BOBBY SANABRIA and the MULTI-LATIN GRAMMY NOMINATED
MANHATTAN SCHOOL OF MUSIC AFRO-CUBAN JAZZ ORCHESTRA
To perform a Tribute Concert to ARSENIO RODRÍGUEZ
El Ciego Maravilloso, “The Blind Marvel” from Mantanzas, Cuba
Renowned SALSA vocalist J
(Published: March 13, 2014)
March 3, 2014—Bobby Sanabria and the Multi-Latin Grammy nominated Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, and guest artist, renowned Salsa vocalist Jorge Maldonado, pay tribute to ARSENIO RODRÍGUEZ, El Ciego Marvailloso, “The Blind Marvel” on Friday, March 21 at 7:30 p.m. in the School’s Borden Auditorium. Arsenio Rodríguez is the most important figure in the history of Afro-Cuban-based dance music, and without him, SALSA would not exist today.
Arsenio Rodríguez (born Ignacio Arsenio Travieso Scull in Matanzas, Cuba, August 31, 1911 – died in Los Angeles on December 31, 1970) was a master of the Cuban mandolin known as the tres. He was as transformative in Cuban music as Louis Armstrong was in jazz and is the most important figure in the history of Afro-Cuban-based dance music. Rodríguez was the first bandleader to add the conga drum, piano and multiple trumpets to play Cuban son music. He developed a new hard driving approach known as son montuno which was at the root of what became known as mambo.
Arsenio Rodríguez was also one of Cuba’s most renowned bandleaders and was known as El Ciego Maravilloso (the Blind Marvel). His blindness occurred when he was a child and was kicked in the head by a mule. In 1947 he came to New York and sought medical attention to cure his blindness but was informed that his optic nerves had been completely destroyed. This experience led him to compose one of his most famous works, “La Vida es un Sueño” (“Life is a dream”). In 1950 at the age of 39, Arsenio moved to New York and formed a new conjunto, Arsenio Rodríguez y su Conjunto de Estrellas. He would move back and forth to Cuba, and permanently made New York his home in 1952, where he performed regularly at the Palladium Ballroom, Manhattan Center, Park Plaza, Hunts Point Palace and other dancehalls.
The program features new arrangements of Arsenio Rodríguez’s compositions as well as Kyle Athayde’s “¡Que Viva Harlem!” listed below:
El Mulatto Rumbero (arr. by Kyle Athayde) has been recorded many times by a variety of artists as both a vocal tune and as an instrumental composition. First recorded and popularized by Orquesta Casino De La Playa in the late 1930’s, it is unclear if this tune is by Arsenio Rodríguez since it is attributed to A. Rodríguez. The name Alejandro Rodríguez occasionally appears as its originator and no one knows who Alejandro Rodríguez was. Subsequently full credit has been given to Arsenio Rodríguez.
Tumba y Bongo (Kila, Quiqui y Chocolate) (arr. by Jeremy Fletcher) is dedicated to bongocero Antolin “Papa Kila” Suarez, congueros Israel “Quiqui” Moses Travieso Scull, and Felix “Chocolate” Alfonso. The work celebrates the union of the two instruments that drive the san montuno – the congas and bongo. Arsenio composed this composition to celebrate the prison release of Quiqui who had spent four years incarcerated for stabbing someone who had attacked Arsenio. During Quiqui’s incarceration, Chocolate had replaced him in the group. Bongocero Papa Kila’s riffs are have become a reference point for and part of the DNA of every bongo player performing today.
La Vida Es Un Sueño (arr. by Andrew Neesley) was recorded on February 27, 1948, and is Arsenio’s mournful testament to the realization that he would never see again.
El Elemento Del Bronx (arr. by Andrew Neesley) was composed as a tribute to Arsenio’s new home in the Longwood area of the South Bronx. He flourished in the borough’s vibrant club scene performing for the working class Puerto Rican community.
La Cartera (arr. by Andrew Neesley) became a mega-hit for Brooklyn-born Jewish pianist, bandleader and salsa superstar Larry Harlow in the early 1970’s. It’s lyrics refer to an unfortunate fellow who lost his wallet and is in dire straits. La Cartera is Arsenio’s most well-known song.
¡Que Viva Harlem! composed by Kyle Athayde is a work that reflects all of Arsenio Rodríguez’s innovations – contributions that have made modern Cuban dance and Afro-Cuban jazz music possible. Without Arsenio the complex contrapuntal horn writing by mambo “Lords” – Perez Prado, Machito, Tito Puente, and Tito Rodriguez, would not have been possible and the rhythmic counterpoint that drives modern Afro-Cuban/Latin jazz wouldn’t exist. The modern syncopations of the bass locked with the driving piano guajeos (patterns) that are characteristic of any great contemporary salsa orchestra wouldn’t be present. Bobby Sanabria says, “This extended composition represents the entire spectrum of Afro-Cuban music. From the West and Central African rooted bembe’ and palo to the Cuban son, mambo, bolero, Afro son, rumba and the Puerto Rican yuba’ and their relationship to jazz, this mega opus is an aural tone poem paying tribute to the people of Harlem, birthplace of Afro-Cuban/Latin jazz.”
This extended composition is featured on the forthcoming MSM Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra’s newest CD, ¡Que Viva Harlem!, to be released on the Jazzheads label on April 8, 2014. Proceeds from the sale of all MSM CDs on the Jazzheads label go to the Manhattan School of Music scholarship fund.
Tickets for the MSM Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra concert are $7. For information call 917 493 4428 or visit www.msmnyc.edu. Manhattan School of Music is located at the northwest corner of 122nd Street and Broadway, and is accessible by public transportation. By Subway: The No. 1 train stops at 116th Street at Broadway and 125th Street and Broadway. By Bus: M5 – M4 – M104 – M60 – M11: the M5 arrives at Riverside Drive, the M4 and M104 arrive at Broadway, and the M60 and M11 arrive at Amsterdam Avenue.
Jorge Maldonado has been part of New York City’s vibrant salsa scene as a vocalist, percussionist, performing and recording artist for the past forty years. Known for his poetic vocal improvisations, keen sense of clave and intense swing, he has performed with some of the most legendary artists in the genre including Louis Ramirez y Superbanda, Roberto Torres y the S.A.R. All-Stars, Orquesta Broadway, Charanga America, Johnny Pacheco, Manny Oquendo & Libre, The Mambo Legends Orchestra, The Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band, and the legendary La Sonora Matancera. Jorge Maldonado was a featured performer in Paul Simon’s Broadway production of The Capeman as well as part of the musicals run at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Bobby Sanabria, the multiple Grammy nominated drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, conductor, bandleader, and multi-cultural warrior, has performed and recorded with such legends as Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Paquito D’Rivera, Ray Barretto, Candido, Henry Threadgill, Larry Harlow, and Afro-Cuban Jazz godfather, Mario Bauzá. His first solo recording, N.Y.C. Aché’ has become a cult classic. His first big band recording, Live & in Clave!!!, was nominated for a mainstream Grammy in 2001. In 2003 he was nominated for a Latin Grammy for, 50 Years of Mambo –
A Tribute to Damaso Perez Prado. His 2005 Quarteto Aché’ disc was hailed by the critics as giving a new vision to the standard jazz quartet. The readers of DRUM! Magazine named him Percussionist of the Year in 2006. His re¬cording Big Band Urban Folktales was a 2008 Grammy nominee and won the Jazz Journalists “Latin Jazz CD of the Year” Award. This South Bronx native of Puerto Rican parentage is a 2006 inductee into the Bronx Walk of Fame where he has a street named after him. His 2009 CD, Kenya Revisited Live!!! a re-imagining of the legendary Kenya album by the Machito Afro-Cubans featuring NEA Jazz Master Candido, with incredible new arrangements. This CD, with Bobby conducting the MSM Afro-Cuban Jazz Orches¬tra was nominated for a Latin Grammy for Best Latin Jazz recording. His subsequent CD, Tito Puente Masterworks LIVE !!!!, with the MSM Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra was also nominated for a Latin Grammy in 2011. Bobby is on faculty at Manhattan School of Music (16 years) and the New School (21 years) and leads several ensembles: Quarteto Aché’, Ascensión, and the Bobby Sanabria Big Band. In 2011 and 2013 Bobby Sanabria was named Percussionist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association. He was associate producer of the TV documentaries “The Palladium: Where Mambo Was King” and “From Mambo to Hip Hop.” Mr. Sanabria is featured in the documentary, Latin Music USA, which aired on PBS in October 2009. In 2013, Bobby was honored as recipient of the Puerto Rican Heritage Award by Comite’ Noviembre, the leading Puerto Rican organization in the world, for his works as an activist in helping to restore the Latin Jazz Category to the Mainstream Grammys. His recording, the critically acclaimed Double-Grammy nominated Multiverse, was released in August 2012 on the Jazzheads label. His latest Jazzheads CD, ¡Que Viva Harlem!, with the MSM Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra is scheduled for release on on April 8, 2014.
Kyle Athayde, originally from San Francisco Bay area, is a conductor, director and chief composer and arranger of the NYC big band, “Kyle Athayde Dance Party.” A multi-talented instrumentalist, Kyle plays the vibraphone, piano, trumpet, drums, congas, bongos, timbales, bass and bass clarinet. In addition, he composes and arranges for jazz, classical, afro-cuban, and hip-hop. Kyle Athayde is a graduate of the Juilliard jazz program and currently is a Master’s degree candidate in MSM’s jazz arts department.
Jeremy Fletcher is an accomplished performer, educator and composer. He received a B.F. A. in saxophone performance from Carnegie Mellon University in 1997. In 2002, Jeremy entered MSM to study jazz composition where he worked with Mike Abene, Michael Patterson and Richard Sussman, graduating in 2004 with the Manny Albam Prize for jazz composition. In 2008, he graduated from Manhattan School of Music with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree. Jeremy also studied at the Henry Mancini Institute in Los Angeles as the recipient of an ASCAP scholarship. He has written commissions for the New York City all City High School Jazz Band, the College of New Jersey big Band, and the 90th anniversary of Manhattan School of Music. He most recently contributed one original and one arrangement to the Grammy-nominated CD, “Big Band Urban Folktales” by Bobby Sanabria. His original composition “D Train” was also licensed by the Bose Corporation for use in their product demonstrations. Jeremy Fletcher is also an educator and serves as the instrumental music director at St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in Newark, New Jersey. He has taught in the Pittsburgh, PA public schools as well as in both public and private schools in the tri-state area. His students have received national recognition in Downbeat magazine.
Andrew Neesley is an award-winning jazz trumpeter and inventive composer based in New York. He has performed, composed and arranged with the Bobby Sanabria Big Band on their Grammy-nominated releases, “Big Band Urban Folktales” and “Multiverse.” He also composed and arranged for Bobby Sanabria and the MSM Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra’s Grammy-nominated “Kenya Revisited LIVE!!!” As a leader of his own bands, Nees, Vos and Jesus On the Mainline, he has released 3 CD’s and has recently successfully crowd-funded albums via Kickstarter.com. His work as a composer and arranger is published through Ron Keezer’s Really Good Music, LLC, Neesley Music and Missing Link Music. Andrew Neesley is a recipient of the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer’s award as well as a student award winner in Downbeat magazine for Best Engineered Studio Album. As an art director, he worked on the Grammy-nominated and winning CDs of Maria Schneider, “Sky Blue” and “Winter Morning Walks,” the Gil Evans Centennial Project, “Centennial” as well as Jim Hall’s “Live Vol. 2.” Andrew Neesley is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Manhattan School of Music, where he serves as Associate Jazz Coordinator.
The Multi-Latin Grammy-nominated MSM Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, under the direction of Bobby Sanabria, has been internationally recognized for its recordings on the Jazzheads label as well as for performances at prestigious jazz conferences. In October 2012, the orchestra honored the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce with a concert that celebrated current and past performance venues that have called Harlem home. In 2009, they released the critically acclaimed Grammy-nominated CD, Kenya Revisited Live!!! This recording, also featuring NEA Jazz Master Candido Camero, is from a historic concert held at MSM (2008) that celebrated the 50th anniversary of Machito & The Afro-Cubans 1957 jazz masterwork, Kenya. In 2011, the MSM Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra under Maestro Sanabria’s leadership released the critically acclaimed Latin Grammy nominated CD, Tito Puente Masterworks Live!!! Audiophile Audition said about the recording, “The Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra is unrecognizable as a student ensemble … the soloists are of such a high level that none of them emerge as more memorable than the others.”
The MSM Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra and Bobby Sanabria have performed sold-out shows at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola and in NYC jazz venues such as Birdland, and the Jazz Standard, as well as on the plaza of the Harlem State Office Building. Guest artists who have appeared with the ensemble include NEA Jazz Masters Ray Barretto, and Candido Camero. Others include Sonny Fortune, Tom Harrell, Arturo O’Farrill, Ronnie Cuber and David Sanchez, among many others. The MSM Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra and Bobby Sanabria are dedicated to performing the music of ‘la tradición,’ paying homage to these legends while continuing to pass on and advance the tradition to the next generation.
Bobby Sanabria and the MSM Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra’s newest CD, ¡Que Viva Harlem! is to be released on the Jazzheads label on April 8, 2014.
Jazz Arts at MSM
Manhattan School of Music is one of the first conservatories in the United States to acknowledge the importance of jazz as an art form by establishing undergraduate and graduate degree programs in jazz. It is also one of the richest programs of its kind, thanks to systematic and rigorous conservatory training combined with a myriad of performance and networking opportunities in New York City. In addition to a variety of small combos, student performing ensembles include the Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, Concert Jazz Band, Jazz Orchestra, Jazz Philhar¬monic, and Chamber Jazz Orchestra. Under the leadership of longtime faculty member and eminent jazz artist-and-educator Justin DiCioccio, the program strives to produce students who perform, compose, and teach with equal facility and passion.
The Jazz Arts Administrative team includes Justin DiCioccio, Associate Dean and Chair; Chris Rosenberg, Manager of Jazz Administration; Stephanie Crease, Senior Coordinator; and Andrew Neesley, Assistant Coordinator.
More Information: http://www.msmnyc.edu