Headliner: Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra
GRAMMY Award winning pianist, composer and educator Arturo O'Farrill -- leader of the "first family of Afro-Cuban Jazz" (New York Times) -- was born in Mexico and grew up in New York City. Son of the late, great composer Chico O'Farrill, Arturo was educated at Manhattan School of Music, Brooklyn College Conservatory and the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. He played piano in Carla Bley's Big Band from 1979 through 1983 and earned a reputation as a soloist in groups led by Dizzy Gillespie, Steve Turre, Freddy Cole, Lester Bowie, Wynton Marsalis and Harry Belafonte. In 2002, he established the GRAMMY® winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra in order to bring the vital musical traditions of Afro Latin jazz to a wider general audience, and to greatly expand the contemporary Latin jazz big band repertoire through commissions to artists across a wide stylistic and geographic range.
Following his 2009 GRAMMY® Award for "Best Latin Jazz Album" for the Orchestra’s debut recording, Song for Chico (ZOHO), O'Farrill has received numerous GRAMMY® awards and nominations and most recently GRAMMY® wins for The Offense of the Drum ("Best Latin Jazz Album") and Cuba: The Conversation Continues ("The Afro Latin Jazz Suite," "Best Instrumental Composition"). Cuba: The Conversation Continues won a 2016 Latin GRAMMY® for "Best Latin Jazz Album," and his latest album with Chucho Valdés, Familia: Tribute to Bebo & Chico, also won the GRAMMY® Award in the "Best Instrumental Composition" category.
Guest vocalist – Sammy Gonzalez Jr.
Sammy Gonzalez, Jr. was born on June 9, 1961 in Brooklyn the son of Puerto Rican parents. He was inspired growing up in the 70’s by Hector Lavoe and Willie Colon, Ruben Blades, Celia Cruz, and then as time went by Ismael Miranda, Tony Vega, and Gilberto Santa Rosa. In the early 80’s he started singing with a local band called La Evolucion Latina and then later he was called on to sing with the great Baritone player and band leader Ray (rico) Rodriguez y la Herencia Latina. This was followed by singing with Louie Ramirez y La Super Banda for 6 ½ years. Gonzalez recorded three recordings with Louie “El Genio,” “Louie and Friends”, including “Tribute to Cal Jader.” In 1992 when Louis Ramirez and Ray De La Paz got back together to do Otra Noche Caliente, Gozalez Jr. joined up with Johnny Ray y Salsa Con Clase and recorded 8 CD’S with many hits like “Secretos de Amor,” “Suavecito,” “Tienes la Mente Loca” and many more. In 1994 Sammy Gonzalez Jr. teamed up and recorded a CD with Tito Rodriguez Jr. titled ECLIPSE which produced the hit entitled “Mujer Erotica” written and composed by Sammy Gonzalez Jr. featuring him on all the lead vocals.
He has performed with The Big Three Palladium Orchestra and others garnering him continuous praise. Over the course of his 24 career he has performed with artists such as Marc Anthony, Joe Arroyo, Ray Barreto, Ruben Blades, Conjunto Clasico, Willie Colon, El Gran Combo, Celia Cruz, Oscar De Leon, Fajardo, La India, Demencion Latina, Hector Lavoe, Millie y Los Vecinos, Machito Jr, Grupo Niche, Tito Nieves, Tommy Olivencia, Johnny Pacheco, Sonora Ponsena, Puerto Rican Power, Tito Puente, Jerry Rivera, Tito Rodriguez Jr, Willie Rosario, Eddie Santiago, Bobby Valentin, Johnny Ventura, Fernandito Villalona, Franky Ruiz, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Ray De La Paz, and Paul Simon.
Warm-up: People.of.Earth Afro Latin Descarga
P.o.E Afro Latin Descarga is a special Afro-Caribbean Jam from the exciting new band, People of Earth, a world-class collective of musical minds whose origins span three continents with influences. POE is dedicated to creating hip shaking infectious grooves using influences from Cuba, Puerto Rico, and beyond. In POE Cuban clave mixes with rhythms and lyrics from North and South America creating something that is fresh, unique, and super groovy. POE is family to the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, as the majority of the members of the band, including founder Gabriel Globus Heinrich, are teachers or guest artists with ALJA’s educational programs. Tonight’s roster for Descarga POE is Ivan Llanes (vocals & percussion), Ayamey Bell (vocals), Victor Pablo (percussion), Keisel Jimenz (percussioin), Ahmed Alon (piano), Ian Stewart (bass), Rigdzin Collins (violin), Malec Heermans (trombone), Kali Rodriguez (trumpet).
DJ: Christian Martir
Over the last several years, the DJ and modern renaissance man, has spread his love for soulful rhythms everywhere from Madison Square Garden to Mexico City. He has worked with various labels including Daptone Records, Fania Records,Names You Can Trust, and Truth& Soul Records putting out a collection of mixes which have garnered him much respect worldwide. One mix in particular "The Difference Between The Heart and The Method:Reprise" was recognized as one of the Top14 Mixes of the year by Okayplayer.
He holds court at his monthly "A Party Called Rosie Perez" in Brooklyn, which has been featured in The Village Voice and Remezcla. In 2014 he founded Sociedad Records through which he has released a critically acclaimed series of highly sought after rare salsa recordings on vinyl from the golden era of salsa. Additionally the label has established a roster of new artists which are defining the modern Latin sound. In 2018 he launched Sociedad.life a multimedia platform of handpicked curators to highlight the emerging artists and cultures of tomorrow.
Fat Afro Latin Jazz Cats – Youth ensembles & big band
The evening will open with performances from ALJA’s youth big band and ensembles, the Fat Afro Latin Jazz Cats, who will have the chance to display their chops on the Highline stage as they prepare for their upcoming trip to Cuba at the end of the month. The Fat Cats participants are selected in city-wide open auditions and to no charge to the participating students. ALJA’s educational programs this year reached out to 1700 students in 14 public schools and senior centers throughout New York. Proceeds from the night’s festivities will go to supporting the Fat Cats programs as well as ALJA’s education programs in the new York city public schools.
Afro Latin Jazz Alliance
The non-profit Afro Latin Jazz Alliance (ALJA) was established by Arturo O'Farrill in 2007 to promote Afro Latin Jazz through a comprehensive array of performance and educational programs. ALJA self-produces the Orchestra's annual performance season at Symphony Space (2007 - 2017), and maintains a weekly engagement for the Orchestra at the famed jazz club Birdland. The Alliance also maintains a world-class collection of Latin jazz musical scores and recordings. ALJA's education initiatives include the Afro Latin Jazz Academy of Music in-school residency program serving public schools citywide with instrumental and ensemble instruction, and the pre-professional youth orchestra, the Fat Afro Latin Jazz Cats, which prepares the next generation of musicians. The Afro Latin Jazz Alliance maintains an administrative office inside the historic Minisink Townhouse in Central Harlem. For more information on the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, please visit afrolatinjazz.org.
A benefit fundraiser for ALJA’s music education programs in NYC