BLITZ with Arturo O'Farrill

Arturo O’Farrill and Casita Maria Center For Arts & Education are proud to present BLITZ, a Bronx-based latin jazz ensemble. 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. 
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 events are open to the public and suitable for all ages. 
Press Release

Schedule of Events

Interviews with: 

Arturo O’Farrill & Baba Israel
Tues, Jan. 17, 2017, 7 PM
Twins Gourmet Bodega, 1006 E. 163rd Street Bronx, NY 10459
Will Calhoun & Libaña Maraza with The Legacy Women
Wed, Feb. 22, 2017, 7 PM
Atlixco Unisex Barber Shop, 837 Intervale Ave. Bronx, NY 10459
Alejandro Avilés, Bam Bam Rodríguez & The Mariachi Academy of New York
Mon, Mar. 13, 2017, 7 PM
Tuff City Tattoos 650 East Fordham Rd. Bronx, NY

Ensemble Artist Collaborate

Arturo O'Farrill

A world-renowned, multi-Grammy- award winning Latin Jazz pianist, composer, orchestra leader and educator. He was born in Mexico and grew up in New York City, educated at the Manhattan School of Music, Brooklyn College Conservatory (from which he received the Distinguished Alumnus Medal), and the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. 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.

Will Calhoun

A multi-Grammy award winning drummer, composer and producer from the legendary rock band Living Colour. He has composed, produced and toured with Wayne Shorter, Pharoah Sanders, The Rolling Stones, Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def, Lauryn Hill, Marcus Miller, Herb Alpert, Mike Stern, Public Enemy, and many more. Calhoun is an Ethnomusicologist, combining his ancestral research with years of commercial success in jazz, rock, urban, alternative, ambient, and other world music. He recently broadened his artistic expression to include film scores, photography and multimedia projects. Calhoun also just released a new Jazz recording “Celebrating Elvin Jones” on Motema Music.

Photo Credit: Bill Bernstein

Bam Bam Rodriguez

A self-taught guitar and bass player born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. He has toured with the world famous El Sistema Youth Orchestras and played with Gustavo Dudamel, Bert Joris, Fabrice Alleman, Nathalie Loriers, Gerardo Rosales’ Afro-Cuban Quintet, and Michael Simon’s group Asian Journey. Rodríguez holds BA and MA degrees in Music (Belgium) and a second MA in Jazz and World Music from Conservatorium Van Amsterdam (Netherlands). Rodríguez is co-founder of the bands R.A.M. (Rodríguez, Aksunger, Milea) Mulix, and duo project with Hungarian vocalist Artemisz Polonyi called “Light at Both Ends of the Tunnel.”

Photo Credit: Argenis Apolinario

Alejandro Aviles

A first generation Cuban-American who comes from a long lineage of musicians. Mr. Avilés' family has been considered by the Guinness Book of World Records for having the longest, continuous musical group in the world. The Orquesta Hermanos Avilés was started by his great-grandfather, Manuel Avilés, in 1882 in Holguin, Cuba, and is still in existence today. Based in NYC, Alejandro Avilés works as an adjunct professor at both Hofstra University and Hunter College teaching saxophone and jazz improvisation while performing as a versatile musician in genres ranging from "Straight Ahead" jazz, “Brazilian” and "Afro-Cuban" music, to Broadway.

Photo Credit: Ana Paula Dan

Lucianna Padmore

A Bronx native and drummer. She is featured with artists across multiple genres including jazz, hip-hop, funk, rock pop and fusion genres. An alumnus of the noted LaGuardia High School for Music and the Performing Arts and the New School University, she has received awards from Jazz at Lincoln Center and BMI and she was a featured drummer in Mary Lou Williams’ Women in Jazz Festival. Lucianna’s current live and studio projects include a residency at Red Rooster Harlem with the Rakiem Walker Project, Primordial Jazz Funktet, Bertha Hope’s Jazzberry Jam, the genre-busting Stratospheerius, as well as leading her own quartet.

Photo Credit: Argenis Apolinario

Kali Rodriguez-Pena

A trumpet player and composer born and raised in Havana, Cuba. He has played with musicians such as Wynton Marsalis, Arturo O’Farrill, Paquito D’Rivera, Chucho Valdés, Anat Cohen, Bobby Sanabria, Cándido Camero, and Bobby Carcasses. While living in Havana, he won top prizes at the annual Jojazz contest for “Improvisation and Best Small Combo.” A graduate of the Amadeo Roldan Conservatory in Cuba, he is furthering his studies at Manhattan School of Music, where he was awarded a full scholarship for Jazz Performance. Rodríguez-Peña’s style blends traditional Cuban sounds with influences from Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard and Wayne Shorter.

Photo Credit: Argenis Apolinario

Artist Collaborators

Baron Ambrosia

A filmmaker, explorer and the Bronx’s Cultural Ambassador. Whether swimming the Bronx River, holding wild dinner parties, helping to produce Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown on CNN or Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel, the Baron enjoys nothing more than bringing together the borough’s diverse faces to the same table. Baron writes and produces for National Geographic and is also a New York Emmy Award Winner for self-written series Underbelly, Bronx Flavor, and Culinary Adventures where he channels his mischievous spirit to showcase mom & pop ethnic eateries.

Photo Credit: Kim Fornal


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.

Photo Credit: Tyler Howland

Helga Davis

Starring in the 25th anniversary re-staging of Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’s seminal work Einstein on the Beach. In addition to her work with Wilson, Helga is both protagonist and muse for artists such as: Peter Greenaway, Hilton Als, Shara Nova, Courtney Bryan, and Toshi Reagon, all of whom have written works for her unique voice. Current projects include Requiem for a Tuesday with bass-baritone Davóne Tines and DROWN, a collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Yuka Honda. Davis is also the 2016-17 artist in residence at National Sawdust and is the host of a new podcast, HELGA, on Q2 music.

Photo Credit: Michal Hančovský

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.

Photo Credit: Marty Sohl

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.

Photo Credit: David Garten

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 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.

Photo Credit: Joe Conzo Jr.

Baba Israel

An artist, producer, educator and consultant raised in New York. He co-founded Playback NYC, the first playback theater company to integrate freestyle Hip Hop. His debut solo show Boom Bap Meditations was supported by the Ford Foundation and the Hip Hop Theatre Festival. Israel is currently touring his multimedia performance The Spinning Wheel. He is a core member of Hip Hop/Soul project Soul Inscribed who recently completed the American Music Abroad program. He holds an M.F.A. in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College and is the Co-Artistic Director of the Performance Project based at the University Settlement.

Photo Credit: Joel Chester Fildes

Legacy Women

Founded by award winning songwriter and activist Manuela Arciniegas, is an all women's drum, song and dance troupe that plays Afro Dominican and Afro Puerto Rican bomba and palos music with an urban twist. The troupe enraptures audience imaginations with their fiery and poignant vocals and pulsing drums. Possessing the feminine power that unleashes a feeling of community exhilaration, their original and traditional songs pay tribute to the daily struggles and escapades of Caribbean urban women. Their sultrily booming vocals, precision drumming and expressive dances encourage everyone to learn history and stories of the heart.

Photo Credit: Elena Mamarrazzi Marrero

Libaña Maraza

Consists of the Nuñez brothers Celso, Delmo, Julio, and Chester, who are percussionists and singers from Honduras, along with other percussionists. The name means “Grandchildren of Maraza” — they are the grandchildren of Marselino, one of the great paranda singers in the Garifuna tradition. In 2012, they performed with James Lovell and other Garifuna musicians at the Smithsonian Institution’s Folklife Festival called, “One World, Many Voices: Endangered Language and Cultural Heritage.” Their new CD is “Huweirigu Lun Maraza.”

Mariachi Academy of New York

Opened in 2002 as an after school program for youth of all races and ethnic backgrounds ages 4-17. It is the first school in the East Coast dedicated to educating youth in the rich Mexican Mariachi tradition. In addition to learning to play a musical instrument and to sing classic rancheras and ballads, students develop a strong sense of identity and pride. The program inspires students to become involved with their peers in a situation where they can learn to be responsible to others, set a goal, and work toward its completion.

Photo Credit: Fiamma Piacentini

Liza Jessie Peterson

An actress, poet, playwright, educator and advocate. Liza has written several plays including her most recent one woman play The Peculiar Patriot, which embarked on a national prison tour where she performed in over 35 jails and penitentiaries across the country. She recently performed The Peculiar Patriot, opening for Angela Davis, at Columbia University’s conference on mass incarceration. Also known for her poetic skills, Liza began her poetry career at the Nuyorican Poets Café in the mid-90’s and was a vital member of the enclave of notable poets who were part of the “underground slam poetry/spoken word” movement.

Photo Credit: Ani Berberian

Memo Soto

Born in Mexico and has lived in The Bronx for 25 years. Soto is a master barber and owner of Atlixco Unisex Barber Shop. He learned to cut hair from fellow barbers and opened his own store in 1997. The first location was on Baretto and Southern Boulevard and in 2015 he moved to his current location at 837 Intervale. Soto’s secret to success is great customer service and conversation, which has led to a long list of loyal customers.

The South Bronx Starlights

A diverse group of University Heights High School scholars. In the spring of 2016, the South Bronx Campus was awarded a Double Dutch Team by the Public School Athletic League (PSAL). In its inaugural season, the Starlights competed and their efforts and commitment were rewarded with an invitation to compete in the 2016 Double Dutch Championships. They were recognized as the up and coming Double Dutch team to watch. Under the leadership of Stephon Webb, the South Bronx Starlights have their sights set to become not only the Bronx Borough champions but the PSAL Double Dutch Champions.

Photo Credit: Erick Jenkins

Philip Sheridan

keeping tradition alive.

Photo Credit: Argenis Apolinario
Photo credit: Argenis Apolinario
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