Thursday, October 18, 2007

Cuban jazz greats to burn up Murfreesboro, Nashville stages Thursday and Friday

Dalia Garcia, Richie Flores, Jesus Diaz, Lalo Davila, Glen Caruba, Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez

MTSU tonight

"Cuban Fire" tomorrow: joint performance with Nashville Jazz Orchestra at Vanderbilt

Eric Moreno, president of the Hispanic Student Association at MTSU, wrote in to mention "several events going on involving a Salsa Band headed up by MTSU's own Lalo Davila, [in] which he is featuring very famous percussionists who have played with several amazing acts throughout the Latin music industry. He will be hosting a tribute to Celia Cruz and Tito Puente in a concert in Murfreesboro." The music comes to Murfreesboro tonight and to Nashville tomorrow night.

The MTSU tribute is tonight, Thursday October 18, at 9pm at Sweetwater. There is a $7 cover charge and no one under 21 will be admitted.

Details of the Nashville event are below:

The Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University will host "CUBAN FIRE", a night of explosive salsa and jazz by the NASHVILLE JAZZ ORCHESTRA in the Martha Rivers Ingram Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, Oct. 19, 2007, at 7:30pm and 9:30pm. Both concerts will feature the classic Latin jazz music of Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Arturo Sandoval, and others climaxed by selections from Stan Kenton's famous 1956 Latin jazz opus "Cuban Fire Suite". A special 27-piece edition of the NJO, led by Director JIM WILLIAMSON will take the stage, including vocals by DALIA GARCIA, and guest percussionists Pearl Recording Artists RICHIE FLORES, JESUS DIAZ, LALO DAVILA, GLEN CARUBA, and HORACIO “EL NEGRO” HERNANDEZ, acknowledged as the top Latin drumset player in the world today. With NJO drummer Bob Mater also being a Pearl Recording Artist, the NJO will have an all-Pearl percussion section, and Pearl Drums USA will be a co-sponsor for this event. Guest conductor for the "Cuban Fire Suite" will be ROBIN P. FOUNTAIN, Professor of Conducting at Blair School of Music where the NJO is "Artist in Residence". Admission to either concert is $20 general admission, $15 for seniors, VU faculty and staff, and $10 for students. Tickets are available from Blair or band members; or at the Ingram Center box office the night of the performance.


HORACIO HERNANDEZ, given the name “El Negro” at birth, was already a master studio and touring percussionist in his native Havana when he escaped Cuba to live in Italy in 1995. Two years later he came to the US, where top Latin jazz musicians like Paquito D’Rivera and Michel Camilo began using him. Word quickly spread of his explosive virtuosity in both Latin and jazz idioms, and he has worked non-stop since. From the Latin sounds of Santana, Los Hombres Caliente, and Tito Puente, to the pop of Paul Simon, to the progressive jazz of Dizzy Gillespie and Joanne Brackeen, Horacio’s universal percussive abilities have already made him a drum legend with dozens of videos, books, and articles published about him.

RICHIE FLORES was born in Brooklyn but raised in Puerto Rico, and began playing congas at the age of 5. In a few years he was playing with top groups like El Gran Combo and Batacumbele. Moving back to New York, he joined Eddie Palmieri at the age of 17. He also works with David Sanchez, Dave Samuels, and a host of Latin Jazz greats.

JESUS DIAZ arrived in the San Francisco bay area from Cuba in 1980. His talent as percussionist, arranger, and vocalist have kept him working with top artists like Carlos Santana, Dizzy Gillespie, Pete Escovedo & Sheila E, and the Caribbean Jazz Project ever since. As an educator, he does numerous clinics and workshops, and has several instructional videos and books as a member of "Talking Drums".

From Nashville, Pearl Recording Artists LALO DAVILA and GLEN CARUBA will complete the expanded percussion section. Davila is co-leader and vocalist of Music City's popular Latin jazz band, "Orkesta Eme Pe", Director of Percussion Studies at MTSU, and leader of the MTSU Salsa Band and Percussion Ensemble. Caruba is a percussionist and teacher, author of several books and DVDs, and has worked with Jimmy Buffet, Barry Manilow, the Mavericks, and "Orkesta Eme Pe".

DALIA GARCIA, from Madrid, Spain, is an award-winning singer, songwriter, and actress. After being crowned Miss South Carolina, she toured for 8 years with Julio Iglesias, performing in 8 of his videos, and appeared in the movie "Lycanthrope". Her singing and songwriting has dominated several charts on, and she appears across the US with Al Delory & Salsa En Nashville, and others.


STAN KENTON led one of the most famous jazz big bands from 1941 to 1979. One of its seminal works was the 1956 "Cuban Fire Suite" by composer Johnny Richards. At the time, the marriage of American swing music and traditional Afro-Cuban music into a form called Latin jazz was little more than a decade old. Richards was of Latin heritage (born John Cascales), his work encouraged more use of Latin idioms in big bands, and musicians in the Latin jazz movement continue to site the Cuban Fire album as an influence and inspiration.

TITO PUENTE, master percussionist and arranger, was the most popular and influential of the "Mambo Kings", the great bandleaders who created Latin jazz in the 40's. "El Rey" (The King) worked from 1937 to 2000, recording well over 100 albums. His fame skyrocketed in the 50's dance craze for mambo and cha-cha, and his "Oye Como Va" was a huge hit. He won 5 Grammys, is in the Hispanic Hall of Fame and the Jazz Hall of Fame, has a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, and received a Smithsonian Lifetime Achievement Award.

CELIA CRUZ is the best-known and most influential female figure in Cuban music, with 23 gold albums and the title "La guarachera de Cuba". Joining Cuba's renowned Sonora Matancera orchestra, she became a star all over Latin America in the early 50's. In 1960 she moved to the US to pursue a solo career. Two decades of work with Tito Puente and the Fania All-Stars made her even more famous, and she continued touring the world in the 80's and 90's, winning a Grammy in 1990.

ARTURO SANDOVAL, composer and bandleader, was a virtuoso trumpeter in his native Cuba in the 70's and 80's. A master of Afro-Cuban music and influenced by bop trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, he became a leading exponent of modern Latin jazz upon his defection from Cuba in 1990. His band and bravura trumpet style were featured with the Nashville Symphony in 2001.

The Oct. 19 “Cuban Fire” concert is the first event in the NJO's 2007/2008 concert season as "Artist in Residence" at Blair School of Music. Founded in 1996 by Director Jim Williamson, the NJO is a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to perpetuating big band jazz. With 17 of Nashville's top session and jazz players, they play clubs and jazz festivals, often with guest artists like Randy Brecker, Lou Marini, Donald Brown, Bob Kurnow, Annie Sellick, and Connye Florance. Later concerts in the series include Dec. 1 - NJO presents David "Fathead" Newman in association with the Country Music Hall of Fame's Ray Charles Exhibit, Feb. 29 - NJO presents Wycliff Gordon, and April 17 – NJO's Third Annual Jazz Writer's Night. Their current CDs are Live at B.B. King's featuring Annie Sellick, and Legacy – First Annual Jazz Writer's Night.

The Martha Rivers Ingram Center for the Performing Arts is on the Blair campus at 2400 Blakemore Ave. For tickets, call 615-322-7651.

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