Join Me For Conversation and Live Music With David Virelles & Román Díaz on Oct. 18 (Special Offer for Pedrito Martinez Tickets!)

David Virelles, in conversation with Román Díaz and Larry Blumenfeld at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem Oct. 18
David Virelles, in conversation with Román Díaz and Larry Blumenfeld at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem Oct. 18

During my first of four sessions of “NYC: The Afro-Cuban Beat” at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, saxophonist and chekere player Yosvany Terry shared, among other things: secrets from his birthplace, Cuba’s Camagüey province; lessons from his father, Eladio “Don Pancho” Terry, a violinist and master of the chekeré; and new unreleased music from his innovative collective, Bohemian Trio.
If you missed all that, you’ll want to make it to the museum on Tuesday, October 18.
It will be an especially powerful session, thanks to the presence of pianist David Virelles and percussonist Román Díaz, two musicians who have invigorated the New York scene in several ways, including while playing together. The premise of my series is that Afro-Cuban traditions (not just rhythms, despite my title) have always coursed through New York City jazz; my “beat” covering that scene has revealed a recent flowering of that connection and its possibilities.
We’ll have discussion, recorded excerpts and live duo performance. Suggested $10 donation.
Here’s more on the program:
History, Mystery and Modernism: Pianist and composer David Virelles mines traditions of his native Santiago, Cuba, while using his current home in Brooklyn as a base for some of New York’s most striking and progressive music. Since coming to the U.S. in 1999, master percussionist, scholar and composer Román Díaz has been mentor to many musicians, key player in several ensembles, a spiritual guide to wide-ranging scene. Virelles and Díaz will discuss and demonstrate and discuss how musicology, mysticism and Cuban culture combine in their music.
I’ve written widely about both musicians. Here’s a blog piece on Díaz (which includes an embedded video from his Thursday night midnight rumba at Zinc Bar; and a Wall Street Journal profile of Virelles. Both articles out-of-date by now (these guys never stand still); we’ll be discussing what gave rise to thier music and how it continues to grow.
Here’s what’s coming up in the series in November:
November 7:
The Conversation Continued: Grammy-winning pianist and bandleader Arturo O’Farrill reflects on: the journey of his father, composer Chico O’Farrill, from Cuba to Manhattan; his own journeys in reverse; the founding and development of his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra; the present diplomatic embrace between the U.S. and Cuba; and his dream of an expansive, borderless musical tradition.
November 15:
New Yor-Uba, Then and Now: More than 30 years ago, pianist and composer Michele Rosewoman’s parallel paths—jazz and Afro-Cuban folklore—merged into a compelling whole in New York through her New Yor-Uba ensemble. Rosewoman will describe the awakening that led to that group, remember her studies with the late Orlando “Puntilla” Ríos, and explain the cross-generational way in which she has rekindled that group’s flame.
About that special offer:
The National Jazz Museum in Harlem invites you to its 2nd Annual Harlem Shout Fall Benefit Concert featuring Grammy  nominated Cuban percussionist Pedrito Martinez his quartet at the historic Alhambra Ballroom in Harlem on Nov. 1.
Proceeds go towards supporting ongoing free Jazz for Curious Listeners programming and Born in Harlem education programs for Upper Manhattan schools.
I’ve written about Pedrito often. Of course, he’d be a great addition to my conversation series. Then again, he says it all with his drums, his chants and his band. Also, good as his band has been, I’m told that the wondeful Yunior Terry (brother of Yosvany) is now the group’s bassist; that news gives me chills.
While supplies last (as they say on TV), the Museum is offering 50% to Blu Notes readers at this link. See you there.

Join Me for "NYC: The Afro-Cuban Beat" @ The National Jazz Museum in Harlem (Admission is Free)

Yosvany Terry will be my guest at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem on Sept. 22.

Come join me in Harlem this Fall for some exciting and free-of-charge events.
I’m thrilled to extend my long relationship with the National Jazz Museum in Harlem with a new series of discussions and listening sessions at the museum’s lovely new location on West 129th Street—NYC: The Afro-Cuban Beat.
My previous programs at NJMIH focused on New Orleans since the flood; these were low-key, in-depth and always highly charged conversations, rich with audience participation and musical interludes.
This new series explores a current flowering of Afro-Cuban influence along New York’s jazz landscape. My guests include: Yosvany Terry (September 22:); David Virelles and Román Díaz (October 18:); Arturo O’Farrill (November 7); and Michele Rosewoman (November 15). Details and links below.
Continue reading “Join Me for "NYC: The Afro-Cuban Beat" @ The National Jazz Museum in Harlem (Admission is Free)”

Come Celebrate the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, Where It Gets Done Right

NJMH%20FlagEarly in my career, the idea of institutions and museums dedicated to jazz, then a new thing, was met with consternation and fear. Jazz is organic, not dead, some said. It doesn’t belong in a museum.
Depends on the museum. Like most things, it’s all in how you do it. And where.
The National Jazz Museum in Harlem has been doing it right and in an appropriate place since 1997, when it was founded by Leonard Garment, counsel to two U.S. Presidents and accomplished jazz saxophonist, with the help of a $1 million Congressional Appropriation. It waves jazz’s banner smartly and warmly, with wisdom and coolness.
The museum’s 2015 benefit concert on June 10 at Hunter College’s Kaye Playhouse in Manhattan—highlighted by performances by saxophonist Joe Lovano and singer Dianne Reeves, and featuring award presentations to bassist Reggie Workman and the late  filmmaker Albert Maysles—should be a glittering event. Go here for more information or scroll down this post.) It will help support year-round programs, most of which are far more modest in scale but bold in the ways they truly live up to this statement, from the museum’s website: Continue reading “Come Celebrate the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, Where It Gets Done Right”