Afro Latin Jazz Alliance Presents: East Meets West

The Afro Latin Jazz Alliance Presents: East Meets West
February 1 & 2 at Symphony Space

Program to Feature GRAMMY® Award-winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra Directed by Arturo O’Farrill, with Special Guest Curator and Artist John Santos

New York, New York — The Afro Latin Jazz Alliance is set to present their second concert of the 11th season showcasing the GRAMMY® Award-winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO), directed by Arturo O’Farrill. The program, titled East Meets West, will be presented at Symphony Space on Manhattan’s Upper West Side on Friday, February 1 and Saturday, February 2 at 8PM. There is a pre-performance discussion on Friday only at 7PM. Admission is $20, Students/Seniors/Children $15, Symphony Space Members $15. For tickets, go to:, call 212.864.5400, or visit the box office. For subscriptions, call or visit the box office. Symphony Space is located at 95th Street and Broadway in Manhattan.

East Meets West will explore the development of West Coast Latin jazz. “There has been an unspoken rivalry between the East and West Coast Latin jazz movements,” states O’Farrill. “This concert will hopefully broaden the understanding of these dynamic movements that have resided on opposite sides of the country.”

The “scene” California has given birth to, if not quite as old, is just as complex and profound, spawning incredible artists. To extinguish the rivalry and give heartfelt recognition to our West Coast brethren, guest artist John Santos, the founder of the acclaimed Machete Ensemble from San Francisco, will guest curate, perform, and contribute to the 7PM pre-performance discussion.

“The East Coast Latin Jazz Scene has always been positioned as the more important of the two because so many heroes associated with this music forged their careers here,” explains O’Farrill. “Being first does not mean being best or better. The eloquent and elegant master John Santos comes to show us that the West Coast has an equally important legacy of heroes and, even more importantly, is bursting at the seams with forward looking, tradition honoring, and incredible practitioners of a craft that in truth is neither West Coast, nor East Coast, it’s not even the sole property of America. It is, as Jazz is, a Pan American celebration of an African inheritance, a triumphant victory over a cataclysmic diaspora that revealed the deepest celebration of the human spirit against impossible odds and oppression.” O’Farrill and The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra humbly invite their West Coast brethren to teach them the lesson they all share, “if it swings it belongs to no one!”

For Santos, “this is an historic occasion of epic proportions. I am highly honored by Arturo’s invitation, after all, he is Latin Jazz royalty and it is rare indeed that I get an invitation to play in New York City, the Mecca of Latin Jazz. It is also the first time in my 40-year career that I have been honored by a concert of my music being played by anyone other than my own band. I cannot explain to you how thrilled I am.”

The Caribbean community, who settled in New York in the early 1940s in hopes of a better life, were largely responsible for catapulting Latin Jazz throughout the country. Chip Boaz, the Bay Area-based Editor of the noted website Latin Jazz Corner remarks, “East Coast bands like Machito and his Afro-Cubans and Tito Puente’s Orchestra defined the music’s essence. Dizzy Gillespie fused bebop with Afro-Cuban rhythms, providing a legitimate connection to the jazz community.” Cal Tjader is one notable Latin Jazz mentor who had a profound influence on the West Coast music scene. Tjader, who remains one of the most significant Latin Jazz musicians emerging from the West Coast, not only established the strength of West Coast Latin Jazz, but also helped foster the career of master percussionist Willie Bobo, a stalwart of progressing the scene. Bobo would go on to perform with artists ranging from Herbie Hancock to Carlos Santana.

ARTURO O’FARRILL, pianist, composer, educator, and founder of the nonprofit Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, was born in Mexico, grew up in New York and was educated at the Manhattan School of Music, Brooklyn College Conservatory, and the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. Mr. O’Farrill played piano with the Carla Bley Big Band from 1979 through 1983. He then went on to develop as a solo performer with a wide spectrum of artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Steve Turre, Freddy Cole, The Fort Apache Band, Lester Bowie, Wynton Marsalis, and Harry Belafonte. In 1995 Mr. O’Farrill agreed to direct the band that preserved much of his father’s music, the Chico O’Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra, which concluded a 15-year residency at Birdland. In 2002, Mr. O’Farrill created the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO) for Jazz at Lincoln Center due to a large body of music in the genre of Latin and Afro Cuban Jazz that deserves to be much more widely appreciated. To learn more about Arturo O’Farrill:

John Santos is a leading proponent of Afro-Latin music in the world today. He is known for his innovative use of traditional forms and instruments in combination with contemporary music, and has earned much respect and recognition as a record and event producer. He has performed, recorded and studied with acknowledged masters of the Afro-Latin and Jazz idioms such as Cachao, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Lazaro Ros, Armando Peraza, Eddie Palmieri, Patato Valdes, Francisco Aguabella, Orestes Vilato, Rene Lopez, Max Roach, and Chocolate Armenteros.

This experience has provided a solid foundation for Mr. Santos’ current ground-breaking work in bringing together styles, rhythms, concepts and artists from different generations. Born in San Francisco, California, November l, l955, he was raised in the Puerto Rican and Cape Verdean traditions of his family, surrounded by music. The fertile musical environment of the San Francisco Bay Area shaped his career in a unique way. His studies of Afro-Latin music have included several trips to New York, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Brazil and Colombia.

He is widely respected as one of the top writers, teachers and historians in the field and is currently a member of the Latin Jazz Advisory Committee of the Smithsonian Institution. Mr. Santos has contributed to the international magazines Percussive Notes, Modern Drummer, Modern Percussionist, and Latin Percussionist. The San Francisco Bay Area community in which he still lives and works has presented him with numerous awards and honors for artistic excellence and social dedication.

Mr. Santos is also a distinguished and creative multi-percussionist and recording artist. His diverse credits (in addition to those listed above) include: Bobby Hutcherson, Grupo Mezcla (Havana, Cuba), Lalo Schifrin, Irakere West, Santana, Yma Sumac, Linda Tillery, Cal Tjader, Danilo Perez, Ignacio Berroa, Omar Sosa, Jon Jang and Charlie Hunter. He was the director of the Orquesta Tipica Cienfuegos (l976-1980) and the Orquesta Batachanga (1981-1985). Santos currently directs the Machete Ensemble, a world-class Latin Jazz band of international renown since 1986.

The GRAMMY award winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, led by Musical Director, pianist and composer Arturo O’Farrill, is an internationally renowned performance ensemble that brings together the drama of big band jazz, the culture of Latin music, and the virtuosity of some of the world’s most accomplished musicians. Eleven critically acclaimed seasons has firmly established the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra as the standard-bearer for creative interpretation of Latin jazz greats such as Tito Puente, Machito, and Chico O’Farrill, as well as the driving force behind new commissions from Latin music’s most talented composers and arrangers. Recognized as “a remarkable New York institution” (NY Times) the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra exemplifies the best that Latin jazz culture offers: rich tradition through music and timeless appeal around the world. The Orchestra performs throughout the United States and internationally. In 2006, the Orchestra received a Grammy nomination for its debut album Una Noche Inolvidable and in 2008 won the Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Album of the Year with Song for Chico. ALJO’s third album, 40 Acres and a Burro, was a 2012 Grammy nominee for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. For a complete schedule of Orchestra performances please visit

The nonprofit 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 education programs. It provides institutional support for the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, offers instruction to young students, introduces new audiences to Afro Latin Jazz, and maintains a world-class collection of Latin Jazz musical scores and recordings. ALJA programs celebrate Latino contributions to American Jazz and explore the rich diversity of Jazz in the Americas. These programs acknowledge the past while honoring the African roots of Latin Jazz. They sustain the Latin Jazz heritage in the present day by performing the works of masters of the genre and ensure the future of Latin Jazz by commissioning and performing new works and educating young musicians and audiences in this vital cultural tradition. For more information on the Alliance, its orchestra and education programs please visit us at

The work of the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance is made possible with support from: Arnhold Foundation, Leonard Bernstein Family Foundation, BMI Foundation, Brenner Family Foundation, Bronx-Lebanon Hospital, Capital One Bank, Colgate Palmolive, D’Addario Music Foundation, GOYA, Heineken, Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Farber Foundation, New York Community Trust/Lila Acheson Wallace Fund for the Arts, Fund for the City of New York, WABC-TV, 1199/SEIU, New York State Council on the Arts- Music Program & Arts Education Program, City Council Member Gale Brewer, City Council Member Diana Reyna, New York City Council CASA Program, WBGO Jazz 88, and other generous individual donors.

For more information on the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance & Orchestra, visit:

For media information, please contact:
DL Media • 610-667-0501

Afro Latin Jazz Alliance
Nina Olson –

Web Editor
Web Editor
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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