendes, Santos moved to Southern California in the mid-’60s looking to break into Hollywood as a film composer. That’s where Levine met him. “I knew nothing about Brazilian music, but I was very impressed,” Levine says. “Moacir’s compositions were so beautiful and intricate.”

Though Santos did some film composing, his career never took off. Levine only ran into him twice after the Saudade session, and Santos remained in Southland obscurity until 2001, when producers Mario Adnet and Zé Nogueira organized the star-studded recordings Ouro Negro and Choros & Alegria (which were released in the U.S. on Adventure Music). At the time of his death at the age of 80 in 2004, Santos was once again recognized as a seminal figure in Brazilian music, a visionary composer with a capacious harmonic imagination and beguiling gift for melodic themes.

As the first instrumental jazz album ever dedicated exclusively to Santos’s music, Off & On is another important step restoring his rightful place in the 20th-century composers’ pantheon next to Jobim, Piazzolla, Ellington, Monk, and Shorter. Levine notes that one obstacle Santos faced is that his tunes often bear multiple titles. He originally recorded many of his pieces as instrumentals and named them coisas, which means “things” in Portuguese. When lyrics were added, they were renamed, so his hit “Coisa #5,” for instance, became the gorgeous opening track “Nanã.” But when Santos moved to California, many of his tunes were given English lyrics and were rechristened again, so that “Coisa #8,” née “Navegação” (Navigation), became “Make Mine Blue.”

In many ways, Levine is an unlikely musician to undertake the Santos project, as he’s rarely explored Brazilian music. Born and raised in New Hampshire (and later Florida), Levine graduated with a music degree from Boston University and started his career in the late 1950s as a dedicated bebopper. Saxophonist Bobby Porcelli sparked his interest in Latin music in the early ’60s when he took Levine to see Tito Puente play one night at the Palladium in New York. A few years later while living in Boston, he hooked up with a young band, Los Muchachos, which included promising musicians such as conguero Don Alias, bassist Gene Perla, and saxophonist Dick Mesa.

Levine made the move to Los Angeles in the late ’60s, and quickly found work with Latin bands, deepening his understanding of the music through his association with the great Cuban bassist Humberto Cane. He spent three years with Willie Bobo’s popular band, and three months on the road with protean conguero Mongo Santamaria. The gig w