Artist Profile: César Orozco

César Orozco – Photo by Michael G. Stewart

“César Orozco manages to make the best combination between Cuban, Jazz and Venezuelan music I ever heard”. Paquito D’Rivera

César Orozco is a prolific Cuban/Venezuelan pianist, violinist, composer, arranger, producer, and educator. After developing an important career in Venezuela, Mr. Orozco moved to the United States in 2012 and enrolled with a full tuition Assistantship to The Peabody Institute of John Hopkins University in Baltimore, where he earned a Graduate Performance Diploma (GPD) in 2014. Since relocating to the New York tri-state area in 2015, Mr. Orozco has become an in-demand pianist as a sideman as well as a leader of his own projects. Some of the artists he has worked with include Paquito D’Rivera, Pedrito Martinez, Gary Thomas, Yosvany Terry, Flavio Sala, Luisito Quintero, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Luis Enrique, Itai Kriss, Troy Roberts, Paul Bollenback, Jeremy Warren, and Giovanni Hidalgo just to name a few. Orozco has developed an innovative approach to a fusion of Venezuelan and Cuban traditional music with Jazz along with his project Kamarata Jazz. He has appeared in more than 70 albums and his recordings as a leader include “Son con Pajarillo” (2007), “Ebano y Marfil” (2008), “Orozcojam” (Guataca, 2010), which was awarded for Best vocal/Instrumental album at Cubadisco 2012 in Havana, Cuba, “No Limits for Tumbao” (Alfi Records, 2015) and the latest one “Stringwise”, a duo with the outstanding Venezuelan Cuatro player Jorge Glem. He is also a recipient of a DownBeat Magazine’s 2014 Student Music Award for Original Composition (Orozcojam) Small Ensemble Outstanding Performance.

Throughout his career, Orozco has toured extensively across the United States, Europe, Latin America and Australia, participating in some of the most renowned music festivals around the world such as the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, the Cervantino Festival in Mexico, and the Jazz al Parque in Bogota, Colombia. As a bandleader, he has performed at venues such as Blues Alley, Twins Jazz, and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Bolivar Hall in London, the Bird’s Basement Jazz Club in Melbourne, Australia, the Bimhuis Jazz Club in Amsterdam, Subrosa, The Zinc Bar, Terraza 7, and the Fat Cat in New York City among others.

Mr. Orozco has written music for a wide range of ensembles and instrumentations, including but not limited to symphony orchestras, big bands, salsa combos, string quartets, string quintets, and brass quintets. He has been commissioned by the Baltimore School for the Arts, the Army Blues Band in Washington DC, the Chamber String Orchestra from the MCYO organization at Strathmore in Maryland, The Netherlands Blazers Ensemble (NBE), RaícesJazz Orchestra from Miami FL, The Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, and the HR-Big Band, also named Frankfurt Radio Big Band. Within the musical theater field, his credits as a composer, music director, and/or arranger include the Venezuelan musicals “Orinoco” and “Venezuela Viva” (with more than 100 international performances), the autobiographical monologue “Las Ciudades Que Soy” starred and written by the recognized Cuban actress Beatriz Valdez, and “La UltimaPartida” (The Final Draw), a play with live improvised Jazz piano directed by Monica Lopez-Gonzalez which was premiered at the Baltimore Theater Project in 2014.

Orozco was born in Cuba in 1980 and earned a degree in Violin Performance and Ensemble Conducting from the National School of Arts in Havana, Cuba in 1998. The same year, he traveled to Venezuela after accepting an invitation from the Carabobo Symphony Orchestra as a violinist. In Venezuela, Mr. Orozco performed and/or recorded with some of the most important local artists, including Guaco, Rafael “El Pollo” Brito, Andres Briceño, Maria Teresa Chacín, Soledad Bravo, Kiara, Karina, Frank Quintero, Aquiles Báez, Ilan Chester, Orlando Poleo, Gerardo Rosales, Alfredo Naranjo, Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, Carabobo Symphony Orchestra, Pablo Gil, Simón Díaz and flautist Huáscar Barradas among many others. He also served as a Professor of Jazz Piano, Harmony, and Ensembles for more than three years at the National Experimental University of the Arts in Caracas.

Besides having a very busy performing career, Mr. Orozco is currently an active clinician and educator. He has taught lectures and master classes at some of the most prestigious institutions in the United States such as the Baltimore School for the Arts, Loyola University (Baltimore, MD), Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA), Salem State University, (Boston, MA), and the “New York Arts Program” (NY). He also has his private studio in River Edge, NJ and is faculty at Corlears School in Manhattan, NY.

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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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