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Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra with Arturo O'farrill's Rose Theater Debut: A Celebration Of Great Latin Jazz Vocalists
Jazz, 17/12/2004 Comment

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NEW YORK (Jazz At Licoln Center/ www.jalc.org) - Jazz at Lincoln Center's Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra with Arturo O'Farrill (ALJO) makes an eagerly awaited debut performance at Rose Theater in Jazz at Lincoln Center's new home, Frederick P. Rose Hall, with A Celebration of Great Latin Jazz Vocalists on Friday, January 28 and Saturday, January 29 at 8:00pm.
Tickets for these performances, priced at $10, $30, $50, $70, $85, $100, $115, $150, are available at the new Jazz at Lincoln Center box office on Broadway at 60th St. (Ground Floor), by calling CenterCharge at (212) 721-6500 or via www.jalc.org. The critically acclaimed big band will celebrate Latin jazz vocalists and perform selections by the genre's legendary singers. Featured guests Graciela, Claudia Acu?a and Herman Olivera will lend their vocal talents for this exciting evening.

This performance will showcase what Don Heckman, for The Los Angeles Times, reviewed as the ALJO's "rhythmic energy bursting in all directions." A Celebration of Great Latin Jazz Vocalists is sponsored by Time Warner, Inc.

To further ignite the Latin jazz tradition, Jazz at Lincoln Center hosts a very special Jazz Talk: El Ritmo de Mi Tierra - A Latin Jazz Panorama. Rene Lopez, Ray Santos and Arturo O'Farrill with the ALJO rhythm section, will engage in a lecture/demonstration on the roots of Latin jazz on Monday, January 31st at 7pm in the Irene Diamond Education Center in Frederick P. Rose Hall. Tickets are $15 and available at the new Jazz at Lincoln Center box office on Broadway at 60th St. (Ground Floor), by calling CenterCharge at (212) 721-6500 or via www.jalc.org.

This Latin jazz celebration is the first performance of its kind in Rose Theater, one of the performance spaces in Frederick P. Rose Hall, the world's premiere facility designed specifically for jazz.

The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO) is led by pianist and musical director Arturo O'Farrill. The ALJO is the second resident orchestra of Jazz at Lincoln Center, joining the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. Comprised of 18 prominent soloists from the Latin jazz scene, this large ensemble will play classics of the Afro-Latin jazz tradition, commission new works and lead educational events. With the founding of this new ensemble in 2002, Jazz at Lincoln Center helps to continue the long tradition of artistic collaboration between jazz and Latin musicians.
The ALJO performs the very best of the compositions in the canon of the Afro-Latin genre and provides an instrument for a new generation of composers, arrangers and instrumentalists to further progress this craft. The members of the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra are Arturo O'Farrill, Music Director and Piano; Michael Philip Mossman, Trumpet; John Walsh, Trumpet; Jim Seeley, Trumpet; Mike Rodriguez, Trumpet; Luis Bonilla, Trombone; Noah Bless, Trombone; Reynaldo Jorge, Trombone; Douglas Purviance, Bass Trombone; Bobby Porcelli, Alto Saxophone; Erica vonKleist, Alto Saxophone; Pablo Calogero, Baritone Saxophone; Mario Rivera, Tenor Saxophone; Ivan Renta, Tenor Saxophone; Ruben Rodriguez, Bass; Vince Cherico, Drums; Joe Gonzalez, Percussion; and Milton Cardona, Percussion.

Although known as the First Lady of Afro-Cuban Jazz for more than half a century, vocalist Graciela was always more comfortable letting both her brother - legendary bandleader Frank "Machito" Grillo - and her brother-in-law, the equally legendary bandleader Mario Bauza, be the focus of attention. Graciela continues to be one of Latin music's more renowned and revered singers - despite being semi-retired for the past ten years. The Havana-born Graciela, whose last name is Perez, began her professional career with the all-girl group El Septeto Anacaona in the early 1930's and stayed with the band for ten years.
After Machito was drafted into the U.S. army in 1943, she was summoned to New York by Mr. Bauza, the band's musical director, to fill in as the Afro-Cuban Orchestra's lead singer until Machito came back. Graciela only stayed on for 30 years, becoming a top attraction in her own right. Graciela enjoyed one of her biggest hits in the early 1950s with "Si, Si, No, No."
The song was a rearrangement of an old tune called "Mi Cerebro," but Graciela spiced it up by performing it with sexually suggestive lyrics, and she was thereafter known as the "Si, Si No, No Girl." The playful moniker complemented her other unofficial title as the First Lady of Afro-Cuban Jazz.
In 1973 she joined her brother-in-law's band, Mario Bauza's Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra. She remained its lead singer for the next 20 years, but stopped performing when Mr. Bauza died in 1993.
For the past decade, Graciela has taken the stage or entered a recording studio on only rare occasions.

Though she always wanted to be a singer, Chilean jazz vocalist Claudia Acu?a didn't discover jazz music until she was 15. Instead, the Santiago native grew up singing traditional folk songs and current pop hits, but once some of the city's jazz fans heard her perform, they told her she had a natural gift for the style. Ms. Acu?a frequented Santiago's major jazz clubs as a performer as well as an audience member, sitting in on sets with local musicians and meeting luminaries like Wynton Marsalis, Michel Petrucciani and Danilo Perez.
In 1995, Ms. Acu?a moved to New York to pursue her career more seriously. Taking odd jobs and sitting in on as many jam sessions as possible sometimes waiting till the early morning hours for her chance to sing she gradually made a name for herself in the jazz community, eventually performing regular dates at Smalls, Sweet Basil, the Zinc Bar and Metronome.
Through this consistent gigging she met bassist Avishai Cohen, with whom she collaborated on a demo tape that earned her a contract with Verve Records. Mr. Cohen also worked with her on her debut album The Wind From The South, which Verve released in spring 2000.

Born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, singer Herman Olivera received long overdue recongnition as the featured vocalist on three tracks of the Grammy-winning CD, Masterpiece/Obra Maestra (RMM) by Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri in 2001.
Since his days with the band Conjunto Libre, Mr. Olivera has honed a style gleaning from the great soneros of Palladium-era in New York City like Tito Rodriguez, Machito, Santos Coln and others. With a smooth resonate high tenor voice, the self-taught vocalist has contributed great interpretations and metaphorically rich inspiraciones (improvised verses) to an array of tunes such as "Que Humanidad," "Caf," and "Palo Pa' Rumba."
His stints with Eddie Palmieri and the Machito Orchestra have helped Mr. Olivera ascend as a world class salsa singer. Greatly influenced by Fania Records and stellar performers like Cheo Feliciano, it's that salsero spirit nourishing him with historical depth and nuances that adhere to the details of intonation.



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