Jazz hands

The Bert Dalton Brazil Project

Santa Fe, N.M.-based pianist Bert Dalton may not look like your prototypical Latin jazz musician, but he’s as experienced and talented as they come.

Growing up in Chicago, he was exposed to the Windy City’s lively Latin jazz scene at any early age. It hooked him almost immediately, and he’s lived and breathed music ever since, working as a pianist, arranger, composer, educator and producer for decades.

Learning never stops, however, and while Dalton is an authority of Latin music, he found himself wanting to explore its offshoots.

“Latin is such a huge umbrella term,” he said. “There are a couple of different flavors that I think really stand out. Latin jazz, which is more Afro-Cuban-based, and is something I’ve explored a lot, of course, but I’d just wanted to learn more about Brazilian music.”

He’s a hands-on learner — most pianists are — so he thought it best to start a new group to dive right in. Bringing along the other two pieces who constitute The Bert Dalton Trio (bassist Rob “Milo” Jaramillo and drummer John Bartlit), Dalton also recruited acclaimed New Mexico vocalist Patty Stephens and percussionist Frank Leto to form The Bert Dalton Brazil Project.

The fresh act’s first order of business? Learning Brazilian jazz standards. No problem!

“Right away, from the first moment, the group just completely gelled,” Dalton said.

a bit of a learning curve existed, he said, it’s been mostly a fun one.
“As a jazz musician, it’s whole new aspects to discover. It’s something
I’ve always been fascinated with. You have all those beautiful textures
of the Latin rhythms, the way they treat the beat. And on top of that,
you have gorgeous melodies and these really interesting harmonies,”
Dalton said. “That’s what hooked me as a piano player: the opportunity
to play cool rhythms and beautiful melodies.”

The reaction to the group has been overwhelmingly positive, earning awards from its home state and glowing reviews.

so much joy, love and heart to this music that is conveyed. We are
playing this music because we love this music — there’s no other real
reason why,” Dalton said. “It’s danceable and festive, and it’s just
likable music. You can’t help but have a good time when you hear a good

The Bert
Dalton Brazil Project is booked to play shows the rest of the summer —
including Norman’s threeday Jazz in June festival this weekend — before
heading back into the studio with sights set on diving even deeper and
composing original songs.

a nice collaboration here,” Dalton said. “Now that we’ve established
this group, we want to build on things and create our own music.”

David Sanborn
Credit: Lynn Goldsmith

Wanna have sax?: Jazz in June schedule


7 p.m. Steve Coleman & The OBS All-Stars

9 p.m. Carolyn Wonderland

11 p.m. Blues Jam with Steve Coleman & The OBS All-Stars


7:15 p.m. What’s That

9:15 p.m. The Bert Dalton Brazil Project


6 p.m. New Horizons Jazz Band

6:45 p.m. Norman High School Jazz Combo

7:10 p.m. Ivan Peña Ensemble

8:35 p.m. Norman High School Jazz Combo

9 p.m. David Sanborn

11 p.m. Jazz Jam with The Grant Goldstein Ensemble

Joshua Boydston

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