Chamber Music America awarded SJZ a 2019 Presenter Consortium for Jazz grant which allowed us to present Elio Villafranca at the 2019 Summer Fest.
Closing out the Hammer Theatre on Saturday night, the theater was packed to the brim at fest-goers pushed their way in to see this unique concert. In his set Villafranca presented music he composed for his Grammy Award-nominated album Cinque, which explored the distinctive and shared cultural rhythms that connect Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. The work was inspired by the feats of Joseph Cinque, who led the 1839 revolt by enslaved Mende people on the Spanish slave ship La Amistad.
JazzTimes called this performance “the most intelligent, provocative, and engaging set” of the 30th annual Fest. “Pianist/composer/bandleader Elio Villafranca helmed a daring ensemble overflowing with all-stars: saxophonists Vincent Herring and Greg Tardy, trumpeter Freddie Hendrix, trombonist/conch-shell player Steve Turre, drummer Lewis Nash, and percussionist Arturo Stable.”
JazzTimes also called the material from Cinque “intriguing and challenging…” and other critics agreed: DownBeat called his two-disc set a “compelling and complex dedication to [Joseph] Cinque.” Of Villafranca, Latin Jazz Network observed the “sense of narrative that he brings to this epic work is utterly persuasive as he breathes life into the work, forcing us to inhale and exhale with him. A long and happy and illustrious future is predicted for this work that can only be described as monumental.”
San Jose Jazz was proud to present this important work, which was the highlight of the Latin jazz offerings at a festival known as the largest presentation of Latin jazz on the West Coast.
Chamber Music America’s Presenter Consortium for Jazz provides support to consortiums of three US presenters that collectively engage up to three professional US jazz ensembles (consisting of 2-10 musicians each) to perform at each presenter’s venue. Incentives are available to each consortium partner that invites one of the CMA New Jazz Works grantee ensembles to perform its entire CMA commission. Other recipients of this prestigious support include SFJAZZ, Stanford Live, Walker Art Center and the Asia Society, New York.
Header Photo by Robert Birnbach