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Live Shows

Watch this space for Janine's 2017 performance Schedule.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Live Webcast TV Performance Worldwide

Comedy by Sam Adams, special guest

Afro-Caribbean Jazz by Janine Santana Latin Jazz

Sooooo inexpensive! Watch from anywhere!

Get tickets HERE

Wednesday, September 7, 2016, 7PM


Dazzle Jazz

930 Lincoln Street  

Denver, CO

Click here for tickets


FRIDAY AUGUST 12, 8:30 P.M. - 12:00 A.M.



San Jose, CA


First night of the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest and we get to be a part of it! Featuring Murray: piano, Masaru Koga: woodwinds, Aaron Germain: bass and Dan Foltz: drums
Admission: Free. Age restrictions: All Ages. Address: 233 West Santa Clara St.. Venue phone: 408-286-1000.



August 26th and 27th, 2016

 With Eugenie Jones

Baur's Listening Lounge 
1512 Curtis St.
Denver, CO 80202

Eugenie will be accompanied by Andy Weyl-piano, Mark Simon-bass, and Dan Hogan-drums with special guest: Janine Santana on congas....

...Don't miss this unique performer from the Northwest when she alights in town...I can't wait for these dates at Baur's Listening Lounge ... Just can't arrive fast enough!





May 21, 2016

Janine Santana Latin Jazz

Historic Five Points Jazz Festival, Denver, CO

25th to 29th streets along Welton St.

Plaza stage




May 21, 2016

Janine Santana Latin Jazz 

4PM MST at the Five Points Plaza Stage

Welton Street, in Historic Five Points, Denver, Colorado.

Copies of Soft as Granite will be available before and after the performance, or purchase here.

    Thank you for supporting the music!

January 30, 2016

 with the Mi Casa All-Stars Band. Supporting 

 Mi Casa is among Colorado’s oldest and largest Latino-serving nonprofit organizations. Since 1976, Mi Casa has been dedicated to advancing the economic success of Latino and working families in the Denver Metro area.

Tickets and info available HERE. 

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Antonio Adolfo: "Chora Baião" (AAM 703)  

Antonio Adolfo: "Chora Baião" (AAM 703)  
by Janine Santana

Antonio Adolfo is not very well-known outside of Brazil—yet! His beautiful new recording "Chora Baião" (Cry Baião) is a successful marriage of traditional northern Brazilian musical forms (which meld African, European and indigenous cultures) and jazz. Adolfo has taken the music of two beloved Brazilian artists,Guinga and Chico Buarque, whose fortes are choro and baião and arranged it with his own elegant flavor. He respectfully maintains the integrity of these two masters while infusing his own mastery of composition and arrangement.

The album opens with “Dá O Pé Loro” (Hey, Parrot, Give Me Your Foot!) which displays a fine maracatu percussion section including pandeiro, zabumba and triangle before the piece is joined by the remaining rhythm section. With lovely guitar work by Leo Amuedo, this Baião is steeped in jazz flavor and a respectful, exciting tribute to the work of Guinga. “Nó Na Garganta” (Lump in the Throat) is an elegant fusion of choro and samba canção and as is typical of Adolfo’s work, contains beautiful chord changes. This piece illustrates the importance of musical rapport among the musicians. Adolfo has found this in the ensemble of guitarist Amuedo, bassist Jorge Helder, drummer Rafael Barata and percussionist Marcos Suzano.  Barata’s brushwork is particularly effective when it intertwines with Suzano’s percussion. The project’s namesake, “Chora Baião” (Cry, Baião) is an intelligent, driving and fascinating meld of the sounds of choro and baião. If the listener is a fan of the 2-feel (binary type rhythms) of Brazil, this is a composition to move and sway to. Driving the tune is a clay-pot percussion instrument called a moringa that is played in concert with a triangle. It is an intriguing combination. The hypnotic “Você Você” (You You) is the only tune on the project with lyrics, beautifully interpreted by vocalist Carol Saboya. What makes this tune mesmerizing is the slow and strong tempo of this baião and a full-bodied richness in the chosen chords Adolfo uses.

“A Ostra E O Vento” (The Oyster And The Wind) is a composition by Buarque that Adolfo has reinvented as a jazzy waltz. With graceful brushwork by Barata, a steady drive is maintained while Saboya’s wordless vocals are free to soar with the piano’s harmonies.  Adolfo’s chord changes are particularly interesting in this arrangement. According to Aldolfo’s liner notes, “Chicote” (The Whip) contains the Brazilian chord progression known as “Brazilian Northeastern Blues”. Although originally written as a school composition assignment, it is a very sophisticated arrangement. Of course, as Adolfo points out, it always helps to have the high caliber of musicians who play on this recording! “Chorosa Blues” opens with a rich, moody flourish on solo piano. The piece combines the essences of Buarque and Guinga’s signature styles. Adolfo’s lonely piano creates a vital blues statement in this brief 84-second arrangement. “Gota D’Água” (Drop of Water) begins with a dark and dangerous emotion, and then evolves into a tasteful samba punctuated with an understated bass solo by Helder and another distinct piano solo by Adolfo. Following that melancholy, soft piece, “Di Menor” (Underage) comes bounding in with all of the exuberance of youth the title suggests. This is my favorite samba piece in the project. With drive, verve and beautiful drumming by Barata, it again flows with understated solos from Amuedo’s guitar and Adolfo’s piano.

“Catavento E Girasol” (Windmill and Sunflower) is another refined nod to Guinga. A Brazilian style known as a toada, it’s a lament with haunting cuica punctuation by Suzano. This and Amuendo’s guitar work make the tune worthy of repeating again and again. “Morro Dois Irmãos” (Rio’s Two Brothers Hill) closes the project with a well phrased, jazzy acknowledgement to Buarque. The voices of the cuica and variety of percussion usher in and color the tune throughout the piece. It is an exquisite finish to an unusual tribute to Brazilian composers who are not often heard or acknowledged outside of their home territory.


Review of MOZIK

Gilson Schachnik and Mauricio Zottarelli – Mozik (2011)

November 17, 2011

It is amazing how it sometimes takes a foreign adventure to find one’s appreciation for the culture of home territory. Whereas the love of fusion, jazz and rock music originating in the United States is embraced with verve in the Southern Hemisphere, likewise I have never run into a native jazz musician in the Northern Hemisphere who isn’t fascinated by the rhythms of African influenced Brazilian music, particularly the region of Bahia. Keyboardist Gilson Schachnik and drummer Mauricio Zottarelli, both born in Brazil, admittedly were never steeped in the traditional cultural rhythms and instruments unique to their birthright. They did not know each other before meeting at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, where both have achieved associate professor positions. Growing up deeply influenced by a strong background in hard rock and fusion jazz, they each found themselves expected to be natural experts in samba and bossa nova by their peers and professors at Berklee. The resulting examination Schachnik and Zottarelli took of Brazilian music, seen through the lenses of their mutual backgrounds in such an entirely different musical art form resulted in winning a faculty grant from Berklee to produce MOZIK, a project for a quintet of very diverse international musicians who all are now based in the United States.

Web’s Samba, a composition by Schachnik reveals unrestrained influences from the music of his youth and the study of Brazilian influenced jazz. Although I don’t like to compare groups, I was happy to find the same sense of artful fusion I enjoyed in the heyday of Azymuth… a favorite band of mine from my own youth. Having found a way back to the music of South America, the composition includes rhythms from the musically lush Bahia, including Candombe and other Yoruban influenced sounds. The drums are indeed influenced by hard rock, and I thought them a little heavy for this composition in the beginning of the piece, although I grew fond of the heaviness by the end. The flute, deftly handled by Russian flautist Yulia Musayelyan has a rough, unrestrained edginess to it. The bass is the glue of the piece and confidently laid down by Fernando Huergo of Argentina.

A Felicidade, a Jobim composition is given a new treatment with breaks tightly led by Musayelyan’s cutting, percussive flute work and very nice guitar solos by Brazilian Gustavo Assis-Brasil. It is true, no bossa nova or soft samba recording can leave out a few gorgeous Jobim tunes, but here the arrangements take on new influences and turn this classic standard into a different expression. A Felicidade dances out percussively, freely interpreted and brand-new! Herbie Hancock’s Eye of the Hurricane saunters in with Schachnik’s melancholy, expressive piano work. It is a well blended piece carried by Assis-Brasil’s pretty guitar work and Zottarelli’s brushes and nice cymbal work. The flute has moved into a supportive position in this arrangement, well executed and still maintaining the tone previously admired in the first cut.

Mozik: Mozik

O Amor em Paz -another tribute to Jobim- is also an updated treatment invested with each instrumentalist’s verve, with the rock history of Schachnik and Zottarelli most apparent. I enjoyed the crossover between the classic interpretation of this popular Jobim piece and the youthful drive and color of the rock/fusion influences.
A pulsing samba version of the beloved Monk tune Pannonica has solid bass work by Huergo, which in turn supports fluid piano work by Schachnik. Rightfully, the flute lays out on this piece. I would have liked to have the volume, but not the energy of the drum kit pulled back a little during the bass solo. Still, this is a very tasteful treatment of Pannonica.

Zelia brings the flute back in to the forefront. An original by Schachnik, it enters with a flourish and settles into some nice guitar work, supported by the keyboard’s violin sounds. If the players get the opportunity, real violins would add a vibrant richness to this fun composition. Zelia is a fiercely happy piece that also breathes. I hope to hear more compositions by this pianist. I hope he can use actual violins.

The third tribute to Jobim’s music is the classic beauty Desafinado, again worked into an extravagant, fun arrangement. It is a true percussionist’s piece. An ideal meter was put into place, making this version impossible to sit still to. Again, the flute is not overtly sweet, although that is traditionally what is heard when used as a voicing in this tune. Instead, it has a dark quality that suits the interpretation very well.

Canto das Tres Raças, a Duarte/Pinheiro tune brings the project to a tasteful and solid conclusion. A percussionist’s delight, with Musayelyan’s rich flute dancing over the top, it is a relaxed yet energetic samba that incorporates the breadth of the blending of diversity from all players’ backgrounds. It contains a lovely, extended piano solo supported by the drum kit, but evolving into a hand percussion and vocal samba that leads out the end of the piece. It is a fitting finale to this recording project.


1. Web’s Samba
2. A Felicidade
3. O Amor Em Paz
4. Eye of the Hurricane
5. Pannonica
6. Zelia
7. Desafinado
8. Canto das Tres Raças


Keyboards: Gilson Schachnik
Flute: Yulia Musayelyan
Guitar: Gustavo Assis-Brasil
Bass: Fernando Huergo
Drums: Mauricio Zottarelli


Review of Francisco Mela's "TREE OF LIFE"

Francisco Mela: "Tree of Life" (Half Note 4549)

by Janine Santana

Francisco Mela is a man who lives to drum. He studied in his native Cuba and at Berklee College in Boston.He has been known to rehearse twelve hours a day. He caught the attention of Joe Lovano, and the saxophonist hired him for his band Us 5, and strongly encouraged Mela to compose and perform his own music. “Tree of Life” is Mela’s third CD as a leader and it features his band Cuban Safari, which, in addition to Mela’s drums, includes Elio Villafranca and Leo Genovese on piano, Uri Gurvich on sax, Ben Monder on guitar, Luques Curtis on bass, and Mauricio Herrera on percussion. The album also features special guestsEsperanza Spalding on vocals, Peter Slavov on bass and Jowee Omicil on sax. Mela pays tribute to his jazz and fusion influences: Miles DavisWeather Report and Irakere.  Although traces of these influential players can be heard, Mela’s treatment of the genres are all his own.

The opening cut is named “Retrograde”It flows back and forth with the voices firmly supporting each solo. Villafranca plays a rhythmically provocative piano solo on this track. The changes of mood and expression in “Africa en mi Venas” are alternately subtle and explosive.  Monder’s flowing guitar solo is a highlight of this well-structured composition. “Toma del Poder” is a rhythmically challenging piece and the group pulls it off beautifully. Pay careful attention to every beat, and every tone on this one! With a sense of urgency, this combination of funk, jazz and polyrhythm begins with verve, looks into every conceivable corner of the piece, and then fades out without resolution. “Yadan Mela” is a cultural romp through many world influences. It begins with the ancient call of the flute, deepened by the entrance of the bass and balanced by Esperanza Spalding’s expressive vocals. It builds with Mela and company’s background vocals joining Spalding’s, giving a very satisfying picture of Mela and what has left an impression on him artistically. Modern Mela!

…Which leads us into “Classico Mela” where we can truly feel the leadership of Mela’s drums and Curtis’ bass. Curtis’ playing enters with authority, grabbing the listener’s attention immediately. My own two children who frequently leave me alone when I am reviewing both came in to my office to listen to this track with me. I’m not fond of the distorted guitar style played by Monder on this track, but there’s no questioning his superb technique and delivery. Balanced by the sound of the Rhodes piano and forceful drumming, I played this track twice before moving on, much to the delight of the children. Although my two companions left for the next tune, I found it to be a very sweet and welcome addition, quite different from everything else heard on this recording. Hoagy Carmichael’s “The Nearness of You” features Mela’s English vocals accompanied only by piano. There are no pretentions here, and Mela’s bright personality shines through in this simple rendition. If the lullaby quality of “The Nearness of You” left you calm and nostalgic, the funky and powerful “Yo Me” will wake you right back up again. Omicil’s sax flies smoothly over the backbeat of Mela’s drums. The next tune “Just Now” acts as a counterbalance, displaying Mela’s excellent brushwork.

“Fiesta Conga” enters with Congolese rhythms, evoking a celebratory percussion party.  Both Mela’s drumming and his composition speaks with the African percussion. No toes are stepped on in this rhythmic choreography! “Thanks to Life”, a classic and beloved tune by Chilean Violeta Parra, is a fitting tune to end this musical journey. Mela’s vocals are simple and heartfelt. Each section is punctuated with percussion grooves. There is a sharp-voiced piano solo supported by very strong, steady bass work. 

Mela’s Tree of Life has many branches and is made of many colors. His excursion into composing with his own ideas is time and talent well spent. Joe Lovano was right, Mela’s ideas are good.


Review of Sammy Figueroa & His Latin Jazz Explosion's " URBAN NATURE"

Sammy Figueroa: "Urban Nature" (Senator 1001)

by Janine Santana

For years he has been heard as the driving percussion force behind many disparate legends in a variety of music genres.  Involved in multiple Grammy-winning projects, and well versed as a multi percussionist in a variety of world rhythms, he is firmly established as a first call recording and touring musician. Yet this is not where Sammy Figueroa will stay. He has stepped away from being a sideman to shine as a leader.  Figueroa’s skills, mature savvy and humor are revealed with perfect timing in his new CD, “Urban Nature”. While the groove of this recording is Latin; the harmonies are definitely jazz. Figueroa’s percussion work throughout the album is both driving and elegant, and the synchronicity of the rhythm section is a continuous joy.

The recording starts off like a cannon with “Gufillo”composed by pianist Silvano Monasterios The piano and percussion weave in and out of each other, and tastefully recede for the muted trumpet solo played by Alexander Pope Norris. Figueroa offers an elegant conga solo, and is out cleanly and swiftly. “Urban Nature” reflects the grooves that grow and thrive in the city. It maintains a good pace while staying true to the relaxed groove. Composed by bassist Gabriel Vivas, it includes a fine bass line that Figueroa answers tastefully with his congas. “Latin What?” is a fun composition featuring a conversational trumpet solo by by Norris and a playful answer by guest saxophonist Ed Calle. “Zuliana”a ballad by Monasterios, changes the mood from playful to romantic. It starts out simple and sweet, and features an attractive chord progression.  The dancing Venezuelan rhythms of guest percussionist José Gregorio Hernandez add a whole new flavor at the close of the tune. 

“7th Door to Your Left” is a composition by Monasterios in 7/8 that showcases the good groove of Figueroa’s percussion. Trumpeter Norris and saxophonist John Michalak contribute fine solos to this piece. The congas and bass strongly support the 7/8 groove while Monesterios’ piano travels freely through an expressive solo.  The excellent drum solo by Nomar Negroni was far too short…I would have liked to hear more. A live performance of this tune would be a real treat! “Cuco Y Olga” invokes the traditional, well-loved Afro-Cuban rhythms, and uses jazz motives over traditional Latin voicings. “Cha Cha Pa Ti” was composed by bassist Gabriel Vivas and it features a fun horn line riding over the top of a tasteful and creative bass line. “Queen of the South” is a sweet, sultry tune, but Michalak’s sax could have been more relaxed. Vivas’ composed the disc’s final tune, “Funny Talk”, and the bass line intertwines with piano and percussion.  Norris contributes another playful trumpet solo, and Figueroa plays a tasty improvisation.

The mixing and production work are the work of a very good ear. A fan of Latin rhythm, a fan of fusion, a fan of jazz will all find something to satisfy in this recording.


Review of Stefon Harris/David Sánchez/Christian Scott's Ninety Miles


Stefon Harris, David Sánchez, Christian Scott

Featuring Rember Duharte and Harold López-Nussa quartets

Produced by John Burk & Chris Dunn

Concord Picante Music Group CPI-32904-00


It may be only ninety miles from the tip of the Florida Keys to the coast of Cuba, but there is a vast chasm of ideologies and cultures between the two countries. The Ninety Miles Project was designed to breach these differences through the art of jazz. After experiencing the amazing energy exchange between artists and audiences at a Cuban jazz festival, producer John Burk created this collaboration between the American jazz artists Stefon Harris (vibes), David Sánchez (tenor saxophone) and Christian Scott (trumpet), and Cuban jazz quartets led by Rember Duharte and Harold-López Nussa. It took over a year of negotiating to acquire travel visas to Cuba. The persistence of this creative team has paid off, culturally and musically benefitting all of us.

Harris, Sánchez and Scott were given one week in Havana to recruit, perform and record with local musicians. The CD opens with Ñengueleru (Rember Duharte) begins abruptly with piano setting a delicious groove, bass, congas, vibes and horns layering in with the flavors of Afro-Cuban and New Orleans energy and style. It is immediately apparent that all of these highly skilled musicians immediately know each other through listening. Language is no barrier, as they all speak the jazz language quite fluently. The second piece, E’Cha (Harold López-Nussa) is urban, accentuated with passionate percussion work. Although the vibes sound bright, not as warm as we are used to hearing from Harris, it is mixed well with the other instruments. The rhythm section brings out the warmth of Harris’ borrowed instrument. Scott contributes a trumpet solo that whispers and soars.

City Sunrise (David Sánchez) starts off with a definitive Afro-Cuban bass line, continues with a variety of percussion and gradually brings in the horns. It is a beautiful ensemble piece, building and relaxing, blending effortlessly while maintaining the excitement of a city sunrise in a new land. Congo (Rember Duharte) has a funk impression coloring its bass and percussion work while And This Too Shall Pass (Stefon Harris) employs a good use of space in the vamp before it forcefully hits the tip of the tune. In Brown Belle Blues (Stefon Harris) one can hear the flavors of Havana, New Orleans and New York City. The rhythm section’s drive is irresistible to a dancer. The CD closes with La Fiesta Va (Harold López-Nussa), a tune that has tasty flow and breaks. With a sax solo by Sánchez that is beautifully understated, expressing power and desire, it is the piece that exposes the appetite for the kind of collaboration this kind of international project achieves. It is a full length CD project at 51.38 minutes which still ends too soon. One is left wanting… but there is more. There is a DVD teaser for the documentary film of this sojourn that accompanies the music CD.

The DVD teaser included with the CD package is for the soon-to-be-released Ninety Miles Project documentary. It begins with a shot taken from the back seat of a 1955 DeSoto being driven through the streets of Havana by Stefon Harris, accompanied by David Sánchez and Christian Scott, then switches to a shot of them leisurely fishing before it moves into the interviews, street scenes of Havana and live performances. The documentary is directed by Devin DeHaven. DeHaven has visually captured the musical empathy and approval of the musicians as they create in live performance. One can “see” them listening and “hear” them seeing the concept before them. The sneak peek includes two live tunes from the CD: City Sunrise and La Fiesta Va. One can sense the appreciation and high respect that the musicians have for each other throughout these performances. When referring to this cultural collaboration,  López-Nussa states (translated from Spanish) “ This is what we live from, this is what we feed from” to which Harris adds, “Human beings are so much bigger than ‘culture’ – we are all the same”.

This is a CD/DVD set to add to any Latin jazz fan’s collection.