MEDIA: Jim Byers, email@example.com
PRESS RELEASE: January 12, 2016
CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH – METRO MAMBO “TIME MACHINE” LIVE & UNRELEASED RECORDINGS FROM TITO PUENTE’S ARCHIVIST JOE CONZO HIGHLIGHT AFRICAN-AMERICAN/LATINO INTERSECTIONS – BROADCAST LIVE ON WPFW 89.3 FM
Washington DC – Dance and Learn as the Metro Mambo “Time Machine” celebrates African-American intersections with Latin music during Black History Month! Historian Joe Conzo, Sr., Tito Puente’s archivist and biographer returns with moderator Jim Byers to share and discuss unreleased live and studio recordings by Latin-jazz greats. Followed by dancing to live music by DC’s Orquesta La Leyenda, the FREE event takes place on Sunday, February 28, 2016, from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at Dance Place, 3225 Eighth St, NE, 20017.
The event is part of the Metro Mambo Series produced and hosted by Jim Byers of the “Latin Flavor Classic Edition” on WPFW 89.3 FM, which will broadcast the event Live. The Series is made possible in part by a grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, an agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Imagine the legendary Machito orchestra before a screaming crowd at the Apollo Theater in 1950. Or visionary 1960’s jazz vocalist Oscar Brown, Jr. on-stage at the Palladium Ballroom ad-libbing lyrics to an otherwise wordless instrumental classic by Tito Puente. Conzo and Byers will briefly contextualize these and other rarities with the goal of highlighting the legacy of transculturation between African-American and Latino artists and communities.
“One example is an album’s worth of unreleased studio recordings by the legendary Tito Rodriguez,” says Byers. Dating from around 1956, the session includes mostly tunes written and arranged by African-American saxophonist Edgar Sampson. Ironically, Sampson composed both Stompin’ at the Savoy (the theme song of the Swing era’s fabled Harlem dance hall) and Mambo Inn – named for the Palladium Ballroom, New York’s iconic ‘Home of the Mambo’ in the 1950’s. It’s no coincidence, according to Byers. “In the mid-1930’s, Sampson was in the Chick Webb orchestra alongside trumpeters Mario Bauza and Dizzy Gillespie. In 1940, Bauza incorporated his newfound understanding of jazz into his role as musical director of the seminal Machito Orchestra – considered the pioneers of modern Afro-Cuban Jazz. Conversely, it was Bauza who introduced Gillespie to Afro-Cuban rhythms and, later, to Chano Pozo whose involvement in Gillespie’s bebop band is legend. These ‘lost recordings’ by Tito Rodriguez speak to the lasting and continuing impact of those 1930’s associations.”
Presented by the Smithsonian Institution from the time he created it in 2009 until 2014, Byers refused to let the disappearance of funding put an end to the popular series. In 2015, Byers independently produced a ‘pilot’ solo season, the three ‘standing-room-only events’ affirming the Series’ continued viability. He continues producing the series in association with new partners, including Anacostia Arts Center, Dance Place and GWU Lisner Auditorium.
This event at Dance Place marks a ‘return’ of sorts for both Jim Byers and Joe Conzo, whose September 2014 collaboration at the venue was standing room only. The ties go back further for Jim Byers, by day a veteran arts marketing professional in the DC area, who was Marketing Director for Dance Place from 1993 through 1996 when he began as Marketing Director for Arlington Cultural Affairs Division.
About Joe Conzo, Sr.
Tito Puente’s archivist and best friend of over 40 years, Conzo authored “Mambo Diablo: My Journey With Tito Puente” (Backbeat Books, 2011) – a comprehensive view of Puente and his world, and considered to be the definitive examination of his work to-date (limited autographed copies will be for sale at the event). A noted music historian and producer, Conzo maintains a large collection of live and unreleased studio recordings by Puente and many other legends of mid-century Latin music. His workshop series at Hostos Community College now entering its 6th season, Conzo contributes articles to numerous print and television outlets and is a consultant for a number of Tito Puente CD reissues, including the 5 CD set Cuatro: The Definitive Collection (Sony Music Latin).
About Orquesta La Leyenda
This traditional Latin big band presents a return to ‘old school’ Latin Dance music. Grounded in the repertoire of the New York City Latin bands of the 1950’s and 1960’s. The brainchild of D.C. born saxophonist and flutist Ted David, the band’s repertoire includes selections from Arsenio Rodriguez, Beny More, Sonora Matancera, Eddie Palmieri, Machito, Tito Rodriguez, and Orquesta Riverside. La Leyenda’s website is: www.orqlaleyenda.com
About Jim Byers
Among the programs specified when WPFW 89.3 FM won Washington City Paper’s 2014’s nod for “Best Weekend Radio,” Byers has hosted the “Latin Flavor Classic Edition” since 1996 using his private collection of 20,000 vintage recordings. Washington Post columnist and radio historian Marc Fischer called Byers “a creative gem on local airwaves.” For 25 years, Byers has lectured on Latin-jazz for the Kennedy Center, George Mason University and others. The Smithsonian Institution presented Byers’ ‘Metro Mambo’ Series from 2009-14. He is the recipient of two “Artists Fellowship Grant” Awards from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, recognizing his 19 years of creative, on-air educational music programming as a volunteer DJ on WPFW. Byers received an FY16 ‘City Arts Grant’ as he continues to self-produce the successful ‘Metro Mambo’ series. Prior to becoming Marketing Director for Arlington Cultural Affairs Division, Byers served in the same capacity for Dance Place. He began his career in the arts as a producer for Charlin Jazz Society, where he notably presented Tito Puente, Doc Cheatham, Ray Barretto, Vinx, Jon Faddis and others in the ‘Global Rhythm’ Series at GWU Lisner.
WHO: JOE CONZO, panelist; Orquesta LA LEYENDA, band
moderator, JIM BYERS (host, WPFW 89.3 FM’s “Latin Flavor Classic Edition”)
WHAT: “METRO MAMBO: TIME MACHINE” – lecture/concert
WHEN: SUNDAY (6:00 till 8:00 p.m.), FEBRUARY 28, 2016
WHERE: DANCE PLACE, 3225 8th Street, NE, Washington DC 20017
TICKETS: FREE TICKETS available through www.danceplace.org
The “Metro Mambo” Series is made possible in part by a generous “City Arts Grant” from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, an agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. “Metro Mambo” appreciates the cooperation of Dance Place, Anacostia Arts Center, and The George Washington University Lisner Auditorium.
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