Marbella, the beautiful woman by the sea

I just got back from Marbella, Spain, where the weather is hot, the sun’s always shining and the colors are intense (at least in July).

For me, the South of Spain—Andalusia—conjures up my beloved Velasquez, García Lorca and of course the native son of Malaga, Picasso. It was my first time in this part of the country so I did the usual tourist things. The great hotels of Marbella looked empty under the sizzling sun; I loved all the local decors like Plaza Romano in Hotel Puente Romao:

Andalusia is the land of Flamenco (not to be confused with the pink bird flamingo) and these paintings by Fabian Perez, translate the passion of this dance into beautiful images:

But the real ladies of Spain were painted by my beloved Velasquez: the Infantas (daughters of a king of Spain, in this case Philip IV)— infanta Margarita who stared at me for years from a poster in my kitchen and infanta Maria Theresa who became the wife of Louis XIV and lived way longer than her poor sister, Margarita.

I will make a post about Velasquez and one about Goya, once I visit the Prado in Madrid, but for now this post should do. These ladies with these extremely wide panniers inspired me to do a little Velasquez of my own:

I even drew one on the walls of the majestic Villa Padierna…

Las Meninas are everywhere in Spain even on a couple of Spanish fans I bought!

I wrote this post listening for the nth time to the superb Miles Davies’ Sketches of Spain, one of his best works.

Now let me take you to old town Marbella. It is a maze of narrow streets with white houses, restaurants and Bougainvillea galore! For good food check out Da Bruno.

Lots of small shops offering completely unnecessary but fun stuff:

The blue hour (the sun sets at 10 pm in summer) is accompanied by a dizzying fragrance of flowers.

I especially liked the  300-year-old statue of the Virgin—Virgen de los dolores— surrounded by dazzling plants:

A fun thing to do was to go to the open air market, bustling with life and colors; my mother (below in the middle) and my cousins were busy making good deals:

Southern Spain is a polka dotted country and they start dancing flamenco early:

Seeing all the beautiful vegetables, the Southern Californian (read Mexican) in me couldn’t resist treating everybody to a homemade quesadilla:

I went south of the border in every detail even the beer:

The trick is lots of green onions!

A good meal with family and friends is one of the blessings we usually take for granted.

Now back in Spain again, I shouldn’t be impressed with flowers but these hibiscuses were a red that only Goya would have understood…

The Villa had a swimming pool, a shallow spanish tile pool, a lion head fountain and Sepideh, my cousin, did her best to model for me by all three!

She looks so authentically Spanish that she’s had gotten into fights with some people in Malaga who accused her of lying when she claims to be Persian; the fact that she speaks Spanish well has not helped!

Can’t resist a poem of Garcia Lorca (english first and then spanish):

Green, how I want you green.
Green wind. Green branches.
The ship out on the sea
and the horse on the mountain.
With the shade around her waist
she dreams on her balcony,
green flesh, her hair green,
with eyes of cold silver.
Green, how I want you green.
Under the gypsy moon,
all things are watching her
and she cannot see them.

Verde que te quiero verde.
Verde viento. Verdes ramas.
El barco sobre la mar
y el caballo en la montaña.
Con la sombra en la cintura
ella sueña en su baranda,
verde carne, pelo verde,
con ojos de fría plata.
Verde que te quiero verde.
Bajo la luna gitana,
las cosas la están mirando
y ella no puede mirarlas.

Spain is a beautiful woman…

Check out this clip for a passionate and seductive flamenco dance by Belen Maya and its vocal version, Cante Jondo or deep song.

Watch the legendary Antonio Gades dancing it to perfection here.

Listen to Miles’ Sketches of Spain here.

Watch Carlos Saura’s Iberia trailer here.

For the beautiful poem (in Spanish and English) I used in my infanta image, read Dave Bonta’s post here.

The Art of Jazz

These are the most interesting jazz images i’ve seen! The exhibition in Quai Branly museum in Paris was amazingly rich with visual complements to my favorite genre of music. Catch it if you can but if you don’t, here’s my report:

Birth of the cool Miles Davis 1949 michele roohani

Miles Davis remains one of my favorites—the following are mostly LP covers from the mid 20th century:

Bud Freeman,

Bud Freeman michele roohani

To go through all of my images and get inspired to prepare them for this post, I’ve been  listening to Mingus’ “better get it in your soul”.

Just look at this super cool Count Basie cover by Andy Warhol:

Count Basie michele roohani

Benny Carter plays pretty:

benny carter michele roohani

Sidney Bechet in Paris in 1952:

Sidney Bechet paris 1952 michele roohani

Dizzy Gillespie’s sextet,

Dizzy Gillespie michele roohani

Daddy plays the horn,

daddy plays the horn michele roohani

The beautiful music of Charlie (the Bird) Parker,

Charlie Parker michele roohani Bird

I like these very 50’s percussion disc covers,

persuasive percussion michele roohani

I am listening to Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane’s “Nutty”,

Thelonious Monk San francisco michele roohani

Now some posters from the 1920’s forward—Cary Hauser’s Jonny Mene La Danse from 1928:

Jonny Mene 1928 michele roohani

Look at the musicians here:

victoria attraction poster michele roohani

Grand Bal de Nuit,

Grand Bal de Nuit poster michele roohani

Jan Mara’s Mezze Mezzrow is soooo not “Kenny (my middle name is boring) G”!

Jan Mara Mezz Mezzrow michele roohani

A relatively more recent poster from the Lincoln Center:

jazz Lincoln center poster michele roohani

Now some paintings—Harlem Jazz by Winold Reiss, 1925:

harlem Jazz Winold Reiss 1925 michele roohani

The Lindy Hop by Miguel Covarrubias, 1936:

the Lindy hop Miguel Covarrubias 1936 michele roohani

James WeeksTwo Musicians;

two musicians james weeks 1960 michele roohani

Nicolas de Stael‘s Musicians:

musicians Nicolas de Stael michele roohani

Blues by Archibald J. Motley Jr, 1929

Blues Archibald J. Motley Jr 1929 michele roohani

Bernard Buffet‘s light drawings:

Buffet jazz drawings michele roohani

This Coltrane image is haunting:

sound of Coltrane michele roohani

and a very politically incorrect piece here called “cake-walk”—can’t imagine an American museum showing this:

le cake walk michele roohani

Last but not least was this fabulous Fred Astair’s homage to Mr Bojangles on a huge screen that I manipulated of course!

fred astair shadow  Bojangles michele roohani

to see him dance watch this absolutely great clip here.

century of jazz quai branly michele roohani

It was very hard to take these pictures (some were on very fast slide shows!) and to clean and edit them later but it was a labor of love; I’ve been wanting to do a post about Jazz for the longest time but where to start? Where to end? Who to cover? This was the shortest way I could record my visit to the Land of Jazz. Thank you Daniel Soutif!

jazz exhitbition quai branly ticket michele roohani

Voilà! Now you know…I have not even started talking about some of my other favorites: Louis Armstrong, Bill Evans, Fats Waller, Keith Jarrett, Ahmad Jamal, Lionel Hampton, etc…

To see some cool clips from the coolest of them all, Miles Davis and John Coltrane, go here

for a taste of the great Monk, go here

to hear the Bird,  click here

to see the genius of Fred Astaire here.

Rufus Cappadocia, not your father’s cellist.

Listening to Rufus Cappadocia the other day on NPR, I almost had an accident! I seldom get excited about “fusion/cross-cultural music” but the more I listened to it, the bigger the smile got on my face. Just watch this clip to see what I got all excited about.

rufus cappadocia micheleroohani violoncellist

I liked what I heard so much that I made several images out of the few pictures I could find of him online. Rufus is a New York-based cellist and composer, a multilingual musician, a world music traveler, having studied and performed in a variety of traditions from American blues, folk and jazz to Spanish flamenco, Haitian vodou drumming and various styles from the Balkans, the Middle East and India. Reminding me that his last name, Cappadocia, is where Rumi lived, Rufus told me about his work with Rumi’s poetry and Vishal Vaid, the extraordinary Ghazal vocalist.

rufus cappadocia micheleroohani rumi

His CD sold out after the NPR piece but it will be in stock this week – it’s also available on iTunes. A modified cello has given him the flexibility to play in many settings with other musicians. Rufus is playing on May 18th in Oakland with Stellamara. Check it out if you live in the area.

Rufus Cappadocia stellamara

The real magician is the one who puts Jimmy Hendrix and classical Persian music together…

Lady in Green

I’ve always loved these ladies! I have fun playing with their images. They’ve been called torchères (torchieres), lampposts and some pretty banal names but I think that they deserve to be called by a “grander” name like “the green Lucinas” (Lucina: she who brings children into the light). I’ve photographed them several times (they are the best models, they never move). Their color changes from bronze green to dark jade passing by some moss and celadon.


The Paris opera house is not hosting any operas; it is now mainly used for ballet performances. Carrier-Belleuse, an old friend of Charles Garnier, the architect of this great theater, contributed the elaborate torcheres that hold the candelabra illuminating the grand staircase and the lampposts outside the opera house.


“Opera is where a guy gets stabbed in the back, and instead of dying, he sings. Robert Burns


Red Tango, Blue Tango

I thought I’ve lost most of my buenos aires pictures; what a gorgeous city, what beautiful music, beautiful people…


“El Tango es un pensamiento triste que hasta se puede bailar” – The Tango is a sad thought that you can dance. (Enrique Santos Discépolo)


Be it the sound of the Gotan Project or the great Astor Piazzola, this dance and this music have enchanted millions of people all over the world especially my good friends Andr� (the maestro) and Mitra (the pupil) who share the same birthday on monday, september 3rd.