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Jose Feliciano Releases New Album To Mark 40th Year As Singer...Taciturn Sanchez Gives Fans A Tenor Sax Earful

Jose Feliciano Releases New Album To Mark 40th Year As Singer

By Luis A. Torres

December 8, 2003
Copyright © 2003
EFE News Service. All rights reserved.

Miami, Dec 8 (EFE).-Jose Feliciano, one of the most versatile Latino pop singers and the first to make the crossover to the English-language market, has launched a compilation of his greatest hits to mark his 40th year on the stage.

The Universal Music group has just released "Ayer, Hoy y Siempre" (Yesterday, Today and Forever), a compilation of Feliciano's 20 greatest hits, as well as the first DVD ever on the singer-songwriter's life and career.

The album includes the first release of Feliciano and Carlos Santana performing "Samba Pa Ti."

Feliciano, 58, says he is singing better than in the 1970s and 1980s, when he climbed to the top of the charts.

He has to his credit 40 years performing, has recorded 60 albums, received 45 gold and platinum record awards, as well as six Grammys, and stars in more than 100 concerts worldwide every year.

Proof of his popularity are his two latest albums of "Senor Bolero," produced by Rudy Perez of Cuba, and probably the best songs Feliciano has recorded of this musical genre.

The most recent of these albums, "Lo que yo tuve contigo" (What I Had With You) stayed at the top of the charts on U.S. Spanish radio outlets for several weeks.

This album includes a composition by Feliciano called "Un ciego no vive en la oscuridad" (A Blind Person Doesn't Live in Darkness), which is one of the few times the legendary singer ever mentions his handicap.

"I've never played up my being blind," Feliciano noted.

While the U.S. pop music world has prominent blind musicians such as Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder, Hispanics have Jose Feliciano.

Possibly the only outward signs of his handicap - Jose Feliciano is blind from birth - are his trademark dark glasses and the constant presence of his wife and guide Susan at his concerts and news conferences.

The couple and their three children live in a 200-year-old colonial riverfront house in Fairfield, Connecticut, where he also has a recording studio.

Aside from composing, Feliciano also loves to listen to baseball games on the radio.

During the 1968 World Series, his rendition of the national anthem in his own, slower and heartfelt way, was a hit.

He again sang the anthem this year in Miami before one of the National League Championship Series games between the Florida Marlins and the Chicago Cubs.

Probably the most significant of Feliciano's countless compositions are "Light My Fire," his first crossover hit; "Che Sera Sera," which although it placed only second at the 1971 Sanremo Festival, its sales and popularity gave the singer-songwriter global recognition, and, of course, "Feliz Navidad," which has become one of the most popular Christmas carols worldwide.

Who could have guessed that a blind boy, the second of 11 children, who with his family moved to New York when he was five years old fleeing a life of poverty in Puerto Rico, and who taught himself to play the accordion and the guitar with the help of a few old records, would grow up to be a globally acclaimed star.

Taciturn Sanchez Gives Fans A Tenor Sax Earful

By Terry Perkins, Special To The Post-Dispatch

December 5, 2003
Copyright © 2003
St. Louis Post-Dispatch. All rights reserved.

Sometimes musicians are eager to discuss the tunes they're performing. Sometimes they prefer to let the music carry the message. For almost the entire first set of his Jazz at the Bistro performance Wednesday evening, tenor saxophonist David Sanchez let the music take precedence - only speaking to the audience near the end of the final number to introduce the band and make a brief but telling comment.

"In times like these," said Sanchez, "when there is so much stress in the world, it is good to find those who want to listen. It is so important for the art of jazz to have good listeners."

Anyone who has taken the time to listen to Sanchez has discovered one of the most interesting and thought-provoking tenor-sax players around. Born in Puerto Rico, Sanchez combines his island's musical forms (such as plena and bomba), varied strains of Latin jazz, a firm grounding in bop and the strong influence of legendary sax player John Coltrane into an approach that's distinctive and vital.

Sanchez, backed by alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon, pianist Edsel Gomez, bassist Hans Glawishnig and drummer Henry Cole, focused primarily on compositions from his most recent recording, "Travesia."

The quintet's version of Wayne Shorter's "Prince of Darkness" featured a strong introductory solo by Sanchez over the driving groove laid down by Glawishnig and Cole. The concluding tune, "Puerto San Juan," featured Sanchez and Zenon in a sax duel over Cole's drum solo. Gomez added an impressive solo, alternating a staccato approach with dense block chording.

Sanchez has kept the core of his band together for several years now, and it's become one of the most impressive small groups on the current jazz scene.

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