Falling Boy, Rising Star
More McGhee: Someday, a poignant picture book for all ages with illustrations by Peter Reynolds, also will be released this month (Atheneum, $14.99).
—Alison McGhee, Falling Boy
Seven Steps to Havana Charanga Tropical Douglas Little
self-titled Live! Cuban Voyage
After a decade as one of the area’s top bebop leaders, the saxophonist, flautist, and composer Douglas Little has dived headfirst into Cuban jazz. His extensive studies in Havana have fostered two new ensembles and three stellar discs in the past year. Cuban Voyage is a career retrospective of sorts, spanning six years of Little’s musical evolution, as exemplified by the doubly delightful “Monk’s Dream About Cuba.” Sax quartet pieces and local guests stars galore make Voyage a Minne-music essential. Charanga Tropical, Little’s nine-member orchestra, runs a close second with its live disc, an exploration of the rarely heard charanga style: salsa with strings, no brass, plenty of percussion, male vocal chants, and, in this case, Little on flute. Little wonder, you might say, that this group has gained a loyal following for its regular salsa nights at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis. Seven Steps to Havana, meanwhile, features Little and musicians from three continents bringing their own flavor to classic Cuban forms. Little is currently wintering in Paris, but watch for both groups (now featuring pianist/vocalist Viviana Pintado) to resurface about the time that short skirts and béisbol return. —JIM MEYER