Rising Superstar Raul Midon At Telluride Jazz Celebration

[click “Play” to hear Raul Midon’s conversation with Susan]

Raul 4 Telluride Jazz Celebration impresario Paul Machado is a champion of diversity. The line-up for the 2010 musical happening, More Than Jazz, may be his most imaginative and wide-ranging to date, moving across the cultural spectrum from Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks to Chuchito Valdez. The Guest of Honor is the 80-yer-old legend, bebop piano/bandleader/arranger Toshiko Akiyoshi, but the 30-year-old pianist Hiromi performs with Stanley Clarke. Another relative youngster in this crowd is also a rising star, singer-songwriter-guitarist Raul Midon.

Midon is on the Telluride Jazz Celebration schedule Friday night at The Nugget, Saturday afternoon on the Toshiko Akiyoshi Town Park Stage and Sunday for a late show at The Nugget again.

Raul Midon, a blind, New-Mexico-born, half-Argentinian/half African-American R & B/jazz artist, is best described for his silky, soulful tenor as a cross between Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway. Throw Stanley Jordan into the mix for Midon’s percussive guitar style, a syncopated, flamenco- and jazz-infused approach in which bass, harmony and melodic lines emanate from the fretboard in a slap-happy storm, and the picture comes into sharp focus.

After graduating the University of Miami, where he participated in the school’s prestigious jazz curriculum, Midon walked away from a lucrative career as an in-demand back-up singer in the Latin pop world to pursue a career as a solo artist in New York.

Midon developed his show-stopping performance style as a tweener for a Top 40 band playing a club in the West Village. He began to attract a buzz and eventually landed a monthly residency at the highly regarded downtown club, Joe’s Pub. In 2003, Midon was approached backstage to perform “The Movie Music of Spike Lee” at Carnegie Hall, alongside Terence BlanchardCassandra Wilson, and Bruce Hornsby. Midón received a standing ovation, a rave in The New York Times, and, eventually, an audience with legendary producer Arif Mardin, who produced his first album, State of Mind.

Synthesis is Midon’s third release, recorded in 2009 with producer and bassist Larry Klein, noted for his work with such luminaries as Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock, and Peter Gabriel. A genre-defying blend of soul, pop, jazz, folk, and Latin elements, Synthesis showcases Midón’s evolution as an artist as he sets some of his more biting insights about betrayal, fear, loss, and the American Dream to deceptively up-tempo swinging rhythms and deliriously catchy melodies.

 “One of those rare musical forces that remind us how strong and deep the connection between man and music can sometimes be,” raved Guitar Player.

To learn more, click the “play” button and listen to Raul Midon’s interview.

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