lunes, 22 de julio de 2013

Jose Feliciano on His Return to the Iridium

Jose Feliciano in the early 1960s. Getty Images

Guitarist Jose Feliciano performs onstage at Latino Inaugural 2013. Getty Images
When Les Paul went on to the great gig in the sky nearly four years ago, he left his guitar progeny to carry on his long-running Monday night slot at the Iridium. The void has since been filled by a rotating cast of notable guitarists—including Jeff Beck, Joe Walsh and Lita Ford. On Monday, José Feliciano returns to the club to begin a new run of performances.
Tours of South America and Europe are currently in the works for Mr. Feliciano, the 67-year-old product of East Harlem, and on the day of this interview he was in meetings for a new bilingual TV show to be taped in Miami. So scheduling could be tricky, but he said he was committed to his run at the Iridium.
"The appeal is that it's where Les Paul used to play," said Mr. Feliciano, who lives in Fairfield, Conn. "I'll be doing it monthly, but they'll have to adjust to my schedule. If I'm touring I can't be there when they would like, but I will be there when I can."
Known in both the Latin and American markets for his flamenco-tinged acoustic version of the Doors' "Light My Fire" and for his ubiquitous holiday standard "Feliz Navidad," Mr. Feliciano is a versatile guitarist with a dazzling set of chops anchored in his classical finger-picking style. An alumnus of the Greenwich Village school of folk guitar in the early 1960s, he has performed before at the Iridium with the Les Paul Trio, both when Mr. Paul was alive and since, and he keeps the band on its toes.
"With some people we might rehearse a song or two if they want to play originals, but with Jose we have no idea what he's going to do," said rhythm guitarist Lou Pallo, who played alongside Paul for 28 years and now leads the trio at the Iridium. "He doesn't even tell us what the first song is going to be. He'll just come to the stage, sit down and off we go."
Spontaneity and versatility have served Mr. Feliciano well over the years, from his appearances on John Lennon's "Rock 'n' Roll" and Joni Mitchell's "Court and Spark," to his spell on the dance charts in 1994 with the hit "Goin' Krazy." And he's still actively recording. His Elvis Presley tribute record, "The King," came out in 2012, and an album of Mexican folk songs, "My Love for Mexico" arrived in early 2013.
Of course, even with 45 gold and platinum records and nine Grammy Awards under his belt, he is far from the pop star who was mobbed Beatles-style in South America in the 1960s and early '70s. But his journey has never stopped. Successfully touring and recording albums in English and Spanish, Mr. Feliciano's career could be a template for any Latin American musician with designs on the radio.
"José Feliciano and Carlos Santana, both guitar virtuosos, made huge impacts at the same time and opened up rock doors to those that came after," said Tomas Cookman, founder of the Latin rock label Nacional and the Latin Alternative Music Conference. "He proved that there was a potential to be a Latin rock artist and make it. If you have talent and a good song, you have a fighting chance to make it."
Mr. Feliciano, who's been blind since his birth in Puerto Rico, is reluctant to tout his role in the emergence of Latin-based pop music over the past few decades. "If I've influenced people, so be it, but I don't dwell on those kinds of things," he said. "I just put out my music. If I influence someone without knowing it, I'm happy about it. I try not to think about those things because it's not about me."
But what of the things that are about him? His last album of original material, "The Soundtrax of My Life," came out in 2007, but he said he still has something to show the younger generation. "It's time to start writing more because I can't always depend on other people's material," he said. "I like Maroon 5, Swedish House Mafia and others. I don't want to lock myself away from the music of today, but as Bob Seger says, today's music ain't got the same soul."

By Tad Hendrickson


No hay comentarios:

Publicar un comentario