Posted by: ivetteromero | November 21, 2014

Latin Grammys 2014: Rubén Blades wins Best Tango Album

latin-grammys-2014-rehearsal-photos-ruben-blades (1)

Panamanian great Rubén Blades won his fifth Latin Grammys awards last night for his new album Tango. Here are excerpt from an article by Martin Chilton:

Blades spoke recently about the benefits of choosing tango over salsa.

Tango was also nominated for album of the year and the 66-year-old from Panama City said: “People probably have to rub their eyes and say, ‘What, Ruben Blades in the tango category?’ I was surprised because you never know about Grammy nominations. My album Siembra, arguably the biggest seller in the history of salsa, never got nominated for a Grammy.

Blades, who has also won four main Grammys, believes re-creating his salsa songs as tangos works, even though he had to use completely different phrasing and increase the tempo on songs such as Pedro Navaja.

Blades, whose successful acting career includes appearances in the Milagro Beanfield War (1988), The Two Jakes (1990) and Mo’ Better Blues (1990), has had a varied musical career that has seen him work with Little Steven and Paul Simon.

Asked about the change of musical direction, Blades said: “I felt that the instrumentation and the atmosphere that tango creates would make the lyrics more relevant and stronger. Salsa is action music, whereas in the tango you have space for reflection. There is something about tango that is very emotional. The instruments – the violin, the bandoneon – evoke nostalgia, sadness, opportunities lost and/or found. I always felt that some of my lyrics were shortchanged by the salsa format, with its strong rhythms that got in the way.”

Blades and his collaborator, arranger Carlos Franzetti, began discussing the tangos project more than a decade ago, but Blades put his entertainment career on hold to serve as Panama’s Minister of Tourism from 2004-2009.

Franzetti told AP reporter Charles J Gans: “Tangos reflects a genre-blending approach to music that Blades has dubbed ‘mixtura’.”

Blades will soon be going into the studio to do a “rock en espanol” album, also including some English-language songs he wrote with Lou Reed, with his new Paraiso Road Gang band that he formed with his wife, singer Luba Mason, which he says will play a mix from tango and salsa to jazz and bluegrass.

For full article, see


Here are just a few excerpts of a fascinating interview (in World Literature Today) of Robert H. McCormick Jr. by Jeremiah Gentle. McCormick speaks about his interest in Caribbean literature and the impetus behind his decision to translate Évelyne Trouillot’s Le Bleu de l’île. Access the full interview in the link below:

In June 2000 a group of soldiers from the Dominican Republic opened fire on, and killed, seven people in a tarp-covered truck they were pursuing in Guayubín. The cadavers of the six Haitians were buried in a common grave, virtually forgotten until a court ruling (albeit nonbinding) twelve years later found the Dominican Republic guilty of massacre (December 10, 2012, “Le Nouvelliste”).

Évelyne Trouillot’s The Blue of the Island brings these spirits back to life. By staging their dialogue underneath the tarp’s camouflage, the play merges past and present. The simple, often blasphemous, interactions of the passengers eloquently express the ordinariness of their lives.

Much like the play in its original French, Robert H. McCormick Jr.’s translation renders the cargo’s simply expressed small talk unforgettable and profound. In so doing, the original French play, and its precise English translation, further merge the past’s bare grief with present eloquence, thus laying bare the horrific events of a night in June for an even-wider audience.

Jeremiah Gentle: What is your background in Caribbean literature? What about the region appeals to you?

Robert H. McCormick Jr.: I came to Caribbean literature later in my literary life. My point of entry was, without doubt, the work of Maryse Condé. I read all her novels assiduously many times. Franklin University’s academic travel program was a second major factor. I organized five two-week academic travels to Cuba for students, as well as one to Venezuela and a couple to the Dominican Republic. Thus, from Guadeloupe, the scope of my interest expanded to include a wider, polylingual Caribbean. To broaden my own understanding, and that of my students, I initiated the Franklin College Caribbean Conference in Lugano, which I organized every two years over a ten-year span. Besides meeting Haitian writers who were our guests, such as Jean-Claude Fignolé, I became familiar with Évelyne Trouillot’s play through the essay of a conference participant that we published in conjunction with the Journal of Haitian Studies.

With respect to what pleases me about the region, literature comes first. I won’t cite too many authors, but the work of J.-S. Alexis, Jacques Roumain, Alejo Carpentier, Edwidge Danticat, Junot Díaz, Louis-Philippe Dalembert, and Maryse Condé have all impressed and influenced me in different ways. I like the weather, of course, but most of all the open sociability of most Caribbeans, a characteristic I associate with their humanity and one that manifests itself in their language.

JG: What inspired you to begin working with translations?

RHM: I came to translation even later. I was, though, in a position to translate what I liked and what I thought interested readers might want to have access to. My first literary translation was an interview I recorded in Guadeloupe with Maryse Condé at her former home there. WLT published that interview (see WLT, Summer 2000, 519–28). Then there was a long break. The idea to translate Le Bleu de l’île came after reading Stéphanie Bérard’s article about the play and learning that it hadn’t yet been translated into English. At that time, it hadn’t even come out in the French edition published by Coulisses (Spring, 2012). Now that I have since translated a novel and started another, my thinking about translation has taken a slightly more philosophical bent. I was disillusioned with various types of literary “studies” and felt I was often being led away from literature, and from its words. It is the sensation of dealing with this fundamental manifestation of literature, its verbal essence, that gives me the greatest pleasure in translating. I also feel I am making more accessible some of the many riches of Haitian literature that may be beyond the reach of those who don’t know French well enough.

For full interview, see

Posted by: ivetteromero | November 21, 2014

New Book: Patricia Cornwell’s “Flesh and Blood”

20768868We recently posted on Patricia Cornwell’s travels and adventures, including her scuba diving trips in the Bermuda Triangle for research for her well-known crime novels, especially those featuring Dr. Kay Scarpetta. [See previous post Patricia Cornwell on Diving in Bermuda.] Her recent novel, just published this month, Flesh and Blood (2014), is also set in the Caribbean, this time it is South Florida, where Scarpetta investigates a shipwreck in “the murky depths.”

Description: It’s Dr. Kay Scarpetta’s birthday, and she’s about to head to Miami for a vacation with Benton Wesley, her FBI profiler husband, when she notices seven pennies on a wall behind their Cambridge house. Is this a kids’ game? If so, why are all of the coins dated 1981 and so shiny they could be newly minted? Her cellphone rings, and Detective Pete Marino tells her there’s been a homicide five minutes away. A high school music teacher has been shot with uncanny precision as he unloaded groceries from his car. No one has heard or seen a thing.

In this 22nd Scarpetta novel, the master forensic sleuth finds herself in the unsettling pursuit of a serial sniper who leaves no incriminating evidence except fragments of copper. The shots seem impossible, yet they are so perfect they cause instant death. The victims appear to have had nothing in common, and there is no pattern to indicate where the killer will strike next. First New Jersey, then Massachusetts, and then the murky depths off the coast of South Florida, where Scarpetta investigates a shipwreck, looking for answers that only she can discover and analyze. And it is there that she comes face to face with shocking evidence that implicates her techno genius niece, Lucy, Scarpetta’s own flesh and blood.

For more information, see

Also see the author speak about the novel at


Rutgers University Press—with a new series on Critical Caribbean Studies and a range of other titles—is having a holiday sale, 40% off all books. One of these is Mark Schuller’s Killing with Kindness: Haiti, International Aid, and NGOs (2012), which includes a foreword by Paul Farmer. In this book, Schuller skillfully analyzes the tensions of power between the development aid system and Haitian communities.

Description: After Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, over half of U.S. households donated to thousands of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in that country. Yet we continue to hear stories of misery from Haiti. Why have NGOs failed at their mission? Set in Haiti during the 2004 coup and aftermath and enhanced by research conducted after the 2010 earthquake, Killing with Kindness analyzes the impact of official development aid on recipient NGOs and their relationships with local communities. Written like a detective story, the book offers rich enthnographic comparisons of two Haitian women’s NGOs working in HIV/AIDS prevention, one with public funding (including USAID), the other with private European NGO partners. Mark Schuller looks at participation and autonomy, analyzing donor policies that inhibit these goals. He focuses on NGOs’ roles as intermediaries in “gluing” the contemporary world system together and shows how power works within the aid system as these intermediaries impose interpretations of unclear mandates down the chain—a process Schuller calls “trickle-down imperialism.”

Here’s a link to Killing with Kindness if you would like to take advantage of the sale (use the code 02HOHO14 in the shopping cart for the 40% discount):,4138.aspx

Also see

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This year, as expected, the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema [Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano] in Havana, Cuba, is dedicated to Gabriel García Márquez. The Colombian writer was a fan of the event since its early years and in 1985 was elected president of the Foundation of New Latin American Cinema. The festival will take place from December 4 to 14, 2014. Here are excerpts translated from Cubacine article (see original in the link below):

Gabo [as he is affectionately remembered] had a close relationship with the cinema of the region, so much so that he became involved in the production of several films based on his works. The Festival will showcase several documentaries related to his life and work, including Buscando a Gabo (Colombia) by Luis Fernando “Pacho” Bottía; Gabriel García Márquez: La escritura embrujada (Colombia, France, Italy) by Yves Billon and Mauricio Martínez-Cavard; and Tales Beyond Solitude – Cien años de soledad (United States) by Holly Aylett.

The event, which will be held in Havana from December 4 to 14, will also pay homage to other filmmakers such as the Uruguayan Mario Handler and Austrian Ulrich Seidl. [. . .]

Also as part of the event, there will be retrospectives of the works of filmmakers Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight, Reagan, The Trials of Henry Kissinger, The house I live in, and Canoe), Raoul Peck (Profit & Nothing But! Or Impolite Thoughts on the Class Struggle, Lumumba, Man on the Shore, Lumumba: La mort du prophète, Haitian Corner, and Moloch Tropical) and Jorge Cedrón (El habilitado, El otro oficio, La vereda de enfrente, Operación Masacre, Por los senderos del Libertador, Gotan, and Resistir).

For original post (in Spanish), see»-festival-de-cine-dedicado-garcía-márquez

[Photo above: García Márquez with director Fernando Birri.)

Posted by: ivetteromero | November 20, 2014

New Album: Luis Marín’s “The One”


New album The One (recorded at Playbach Studios in San Juan) is the latest by Puerto Rican jazz pianist Luis Marín. Born and raised in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, he began studying piano at age 7. His works include the two albums Inconsolable—a special tribute to one of my favorite singers, Gilberto Monroig—and Live at the Nuyorican Cafe. Marín is a jazz piano professor in the Jazz and Caribbean Music Department at the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico.

Description of The One: Pianist Luis Marín presents an introspective work of Puerto Rican standards, jazz standards, and originals in an eclectic album, accompanied by such fine musicians as Pedro Perez, Pablo Rivera, Efrain Martinez, Kachiro Thomson and Richard Carrasco.

Excerpts from “Luis Marín” (All about Jazz):  In Puerto Rico, Luis Marín is one of the leading popular music and jazz pianists. Since early childhood, he has been performing in public, which eventually led to his involvement with some of the most significant artists in salsa and jazz. He has been a freelancer for a while now, as he is very much involved in the family business, which precludes the way of life required for success as a bandleader. Nevertheless, Marín keeps himself rather busy throughout the island, as a performer under his own banner, as a studio cat, as well as an accompanist of an ever-growing roster of artists from various musical backgrounds.

[. . .] “In the case of Puerto Rico, I think it’s important to reach the public with known material as a means to get their immediate attention, thus getting them to follow me throughout the entire interpretation.” Since I was under the impression that on this occasion Marín was thinking more along the lines of a traditional jazz trio format -sans Latin percussion- I mentioned it to him, at which point he rejoined by stating that “I am of the opinion that there’s already enough ‘Latin jazz’ -or however other way anyone might want to call it- in terms of emphasizing percussion in order for the music to rely on it. I try to use percussion, and Afro-Caribbean rhythms, as an additional resource, instead of being the foundation for the work that we do. It’s true that the sound I seek is the one derived from traditional [jazz] trios, with the conga as a binding element for my Caribbean traditions.”

Information on Marín from a 2004 interview with Javier AQ Ortiz; see full interview at

Also see

For purchasing information, see

Posted by: ivetteromero | November 20, 2014

Patricia Cornwell on Diving in Bermuda


In “Patricia Cornwell’s Travelling Life,” the writer speaks to Soo Kim (Telegraph Travel) about her travels and adventures around the world, especially to do research for her well-known crime novels, such as her “Scarpetta” series. According to The Royal Gazette’s Jonathan Bell, Cornwell is an avid diver, so her answers about scuba diving in the Bermuda Triangle are not surprising. Here are excerpts from the interview:

How often do you travel?

Several times a month. I am very rarely in one place for more than two weeks at a time. I’ve been to Los Angeles for work recently and also went scuba diving in the Bermuda Triangle as part of research for my books. There’s a great diving scene in my new novel and there will be more in the next one. I began scuba diving many years ago for research purposes and have come to enjoy it more each time I do it. It was a bit daunting at first but I learned because several characters in my books know how to do it.

Bermuda is the most interesting place I’ve dived. I started diving at shipwrecks off the coast of Bermuda – there are so many. Some of them are very old, dating back to the time of the American Civil War. My biggest frustration is that I can’t take notes under water. [. . .]

For original article, see

Also see

Posted by: ivetteromero | November 20, 2014

U.S. Stars to Race in Costa Rica on Sunday


A few fast U.S. road racers—including Abdi Abdirahman, Ryan Hall, Sara Hall, and Matt Llano—will flock to San Jose, Costa Rica on Sunday for the second running of the Gatorade San José Half Marathon, which finishes at Paseo Colon in heart of San José.

Defending champion Ryan Hall, the American record holder in the half marathon who ran 64:09 to win last year’s race, will return to defend his title. Joining him in Costa Rica for the first time since their honeymoon in 2005 will be his wife Sara, who is coming off a great year on the roads that saw her finish fourth at last weekend’s .US 12K road racing championships.

“This year’s field is built for speed, record performances and to increase public attendance for the event,” said Gatorade San Jose Half Marathon race director Mario Reyes. “We have big expectations with this group of men and women who have experience how to race and win.”

Alongside the Halls will be four-time U.S. Olympian Abdi Abdirahman and 61-minute half marathoner Matt Llano of Flagstaff, Ariz., who ran 1:01:47 to finish fifth at the U.S. Half Marathon Championships in January. Not competing in this year’s race will be last year’s second-place finisher, Costa Rican Olympian Cesar Lizano, who will be racing the Cal International Marathon in Sacramento on Dec. 7.

“I’m very excited to run in Costa Rica,” Abdirahman said in a press release. “I’m looking forward to seeing where I stand now against some good friends and great runners of the U.S.

For full article, see

Posted by: ivetteromero | November 20, 2014

Dominican Brewery Buyout

The-Dominican-Republics-iconic-beer-Presidente.-Photo-by-Sugar-Sweet-Sunshine-Flickr-Creative-Commons-Licnece-221x300Dominican Today reports that the maker of Dominican Republic’s leading beer, Presidente, announced the closing of its US$1.2 billion merger with the Brazilian beverage giant AmBev.

In 2012, Ambev had already entered into a strategic alliance with the Dominican Republic’s biggest company, E. Leon Jimenes SA (ELJ), to form a leading beverage company in the Caribbean. At the time, ELJ (headquartered in Santiago de los Caballeros) held a virtual monopoly on local beer and cigarette markets; it brews Presidente, Bohemia, Miller and Heineken beers and manufactures Marlboro cigarettes.

The combined business operations of ELJ and AmBev include beer, malt and soft drinks in the Dominican Republic, Antigua, St. Vincent, and exports to sixteen countries throughout the Caribbean, the U.S. and Europe.

On October 21, 2014, the Dominican National Brewery (CND) and AmBev Dominicana Brewing Company of Brazilian capital agreed to the merge. AmBev had announced the acquisition of a 51% stake in the CND for US$1.24 billion Last April, when José A. León, CEO of E. León Jimenes Corp.—which owned 83.5% of the shares of the maker of President beer—called the deal a strategic alliance to form the Caribbean’s leading beverage company.

Ambev (Companhia de Bebidas das Américas – or ‘Americas’ Beverage Company’) dominates Brazil’s beverage industry, producing beers and soft drinks ranging from Brahma and Budweiser, to Guaraná Antarctica and Pepsi. It is also a founding partner, alongside Belgium’s Interbrew, of InBev – one of the world’s top two leading beer manufacturers.

Information for this post comes from and

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