A festive yearlong tribute to The Jazz Gallery’s 25-year legacy

NEW YORK, NY, January 15, 2020 /Neptune100/ — February is generally considered one of the coldest months in New York City, but that’s about to change with the arrival of The Jazz Gallery’s Jazz Cubano Series. Memories of Auld Lang Syne will surely drift away a lot sooner when the polyrhythmic beats of Afro-Cuban jazz, and a parade of expats – from masters to young upstart voices, take the stage at The Jazz Gallery beginning in February and running monthly through December, 2020. Brace yourselves, it’s about to get hot in New York City!

Since its transformation in 1995, from rehearsal space to not-for-profit creative space for the expression of artistic excellence in jazz and “jazz influenced visual artwork”, The Gallery has been a welcoming home for some of the most outstanding, multi-ethnic musical and multi-disciplinary leaders who have come from every part of the globe. It was founder Dale Fitzgerald and artistic director, Rio Sakairi who arranged and hosted the iconic Cuban pianist and eight-time Grammy Awards-winner, Chucho Valdez’s first New York appearance that took place at The Jazz Gallery. This became a precursor to the 2000-2001 weekly Jazz Cubano series, curated by Cuban born saxophonist/percussionist, Yosvany Terry.

As the celebration of The Jazz Gallery’s 25-year legacy begins in 2020, highlighting the venue’s nurturing influence in nurturing future generations of musical talent and its role as a key player in fostering New York’s vibrant jazz community – anticipation over the return of Jazz Cubano grows. Lovers of Latin, Salsa, Afro-Cuban jazz and bop fusion are in for a treat.

The Series begins on Saturday, February 29th with a true virtuoso, pianist Osmany Paredes, known for tempering his approach to traditional Afro-Cuban jazz with a more modern-edge – creating something of a fiery and improvisational style to his music that is truly captivating. He is an imposing figure both physically, rhythmically and intellectually – a composer/arranger and educator who has made his mark on the scene.

He is followed by a highly-anticipated roster of talent, curated by Cuban-born pianist David Virelles, from the extensive community of Cuban expat jazz musicians, scattered all across North Americas and everywhere else, for this iteration of the Jazz Cubano Series.

On Saturday, March 14 – The Gallery welcomes vocalist/pianist/dancer Melvis Santa, one of the most energetic, multi-disciplinary young Afro-Cuban artists making her way unto today’s jazz stages. Santa gained rapid recognition in Cuba when she created the R&B quartet, Sexto Sentido at the ripe old age of 14. The group was likened to America’s Destiny’s Child and was championed by the great Chucho Valdez. It went on to win the coveted Cubadisco Prize. By the time Melvis arrived in New York in 2014, she had experimented with a variety of music genres including rap, and was known as an actress, dancer and educator. But her true passion is reflected in her expression of Afro-Cuban fusion.

Saturday, April 11 – Cuban saxophonist, composer, and band leader Roman Filiú takes the stage at The Jazz Gallery. Born in Santiago, Cuba, Roman is now a New York-based, internationally renowned and much sought after artist. He has played with the best of the best, including with Chucho Valdes’ group Irakere on the Grammy nominated Babalu Aye and Grammy Award Winning New Conceptions. A Jazz Gallery Commissions artist, he is the recipient of numerous other awards including the Chamber Music America New Jazz Works Award.

Thursday, May 14 – Pianist, composer, arranger Hilario Duran brings his Contumbao Quartet to The Jazz Gallery’s stage, following a busy 2019 tour schedule. Duran took over for Chucho Valdes, when he left as leader of Cuba’s famed big band, Orquestra Cubana de Musica Moderna, before migrating north to Canada, to continue his musical pursuits. He had the distinct pleasure of working and learning from legends that included the late great Dizzy Gillespie. He is the recipient of several Canadian Juno Awards, is a Grammy Awards nominee, and in 2007 he was the recipient of the Chico O’Farrill Lifetime Achievement Award from Latin Jazz USA, for outstanding contributions to Afro-Cuban Jazz and Latin Jazz.

Sunday, June 21 – Xiomara & Axel Laugart bring their brand of musical magic to The Gallery. This mother-son duo has an indefinable chemistry; their music is a fluid blend of various influences from classic swing, Caribbean, pop, bebop and more. Xiomara, an internationally acclaimed star, is known in her native Cuba as the “Voice of Cuba”. Her son, pianist Axel Tosca, possesses a dynamic flair and inquisitive nature which has led him to explore new musical angles, including the cross-connective ties between hip hop and jazz. This came in handy when he had the opportunity to play with the immensely successful hip-hop band, The Roots, during their visit to Cuba. The pair will be performing during the 14th edition of Make Music New York, the largest music event ever to take root in New York City, with celebrations planned in all five boroughs.

Saturday, July 11 – The brilliant saxophonist/percussionist, Yosvany Terry, brings his brand of spice to life at The Gallery. Once the curator of the Jazz Cubano Series, and director of the house band during that run, he now joins his fellow expat Cubano musicians in recreating for audiences a slice of their island home. Yosvany has had the distinction of recording with jazz, Afro-Cuban Jazz and Latin Jazz luminaries, including Eddie Palmieri, Silvio Rodriguez, Steve Coleman, Vijay Iyer, and many more. The recipient of a Doris Duke Artist Award, his album New Throned King was nominated for a Grammy in 2015.

Saturday, September 12 – Cuban percussionist, Marvin Diz began his pursuit of a professional career performing with some of the best musicians in Cuba including with Latin jazz outfit Latin Project, the Nubiola Sisters’ Cuban son band, and Bakuleye Orchestra in Cuba. He furthered the development of his artistry after leaving his homeland, playing alongside an impressive list of gifted musicians, among them – songstress Miriam Bayard, the legendary Mexican composer and vocalist Armando Manzanero, and with Tropicana while in Costa Rica. Now established in New York’s vibrant jazz community, he continues to work with superb talent, and local Cuban groups and has been featured on recordings with giants such as Eddie Palmieri, Giovanni Hidalgo, Paquito D’Rivera, and Pablo Vergara.

Saturday, October 23 & 24 – David Virelles, Cuban jazz pianist/composer brings his distinctive musical styling to The Jazz Gallery. Since landing on New York’s shores, Virelles has been playing with jazz royalty like Steve Coleman, Henry Threadgill, Chris Potter, Milford Graves, and Ravi Coltrane to name a few. Virelles is the recipient of a number of prestigious awards, among them Canada Council for the Arts and Louis Applebaum Awards, he is a Shifting Foundation Fellow and was a 2012 Jazz Gallery Commission recipient.

Saturday, November 14 – Based in Spain, Cuban born pianist Ivan “Melon” Lewis is considered by many to be one of the most influential and talented pianists of his generation. A Latin Grammy nominee, in 2014 he formed The Cuban Swing Express, after touring with a host of different artists. The group has distinguished itself by combining a mix of traditional and bold new sounds in a distinctive format. Their repertoire often mixes original compositions with their own stylized versions of songs by popular musicians and groups including the Rolling Stones and Herbie Hancock.

Saturday, December 12 – The Jazz Cubano Series concludes its year long run with a performance by the legendary Cuban guitarist, Jorge Chicoy, whom noted NY Times best-selling author T.J. English described as “…a Cuban legend, as vital on the guitar as Chucho Valdez on the piano or Cachao on the bass. His style is both modern and classic, but most of all it is dazzling.”

About The Jazz Gallery
The Jazz Gallery is a not-for-profit Jazz cultural center founded in 1995.  They have been providing a space and audience for musicians at various stages of development to freely experiment, learn, and grow! Their audiences, in turn, enjoy the music in present tense. The Jazz Gallery is located at: 1160 Broadway (below 28th Street), 5th floor, in the Flatiron District of Manhattan.

The Jazz Gallery’s performances are supported in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts, Presenting Program; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; the Silicon Valley Community Foundation; New Music USA’s Impact Fund; the Cheswatyr Foundation; Rockefeller Brothers Fund; Howard Gilman Foundation; and the Aaron Copland Fund for Music.