BLITZ Buzz Launch

  • By Development Team
  • 21 Mar, 2017

Arturo O’Farrill & Casita Maria Launch BLITZ Buzz

March 21, 2017

"Provocative New Approaches to Increasing Jazz Audiences in The Bronx"

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 Artsand  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.


By Penelope Ramirez, Program Coordinator 12 Jan, 2018

The SmART Leaders program is a year long after school program for high-school aged young people who identify as young women of color. Casita Maria is dedicated to building positive self-esteem and sisterhood among all young women who participate in the program. We specifically focus on sisterhood, rediscovering our identities, and social justice education; the best part is that we do all of this through art-centered classes and workshops! 

Whether you are interested in painting, photography, dancing, making music, or other art-based activities we will provide you with the space to discuss topics that you are interested in learning about through artistic conversations and activities. Ultimately we are dedicated to supporting young women as they build sisterhood, find their power, and discover their activism. Our application is  currently open on a rolling admission. We encourage community members, who meet the program criteria, to apply today and join us as we work to empower the young women of The Bronx! 

Apply below: 

Apply here with your mobile device.

By Luis Pagan 05 Jan, 2018
Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education invites you to participate in a FREE storytelling workshop starting March 2018.

Over the course of 3 workshops (4 hours per workshop), participants will explore the principles of personal narrative, reflect on life experiences through a series of prompts, identify one personal story they wish to tell, and craft a five-minute version with the help of Moth instructors and each other. Each workshop opens with trust building games to develop a supportive space. Participants do not need to have a story identified before the workshop begins. At the end of the workshop, everyone will have an opportunity to tell their stories in front of a small, invited audience, without notes. We consider sharing our stories to be an act of bravery and generosity; listening to others is an act of empathy and kindness. The workshop will be offered free of charge to a group of between 9 and 15 adult participants.

About The Moth:
The Moth is an acclaimed nonprofit that works to promote the art and craft of storytelling and to honor the diversity and commonality of human experience. Through its ongoing programs, The Moth has presented over 23,000 stories to standing-room-only crowds worldwide and currently produces more than 500 live shows each year. The Moth podcast is downloaded over 44 million times a year, and each week, the Peabody Award-winning The Moth Radio Hour is heard on over 450 radio stations worldwide.

Deadline to apply, February 9th: 
Apply here with your mobile device.
By Gail Heidel, Associate Director of Creative Arts Programs 02 Jan, 2018

¡Si Se Puede! / Yes You Can!
An Exhibition Honoring Women of Color Leaders, Mentors and Agents of Change


Warrior Women: Mujeres Guerreras
Casita Maria Youth Exhibition

Opening in the Casita Maria Galleries on January 24, 2018

By Development Office 27 Nov, 2017

Children at the Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education are bowing, stomping and vocalizing…and some are even pressing.  All that is music talk for playing the violin, dancing, singing and piano playing.  Casita Maria is music, arts and so much more.  We are building tomorrow’s leaders. When a child enters Casita’s doors they are coached, nurtured and supported.  They are taught self-reliance and responsibility, all while learning the joy of music.

This is what you make possible every time you donate to our programs.  Today, on #Giving Tuesday, share your joy of music with the children of the South Bronx and East Harlem and watch us create the leaders of the future.

Entering its sixth year, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. Since its inaugural year in 2012, #GivingTuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy.

By Luis Pagan 09 Nov, 2017
Casita Maria and Arturo O'Farrill invite you to:

Urban Health Plan
1065 Southern Blvd.
Bronx, NY

Join us Saturday, December 9, 2017, 4 PM and listen to Latin Jazz fused with a Hip-Hop Pioneer.
FREE & open to the public!

Grandmaster Caz (Curtis Brown)

A Bronx-born, award-winning MC and DJ who has been an acknowledged leader in both forms since the 1970s when he formed the Mighty Force and later joined The Cold Crush Brothers. Caz was inducted into the Technics DJ Hall of Fame and the Bronx Walk of Fame, a street plaque bearing his name is now on permanent display on the Grand Concourse. Caz currently serves as a Board member of the Bronx Music Heritage Center, Windows of Hip Hop and The Universal Federation for the Preservation of Hip Hop Culture.

By Haydee Morales, Executive Director 27 Sep, 2017

Casita Maria (The Little House of Mary) was founded in 1934 to help Puerto Ricans in East Harlem. It is the first and oldest Latino charity.  That mission continues today as we stand in support of Puerto Ricans following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and as we extend our hands and hearts to our sister islands in the Caribbean and to Mexico following the earthquake.  

Please give generously to relief efforts established via national and community organizations that can get the relief to the people who need it the most.

Locally, supplies needed for the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico can be dropped off at Mothers on the Move, 928 Intervale Avenue, at one of eleven centers at Urban Health Plan or Hispanic Federation .  

Casita Maria will be convening with partner organizations for a coordinated and sustained effort moving forward as Puerto Rico will require long-term assistance to address the devastation ahead.  

Water, power, fuel, food and life-saving supplies must reach them fast. We stand in solidarity with elected officials who are advocating swiftly and strongly in this matter.  We ask for your help.

We will continue to keep you posted about how, as a community, we can help moving forward and we thank you in advance for your generosity.

Arriba corazones!

Casita María (La Pequeña Casa de María) fue fundada en 1934 para ayudar a los puertorriqueños en El Barrio. Es la primera y más antigua organización en benéfica de los  latinos. Esa misión continúa hoy cuando apoyamos a los puertorriqueños después de los huracanes Irma y María, y extendemos nuestras manos y corazones a nuestras hermanas islas en el Caribe y a México después del terremoto.

Por favor dé generosamente a los esfuerzos de ayuda establecidos a través de las organizaciones nacionales y comunitarias que pueden obtener el alivio a las personas que más lo necesitan.

Localmente, los suministros necesarios para la crisis humanitaria en Puerto Rico, pueden ser dejados en Mothers on the Move, 928 Avenida Intervale, en uno de los once centros del Urban Health Plan o la Federación Hispana.

Casita María se reunirá con las organizaciones asociadas para un esfuerzo coordinado y sostenido, ya que Puerto Rico requerirá asistencia a largo plazo para enfrentar la devastación que se avecina.

Los suministros de agua, electricidad, combustible, alimentos y salud deben alcanzarlos rápidamente. Estamos en solidaridad con los funcionarios electos que están abogando con rapidez y firmeza en este asunto. Pedimos su ayuda.

Continuaremos manteniéndole informado sobre cómo, en comunidad, podemos ayudar a avanzar y le agradecemos de antemano por su generosidad.

Arriba corazones!

By Luis Pagan 14 Sep, 2017
Casita Maria and Arturo O'Farrill invite you to:

New York Auto Glass
1019 Garrison Ave.
Bronx, NY

Join us Saturday, October 14, 2017, 7 PM and listen to Latin Jazz fused with the sounds of unique glass instruments.
FREE & open to the public!

Gabrielle Garo

A student of the flute, piccolo, alto, tenor, and soprano saxophone. Achievements include: 2015 International Women in Jazz Youth in Action award, 2016 J. Marjory Jackson Scholarship, the solo award in the Jazz at Lincoln Center Essentially Ellington Regional Festival, the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation Tuition Assistance Award, and the A.F.J Leonard Silver Award. She has performed with music greats Arturo Sandoval, Candido Camero, Phoenix Rivera, Bobby Sanabria, Kermit Ruffins, Bertha Hope, among others. Garo is a graduate of LaGuardia High School and is now studying at The New School for Jazz & Contemporary Music in New York City.

Miguel Frasconi

A composer and improviser specializing in the relationship between acoustic objects and musical form. His instrumentarium includes glass objects, electronics, laptop, and constructions of his own design. Frasconi’s unique glass instruments are struck, blown, stroked, smashed and otherwise coaxed into vibration. As a composer, his works include chamber music, operas, film and dance scores. Frasconi has worked closely with composers John Cage, Jon Hassell, James Tenney, and Morton Subotnick. He is a founding member of The Glass Orchestra, featuring all glass instruments and the San Francisco sound-sculpture band Möbius Operandi. He is presently a member of Ne(x)works.

By Gail Heidel, Associate Director of Creative Arts Programs 12 Sep, 2017
September 12, 2017
By Luis Pagan 09 Aug, 2017
Casita Maria and Arturo O'Farrill invite you to:

4th Annual Music on Southern Blvd. Festival
Southern Blvd and 163rd St
Bronx, NY

Join us Saturday, September 9, 2017, 12:30 PM and listen to Latin Jazz with guest musician from Cuba, Albertico Lescay.
FREE & open to the public!

Albertico Lescay

Is a Composer, Arranger, Trumpeter, Keyboardist, Pianist and Vocalist from Santiago de Cuba and currently living in Havana. Lescay graduated in 1998 from the National School of Art (ENA), City of Havana, Cuba. He is one of the pioneers of the Nu-Jazz and directs the Iris Jazz Club of Santiago de Cuba in Cuba. As a composer, he fuses different musical genres and manifestations of art like dance, Video, and visual art with Jazz. Some of his work has been included on soundtracks of various documentaries. He has performed in numerous concerts in venues in Cuba, Mexico, and France.

By Luis Pagan 03 Jul, 2017
Casita Maria and Arturo O'Farrill invite you to:

St. Athanasius Courtyard
878 Tiffany St.
Bronx, NY

Join us Tuesday, August 1, 2017, 2 PM and listen to Latin Jazz fused withprop choreography with dance.
FREE & open to the public!

Enchanted Troupe
Opens a portal to a dream dimension where glowing, otherworldly creatures, towering stilt walkers, and fiery femmes fatales play out a seductive, spellbinding spectacle. Specializing in a fusion of intricate prop choreography with dance, this troupe of dancers and multi-prop artists creates nouveau cirque magic with incandescent energy and open-hearted passion.
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