Home New York Report JAZZ AT THE CROSSROADS presents OUT OF RA





“Led by the drummer and composer Francisco Mora-Catlett, AfroHORN seeks a mystical but earthy vision of rhythm and folklore, inspired not only by Afro-Cuban music but also the Sun Ra Arkestra, in which Mr. Mora-Catlett played in the 1970s.” – The New York Times

[The George Burton Quintet]
“Their sound is shadowy… with a fluid modality that suggests McCoy Tyner at his chillest.” – Philadelphia Paper

“Like the best Cuban percussionists and folkloric masters, and as with jazz’s greatest players, Díaz knows that tradition is never a static thing.” – Larry Blumenfeld, Blu Notes

Jazz at the Crossroads presents the debut of Out of Ra – an avant-garde extravaganza of three interconnected shows by visionary bandleaders influenced and inspired by Sun Ra: Francisco Mora-Catlett, the former drummer of the Sun Ra Arkestra, George Burton, the current pianist of the Arkestra, and Román Díaz, the premiere percussionist of Cuba. Each of these groundbreaking musicians has taken the Sun Ra legacy into new territory – Francisco Mora-Catlett has integrated Latin American surrealism into avant-garde jazz – George Burton brings the sensibility of a Romantic to his edgy compositions – and Román Díaz delineates how African folklore and ritual are intimately connected to the futurism of Sun Ra’s music theory.

It’s all related – AfroLatino drummer Francisco Mora-Catlett has participated in some of the most exciting experiments in jazz history, ranging from Sun Ra to Max Roach’s M’Boom Percussion Choir. With his AfroHORN project, Mora-Catlett, a formidable composer and conceptualist, maps the secret paths that connect avant garde jazz to Cuban folklore, African mysticism and Latin American surrealism.

AfroHORN is multi-cultural and multi-generational: Cuban stars Aruan Ortiz on piano and Roman Diaz on percussion, Brad Jones on bass, and celebrated sax player Sam Newsome on soprano. AfroHORN’s shows have been generating significant buzz: famed bassist Henry Grimes and heavyweight jazz commentator Amiri Baraka have come to see them; illustrious jazzmen Jack Walrath, Donald Harrison, Steve Turre and J.D. Allen have jammed with the band at Jazz Standard – the 2013 Winter JazzFest – The Detroit Jazz Festival 2013.

Pianist/composer/bandleader George Burton is a star of cutting edge jazz.
Praised as “formidable” by NPR, and “charismatic” by The New York Times, he has been on the radar of everyone looking for exciting new music since he arrived in New York ten years ago. Burton’s dazzling virtuosity and breathtakingly eclectic approach to music reflect his experience in every aspect of the spectrum of jazz – beginning with rigorous classical training, branching into his equally rigorous experience in the heady nightlife of the Philadelphia jazz scene, and earning him a place on the world stage with some of the most significant practioners of bop, post bop and beyond – from Eddie Henderson, Jack Walrath and Terrell Stafford – to his current position as the pianist for the Sun Ra Arkestra.

AfroCuban master drummer Roman Diaz & his nine piece percussion & vocal & dance ensemble perform the living magic of the AfroCaribbean experience.

The rumba of Román Díaz is a living repository of the polyrhythmic drumming, ritual dance and call-and-response singing that came to the Caribbean from West Africa. Handed down from tribal leaders from generation to generation, in secret societies, the rumba has maintained the original languages of the Congo, Yoruba and Abakuá nations during the African diaspora.

Román Díaz came to fame as a member of the world-renown Cuban folkloric ensemble Yoruba Andabo, under the direction of the legendary percussionist Pancho Quinto – but the rumba he brings to Zinc Bar is a departure from the rehearsed presentations of the official folkloric touring groups. Midnight Rumba – now in its third year of a Thursday night residency at Zinc Bar – is the authentic, spontaneous rumba of working class neighborhoods, played in back alleys and inner courtyards of dilapated tenements, often on handmade instruments and even wooden boxes, bureau drawers and plastic pails. This is the rumba of ambiente: an atmosphere building toward ecstatic fervor at the threshold of possession.

That seductive, mysterious ambiente might explain the critcal acclaim that MIDNIGHT RUMBA received from their performance at the NYC Winter Jazzfest in 2013. And why a who’s who of great percussionists have come to pay homage to him by playing with the rumba – from Miguelo Valdes, Samuel Torres and Francisco Mela to the pandeiros of a samba school from Sao Paolo. The jazz pianists Aruan Ortiz, David Virelles and Axel Laugart have joined the music – brilliantly – and New Orleans jazz saxophonist Donald Harrison sits in – and fits in – on almost every trip he makes to New York. Sometimes a superstar of Latin music will show up – Ruben Blades came by recently – and there are frequent visits from a Hollywood movie star (going under the radar in baseball cap & sweats).

JAZZ AT THE CROSSROADS is an ongoing performance series created by Dita Sullivan to map where the diverse branches of jazz intertwine – the folkloric and the avant-garde, the Caribbean and classical, bebop and pop. Launched at the legendary Harlem jazz club, Minton’s, in 2014, Jazz at the Crossroads has presented some of the most acclaimed new artists in avant-garde and Latin jazz – pianists George Burton, David Virelles and Fernando Otero; the giants of post-bop Jack Walrath, Donald Harrison and Brian Lynch; the New York debuts of Cuban artists Don Pancho Terry and Melvis Santa – and the weekly Midnight Rumba of Román Díaz.

9PM – 10:30 PM – MIDNIGHT

A graduate of Empire State College with a dual major in journalism and Latin American studies, Tomas Peña has spent years applying his knowledge and writing skills to the promotion of great musicians. A specialist in the crossroads between jazz and Latin music, Peña has written extensively on the subject.


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