history

Ahora, Latin/Jazz!

  

The inaugural Spring 2007 Ahora, Latin/Jazz! Series took place in the fabled Schenectady Whisperdome, 1221 Wendell Avenue, Schenectady, NY 12308, home of another Capital Region Jazz Series, A Place for Jazz. Our series was dedicated to the memory of two giants of jazz and Latin jazz whose untimely deaths took place both in 2006: Ray Barretto and Hilton Ruiz.


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Ray Barretto (1929-2006) was born in New York City of Puerto Rican parents. He was raised in Spanish Harlem and at a very age was influenced by his mother's love of music and by the music of artists such as Duke Ellington and Count Basie. In 1946, when Barretto was 17 years old, he joined the Army. It was while stationed in Germany that Barretto heard Dizzy Gillespie’s “Shaw ‘Nuff”” with Charlie Parker and “Manteca” with Cuban percussionist, Chano Pozo and realized his true calling in life. Back at home he started to visit clubs, playing in jam sessions to perfect his conga playing. On one occasion Charlie Parker heard Barretto play and invited him to sit in with his band. While playing for José Curbelo he was invited to play with Tito Puente and recorded with Puente the famed Dance Mania sessions in 1957. Barretto was the most sought-out conga player by Jazz musicians and recorded with dozens of them over his lifetime including Lou Donaldson, Red Garland, Art Blakey, Herbie Mann and many, many others.  In 1961 he jumped onto the Charanga bandwagon as a band leader and in 1967 he signed up with Fania, acquiring the Hard Hands sobriquet after his second recording with the company and cementing his status as a Salsa icon with dozens of albums and numerous hits. In 1973 he ventured into jazz territory as a bandleader with The Other Road (Fania SLP 00448) and from 1991 to 2005 he recorded ten (Latin) jazz albums. Barretto won a grammy in 1990 for the salsa album Ritmo en el Corazón (Fania JM651), was nominated for a Grammy for his penultimate recording Time Was, Time Is (O+Music 109, 2004), and shortly before his passing was granted NEA’s Jazz Master Award in 2005. 


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Puerto Rican Jazz pianist Hilton Ruiz (1952-2006) was a musician of uncommon versatility, shuttling seamlessly between the complex improvisations of the avant-garde and the relentless rhythms of Afro-Cuban music. Born in New York City, Ruiz was a child prodigy who performed at Carnegie Recital Hall at age eight. In addition to classical studies,he explored jazz under the tutelage of the legendary Mary Lou Williams. His remarkable improvisational gifts cemented his decision to pursue a career in jazz. He backed everyone from Freddie Hubbard to Joe Henderson and was prominent as a bandleader as well, with numerous recordings spanning a 30-year-plus career. Just before his tragic and untimely death he recorded with Ray Barretto in Standards Rican-ditioned (Zoho zm 200610, 2006) and with Chembo Corniel and Andrea Brachfeld in Beyond Standards (CAP 000, 2006).


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The 2009 Salon Series consisted of several presentations of Latin jazz performances on video. These included historical and contemporary footage of leading Latin jazz performers from Chano Pozo and Machito and the Afrocubans to Grammy-nominated Bobby Sanabria, Thelonius Monk Award-winner Pedrito Martinez, and Grammy-winner Brian Lynch. They took place on:


Tuesday, January 13, 2009, 7:30 pm - McChesney Room, Schenectady County Public Library, 99 Clinton Street, Schenectady, NY 12305.


Thursday, January 22, 2009, 7:30 pm - Normanskill Room, Guilderland Public Library, 2228 Western Avenue, Guilderland, NY 12084.


Thursday, January 29 and Friday, January 30, 2009, 7:30 pm - Troy Cinema & Visual Arts Group, 3 Broadway, Troy, NY 12180.


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Ahora, Latin/Jazz! - Special Edition - Albany Latin Fest, August 29, 2009 at 12:00 noon featuring Wilson “Chembo” Corniel & Grupo Chaworó.


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The 2011 season of Ahora, Latin/Jazz! moved permanently from the Whisperdome to the Emerson Auditorium in Union College's Taylor Music Center. This season marks the beginning of Jazz/Latino's partnership with Union College's music department, coordinated by Professor Tim Olsen, a Jazz/Latino Board member. 


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Ahora, Latin/Jazz! - Special Edition - Video Highlights of the 2012 Season. July 10, 2012 - 7 pm, Pine Hills Public Library, 517 Western Avenue Albany, NY 12203. This video documentary featured selections from the live performances by the Steven Kroon Sextet and the piano concert by Rebecca Cline & Nicki Denner playing the Caribbean side of Thelonious Monk.


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Ahora, Latin/Jazz! - Special Edition - in collaboration with the EGG: Habana Sax! - October 17, 2014 7:30 pm @ The Egg.


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The series was in recess during 2016 and resumed in 2017 with a new edition of Rebecca Cline and Nicki Denner's duo performance, this time in celebration of Charlie Palmieri's 90th anniversary. In 2018, we began a new venture, a recording project with Spanish bassist Javier Colina and Cuban pianist Pepe Rivero which resulted in the CD El Pañuelo de Pepa, a collection of XIX Century and contemporary compositions arranged in the Latin jazz style. The CD was recorded in January 2019 in Madrid, Spain, and released worldwide in March 2019.

Rebecca Cline, José E. Cruz, and Nicki Denner, Ahora, Latin/Jazz, 2017.

Rebecca Cline, José E. Cruz, and Nicki Denner, Ahora, Latin/Jazz, 2017.