Blitz & Blitz Buzz Launch

March 21, 2017


Arturo O’Farrill & Casita Maria Launch BLITZ & BLITZ Buzz

Provocative New Approaches to Increasing Jazz Audiences in The Bronx

BRONX, NY – (March 2017) ARTURO O’FARRILL and CASITA MARIA CENTER FOR ARTS & EDUCATION are proud to present BLITZ, a new Bronx-based latin jazz ensemble. 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. 

Premiering original music inspired by local Bronxites, the musicians: Arturo O'Farrill (piano), Will Calhoun (percussion), Bam Bam Rodríguez (bass), Alejandro Avilés (saxophone), Kalí Rodríguez-Peña (trumpet), and Lucianna Padmore (drums) will be performing with interdisciplinary artist collaborators including Baba Israel (beat-boxing), Liza Jessie Peterson (spoken word), Libaña Maraza (Garifuna punta), Mariachi Academy of New York, Baron Ambrosia (chef and “Cultural Ambassador” for The Bronx), Helga Davis (opera-fusion vocalist), and Legacy Women (Afro-Caribbean palos / salves) in nontraditional venues throughout the South Bronx such as a bodega, carwash and tattoo parlor. 

BLITZ is completely FREE – that means 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, and work.

These free concerts are part of the Building Demands for the Arts initiative and made possible by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with additional support from The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts and New York City Department of Cultural affairs. All eventsare open to the public and suitable for all ages. 

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 renowned saxophonist Alejandro Avilés, multi genre drummer Lucianna Padmore and the young prodigy trumpeter Kalí Rodríguez Pena to complete Blitz. 

In order to ensure that the music would accurately represent The Bronx, BLITZ’s original compositions are based on intergenerational, local Bronxites who have shared their stories as the inspiration for the music. These include the political and social activists, Bob Sancho, Dr. Hetty Fox and Annie Mae Calhoun, music legends Andy González and Benny Bonilla as well as teen Casita musicians Kneeco Hanson and Gabby Mendez

To promote BLITZ, O’Farrill and Casita Maria will be partnering with BronxNet to produce BLITZ Buzz, a series of online webisodes. BLITZ Buzz will feature interviews by Casita youth of each BLITZ ensemble member and one of the collaborating artists. Unscripted and fun – anything can happen during BLITZ Buzz! Impromptu jazz fusion, uncensored, real conversations and perhaps a spontaneous dish of arroz con habicuelas or an even an improv haircut or tattoo. 

For more information and details contact Luis Pagan, Marketing & Media Manager at Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education or visit Casita Maria’s website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @casitamariabx 

“Blitz, Casita Maria and the Doris Duke Charitable Trust are allowing me to do what I've
dreamt of for many years. Bringing jazz to people where they live, with community musicians, making it relevant to the lives they live. Whilst it's okay to have expensive wood-paneled corporate jazz, if you want to impact people’s lives you need to enter their world, with love and respect for their intellect and their aesthetic." 
– Arturo O’Farrill

CASITA MARIA CENTER FOR ARTS & EDUCATION is an 80-year old Bronx-based community arts and educational organization that presents diverse, contemporary visual and performing arts and education programming for all ages.

ARTURO O’FARRILL is a world-renowned, multi-Grammy-award winning latin jazz pianist, composer, orchestra leader and educator. He is the founder and leader of The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO). He is also the founder of the nonprofit Afro Latin Jazz Alliance (ALJA) whose mission is to promote Afro Latin Jazz through a comprehensive array of performance and educational programs.

For full-length bios of all BLITZ artists and collaborators, please visit

BLITZ was made possible by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with additional support from the New York State Council on the Arts, The Shelly & Donald Rubin Foundation and The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.  BLITZ Buzz and all filming for BLITZ is made possible thanks to BronxNet.