Arturo O’Farrill andCasita Maria Center for Arts & Education are proud to present BLITZ, a new Bronx-based Latin Jazz ensemble. They will be premiering original music inspired by local Bronxites and performing along with interdisciplinary artist collaborators in nontraditional venues throughout the South Bronx.
BLITZ Ensemble Musicians:
Bam Bam Rodríguez
This cultural initiative and free concerts are made possible by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and are open to the public and for all ages.
Download full press release HERE
Arturo O’Farrill and Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education are proud to present BLITZ, a new Bronx-based Latin Jazz ensemble. They will be premiering original music inspired by local Bronxites and performing along with interdisciplinary artist collaborators in nontraditional venues throughout the South Bronx.
The musicians that form BLITZ are ARTURO O’FARRILL, WILL CALHOUN, BAM BAM RODRÍGUEZ, ALEJANDRO AVILÉS and KALI RODRÍGUEZ-PEÑA. These free concerts are part of the Building Demands for the Arts initiative and made possible by the Doris Duke Charitable
Foundation. All events are open to the public and suitable for all ages.
Created by multi-Grammy award-winning, pianist, composer and bandleader Arturo O’Farrill, Blitz is a form of “guerrilla Jazz.” Its mission is to breakdown the traditional boundaries, stereotypes and preconceived notions around Jazz in order to promote its growth as a genre and ability to reach new audiences.
For O’Farrill, The Bronx’s long history of musical innovation within Afro-Cuban Latin Jazz, Hip Hop and Salsa made the borough the ideal place to develop something radical and experimental. To accomplish this goal, he partnered with Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education, an 80 year-old organization deeply rooted in arts and culture within the South Bronx community. Like its name, “Blitz,” (an acronym for “Bronx Latin Jazz”), the project represents a sudden and surprising convergence of eclectic yet recognizable sights and sounds in unexpectedly familiar places. Accessibility, diversity and inclusion are the underlying values throughout all aspects of the project– from the formation of the ensemble and the original compositions to the artist collaborations and venues.
For the new ensemble, O’Farrill reached out to two Bronx musicians as its co-bandleaders: Grammy award-winning drummer and master of cross-genre composing, Will Calhoun and the widely-acclaimed bassist Bam Bam Rodríguez along with internationally renown saxophonist Alejandro Avilés and the young prodigy trumpeter Kali Rodríguez Pena to complete Blitz. In order to ensure that the music would accurately represent The Bronx, five Bronxites were chosen to share their stories as the inspiration for the music. These include the political and social activists, Bob Sancho, Dr. Hetty Fox and Annie Mae Calhoun as well as music legends Andy González and Benny Bonilla.
Under the guidance of oral historian Corianna Moffatt, each Blitz musician interviewed one of the selected Bronx residents to hear their life stories. The interviewees shared the sights, sounds and even smells that form their memories and perception of The Bronx. Based on this information, the ensemble members individually composed a new piece of music that will be premiered at each of the three upcoming Blitz concerts.
The performances will all occur in local South Bronx organizations and businesses such as El Maestro Boxing Gym and Cultural Center and The Longwood Laundromat as well as open public spaces like the Monsignor Raul Del Valle Square at the Hunts Point 6 Train. No tickets, RSVP’s or even advanced notifications are needed. Inspired by the origins of Afro Latin Jazz, the music takes place in the spaces of daily life, work and common rituals. It is wherever you are.
Blitz also incorporates interdisciplinary influences and artists from a broad range of visual and performing art practices as collaborators. The first three performances will include the W.A.F.F.L.E NYC Hip Hop dancers, who are famous (and infamous) for performing original, expansive choreography within the extremely restrictive MTA subway cars; multimedia artist Qiuyi Wu who creates colorful, dynamic projections that interactively respond to the surrounding environment; Milteri Tucker, a master of Puerto Rican and African Diaspora traditional dances; THE POINT’s Cirque du Monde, comprised of young Bronx acrobats and jugglers taught by Cirque du Soleil’s social education program; The South Bronx King Baton Twirl Team and teaching artist Lucy Aponte with a kite flying workshop for all ages.