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Machito & the Impact of the Afro-Cubans at 80



Machito & The Impact of the Afro-Cubans at 80

Machito & The Impact of the Afro-Cubans at 80Hostos Center for the Arts and Culture announces complete schedule, artistic personnel and activities for Machito & the Impact of the Afro-Cubans at 80 (May 2 – 4, 2019)

(Bronx, NY) – Modeled after the highly acclaimed retrospective of Tito Puente in 2017, the Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture will honor the late iconic singer and bandleader Francisco “Machito” Grillo (1908-1984) and his Orchestra (the Afro-Cubans) in a 3-day celebration May 2-4 on the campus of Hostos Community College, 450 Grand Concourse (at 149th Street), in the Bronx. “Machito & the Impact of the Afro-Cubans at 80” examines the Orchestra’s influence on a variety of Latin musical styles, including Latin jazz that affected the music of Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Stan Kenton and others.

The festival’s ten events, many free, also delve into the careers and impact of Machito’s family members and musical partners in the Afro-Cubans – Mario Bauzá (1911- 1993) and vocalist Graciela (1915-2010), known as the “First Lady of Latin Jazz.” Bauzá, was a talented multi-instrumentalist who served as musical director of his brother-in-law’s orchestra and encouraged Machito to embrace American jazz with Cuban rhythms. After Machito was drafted in the Army, Bauzá brought Machito’s sister Graciela (Peréz-Gutiérrez) from Cuba to join the band as lead singer. After Machito’s return from service, the three shared the stage for 32 years, topping the charts and reigning supreme at New York’s Palladium Ballroom in its heyday.  Machito was the eldest of “The Three Kings” – the moniker given to the celebrated band leaders that performed at the Palladium  – the others being Tito Puente, who was a timbalist in Machito’s Afro-Cubans in 1941, and the singer Tito Rodríguez who made his last public appearance with Machito in 1973.

Under the artistic direction of Machito’s son, Mario Grillo, as well as Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra bassist and composer Carlos Henríquez and Latin music historian Joe Conzo, Sr., the festival is designed for both Machito enthusiasts and those less familiar with his music.  Henríquez leads “Machito and Beyond” on Thursday, May 2, at 7:30 PM, in a concert that includes acclaimed vocalist Cita Rodríguez, a host of New York’s top young jazz musicians, plus some legendary percussion veterans, for a youthful take on some Machito classics. Bobby Sanabria & Ascensión will take to the stage in a free family concert on Saturday, May 4, at 11 AM, with an informative performance demonstrating how Machito & the Afro-Cubans brought Cuban forms to Latin jazz. The final concert on Saturday, May 4 at 7:30 PM features The Machito Orchestra in its 80th Anniversary concert under the direction of Mario Grillo, who carries on his father’s legacy, and featuring guest vocalist and two-time Grammy winner Herman Olivera. In addition to these concerts, the three-day celebration includes listening sessions, a panel discussion, a film presentation, a museum exhibit with tour, a Latin rhythm workshop, and a closing Mambo Dance Party in the Hostos Café.

Tickets, including 3-day passes for $45, and a schedule of events are available at or by calling (718) 518-4455.

Machito & The Impact of the Afro-Cubans at 80 01


Listening Room
Prior to the Thursday evening and Saturday evening concerts, in the Longwood Art Gallery @ Hostos beginning at 6 PM, Joe Conzo, Sr., presents “The Listening Room,” one hour sessions that will include information and musical anecdotes about the concerts as well as never before heard recordings of Machito from different periods. Among the many rare recordings, include performances of Machito with Charlie Parker and Ella Fitzgerald.  Conzo, who has lectured on Machito and Latin music for Hostos Community College’s Continuing Education division for the last six years, has an unmatched collection of Machito live recordings. Admission is free, and includes a complimentary glass of wine.

Opening Concert: Machito and Beyond
For the opening concert, “Machito and Beyond” on Thursday, May 2, at 7:30 PM in the Main Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra bassist / composer / arranger Carlos Henríquez directs an ensemble of  top young jazz artists augmented by a veteran percussion section. They will perform a curated selection of Machito’s music including songs of Graciela sung by guest vocalist Cita Rodríguez. The percussionists — former member of The Machito Orchestra and longtime musical director of the Tito Puente Orchestra José Madera, whose father was an original member of the Afro-Cubans, Machito/Puente veteran Louis Bauzo and Puente alumnus John “Dandy” Rodríguez will be featured in “Bongo Fiesta” and other tunes. The concert will also include a world premiere of long-time Machito Orchestra saxophonist / composer / arranger Ray Santos.  Orchestra seating is $25 and Mezzanine seating is $20; $5 for students and under 18. (See below for details)

Exhibit Tour
To continue the celebration on Friday, May 3 at 6:30 PM, Joe Conzo, Sr., will lead a guided tour of the exhibit Machito and Mario: The Roots of Afro-Cuban Jazz in the C-Atrium. Conzo, the author of Mambo Diablo: My Journey with Tito Puente is currently writing a book on the “Big Three” bandleaders—Machito, Tito Puente, and Tito Rodríguez. The exhibit was developed by and is on loan from the National Jazz Museum in Harlem.

Film Screening
A presentation of the biographical documentary Machito: A Latin Jazz Legacy (1987) by Carlos Ortiz will be held on Friday, May 3, at 7:30 PM in the Repertory Theater. One-of-a-kind street performances from Cuba to New York, dancing scenes at the Savoy, the Palladium and the Apollo Theater, and commentary by Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Barretto, Dexter Gordon, and Machito himself all come together to trace his music from its roots in Cuba to its impact in New York. Jon Pareles of The New York Times calls the film “hugely informative, with astonishing archival footage.”  Following the screening, a post-film discussion will be moderated by Columbia University Professor and trombonist Chris Washburne with Machito’s son, Mario Grillo, and author and historian Joe Conzo, Sr. Admission is free, but tickets are required. (See below for details.)

Family Concert: “What Made Machito & the Afro-Cubans Musical Groundbreakers?
Eight-time Grammy nominee Bobby Sanabria brings his nonet Ascensión to the Repertory Theater on Saturday, May 4, at 11 AM for a free family concert. A Bronx native who is on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music as well as the Jazz & Contemporary Music Program at the New School, Sanabria and his ensemble will delight all ages as they perform the music of the Afro-Cubans. This lively and informative performance examines how Machito fused the Cuban forms of son, bolero, and mambo with jazz. While admission to the concert is free, tickets are required.

“En Clave con Machito” Latin Rhythm Section Workshop
Following the family concert at 1:30 PM, Mario Grillo and The Machito Orchestra members lead a Rhythm Section Workshop in the Repertory Theater. They will discuss, demonstrate, and answer questions on what makes a Latin rhythm section work, demonstrating how congas, bongos, and timbales complement the bass and piano, which is now the standard in Latin music. In addition to Mario Grillo on timbales and percussion, the workshop includes Eddie Montalvo (congas), Luis Mangual, Jr. (bongos), Gilberto ‘Pulpo’ Colón (piano), and Jerry Madera, bass. The workshop is hosted by the percussionist / educator Annette A. Aguilar. All ages are welcome. Admission is free, but registration is required (See below for details).

Panel Discussion
A panel discussion entitled “Machito, Bauzá, & Graciela: Creating a Genre that Endures” follows in the Repertory Theater at 3:30 PM. Loren Schoenberg, Founder and Senior Scholar of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, moderates this discussion of the trio’s lasting impact on Latin jazz and Latin music. Panelists include: percussionist and Musical Director of The Machito Orchestra, Mario Grillo; archivist / biographer, Joe Conzo, Sr., saxophonist / composer / arranger Ray Santos; percussionist / bandleader Bobby Sanabria; author / historian René López and vocalist / educator Cita Rodríguez. Admission is free, but tickets are required. (See below for details).

Closing Concert
The Machito Orchestra performs a historic “80th Anniversary Concert” at 7:30 PM in the Main Theater, with Musical Director and Percussionist Mario Grillo leading the tribute to his father’s work. Guest vocalist, Herman Olivera, the noted sonero who, among his many achievements, has been lead vocalist for Eddie Palmieri, will take on the singer’s role. In addition to Machito hits such as “Cuban Fantasy” and “Mambo Inn,” the concert will include some rare gems. Orchestra seating is $35 and Mezzanine seating is $25; $5 for students and under 18. (see below for details)

Dance Party
The festival ends with a Mambo Dance Party in the Hostos Café immediately following the performance at approximately 9:30 PM. Warrior DJ Roy will spin Machito’s hits for dancing. Tickets are $10 and include two beverage tickets for wine or a soft drink. The Dance is available for concert ticket holders only.

Tickets can be purchased by calling (718) 518-4455 or online at All reservations and registrations for free events can be made by calling (718) 518-4455. Weekend passes for both evening concerts and the dance party can be purchased for $45 and include the best available seats. Box Office window hours are Mon. – Fri., 1 PM to 4 PM, and 2 hours prior to events.  Hostos Community College can be reached by the IRT 2, 4, 5, and busses Bx1, Bx2, Bx19 to East 149th Street and the Grand Concourse.

“Machito and the Impact of the Afro-Cubans at 80” is sponsored by the Hostos Community College Foundation with funds from: the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, The Howard Gilman Foundation, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the Office of New York State Assemblyman José Rivera, and the Office of New York City Councilmember Rafael Salamanca, Jr.

Full schedule of events for Machito and the Impact of the Afro-Cubans at 80:

Thursday, May 2                                                                                
Music/Talk: Listening Room with Joe Conzo, Sr.
Longwood Art Gallery @ Hostos, 6:00 PM
Free Admission
Opening Concert:Machito & Beyond” with Carlos Henríquez Ensemble & guest vocalist Cita Rodríguez (with percussionists José Madera, Louis Bauzo, and John “Dandy” Rodríguez)
Main Theater, 7:30 PM
Orch: $25 Mezz: $20 (Students and Under 18: $5)

Friday, May 3
Exhibit Tour:Machito and Mario: The Roots of Afro-Cuban Jazz” with Joe Conzo, Sr.
C –Atrium, 6:30 PM
Free Admission
Film:Machito: A Latin Jazz Legacy”
Panel discussion follows moderated by Chris Washburne
Repertory Theater, 7:30 PM
Free Admission (Tickets Required: 718-518-4455)

Saturday, May 4
Family Concert: “What Made Machito & the Afro-Cubans Musical Groundbreakers?”
Bobby Sanabria & Ascensión
Main Theater, 11 AM
Free Admission (Tickets Required: 718-518-4455)
Workshop:Machito en Clave” Latin Rhythm Section
Repertory Theater, 1:30 PM
Free Admission (Registration Required: 718-518-4455)
Guest Artists: Mario Grillo, Eddie Montalvo, Luis Mangual, Jr., Gilberto ‘Pulpo’ Colón, Jerry Madera; hosted by Annette A. Aguilar
Panel: “Machito, Bauzá, & Graciela: Creating a Genre that Endures”
Repertory Theater, 3:30 PM
Free Admission (Tickets Required: 718-518-4455)
Participants: Loren Schoenberg, moderator, Mario Grillo, Joe Conzo, Sr., Ray Santos, Bobby Sanabria, René López, Cita Rodríguez
Music/Talk: Listening Room with Joe Conzo, Sr.
Longwood Art Gallery @ Hostos, 6:00 PM
Free Admission                       
Closing Concert: The Machito Orchestra 80th Anniversary Concert led by Mario Grillo
Main Theater, 7:30 PM
Orch: $35 Mezz: $25 (Students and Under 18 – $5)
Dance Party: Mambo Dance Party
Hostos Café (Third floor), 9:30 PM (approx.)
$10 (includes two beverage tickets for wine/soft drink)
Limited Capacity. Concert ticket holders only.

Latin Jazz Network is a project dedicated to the advancement of Latin jazz and its creators. Since 2000 LJN has been spreading the word about this wonderful music known under the umbrella term: LATIN JAZZ.

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