Papo Vázquez’ Mighty Pirates Troubadours highlights ever-growing annual event!
With each passing year, the Chicago Latin Jazz Festival not only expands its audience and drives up the excitement factor, it increasingly exposes local fans to giants of Afro-Caribbean music who don’t often perform in these parts. Friday’s headliner is the great Philadelphia-born, New York-based trombonist Papo Vázquez, whose sizzling Afro Puerto Rican septet honors the sister traditions of Latin music and jazz while blazing new paths with its innovative style.
As a trombonist who cites John Coltrane and J.J. Johnson as his greatest musical influences, Vázquez has made his mark with a dizzying number of Latin and jazz immortals including Tito Puente, Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Foster, Mel Lewis and Ray Charles. He was a founding member of Jerry Gonzalez’ Fort Apache Band and Conjunto Libre and the Latin fusion band Batacumbele. He has recorded with Chico O’Farrill, Fania All-Stars including Ray Barretto and Wayne Shorter.
But it is with his own bands that he has made his strongest mark, combining jazz and Puerto Rican bomba into a scintillating style, and incorporating other traditional forms such as plena. Loaded with talent including the exciting veteran saxophonist Willie Williams and the legendary percussionist Anthony Carrillo, the Mighty Pirates Troubadours live up to their own description. The band also includes pianist Rick Germanson, bassist Dezron Douglas, drummer Alvester Garnett and percussionist Carlitos Maldonado.
Friday’s bill is rounded out by a pair of superb groups led by rising stars. The Samuel Del Real Orchestra, headed by the Colombia-born pianist, features original arrangements of music from his native country. The Roy McGrath Quintet, led by the Puerto Rican-born saxophonist, includes pianist Joaquin Garcia, bassist Ian Stewart, drummer Juan Pastor and conga player Victor “Junito” Rivera.
Saturday’s night’s headliner boasts no small degree of firepower itself. Victor Garcia, one of Chicago’s leading trumpeters and bandleaders, will head up a genre-crossing ensemble including a Windy City institution, blues harpist Billy Branch. The band includes freewheeling saxophonist Greg Ward, reedist Rich Moore, trombonist Luke Malewic, guitarist Scott Hesse, keyboardist Dan Trudell and drummer Charles Heath. Fest artistic director Carlos Flores said their set will be in honor of departed giants B.B. King and Bo Diddley.
Garcia’s band will be preceded by Orquesta Charangueo, led by local bass player Rene Avila, which specializes in charanga, the Cuban dance music popular in the 1940s, and Jose Valdes and his Big Latin Jazz Band, featuring vocalist Sonia Perez.
Saturday afternoon will be packed with music and cultural events for the whole family, with numerous community organizations on hand to show off their works and involve festgoers in dancing and such. In the beautiful setting of the Humboldt Park Boathouse, what more could you ask for?
Here is the complete schedule for the 9th Chicago Latin Jazz Festival:
Friday July 17:
7 PM Samuel Del Real Orchestra
8 PM Roy McGrath Quintet
9 PM Papo Vazquez’ Mighty Pirates Troubadours
Saturday July 18
1:30 PM Laruni Hati Garifuna Dance Group of Chicago
2:30 PM Chicago Mariachi Project
3:30 PM Chicago Cuatro Orchestra
5:30 PM Orquesta Charangueo
6:30 PM Jose Valdes Orchestra
7:30 PM Victor Garcia Ensemble with Billy Branch