Summer of Music kicks off with Afro-Cuban Jazz Project |

Summer of Music kicks off with Afro-Cuban Jazz Project

Christina Brusig
The Afro-Cuban Jazz Project headlines the first season five Summer of Music concert, beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday in Two Rivers Park.
Courtesy photo |

Tonight, the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts begins Summer of Music Season Five with a beat that will pick you up and set you down dancing.

Direct from Cuba, via the United States, the Afro-Cuban Jazz Project, known as the AC JAZZ PROJECT, is a who’s who of former members of some of Cuba’s greatest jazz and dance bands (Piloto & Klimax, Haila, Maraca, NG La Banda, and Grupo Afrocuba) who throw down some serious timba (Cuba’s hottest dance music), traditional son (Salsa Cubana), in addition to what most recognize as contemporary Afro-Cuban jazz.

A sensation at the Utah Arts Festival, music critic Les Roka had a front row experience and caught the unique magic of the AC Jazz Project:

“There is a phenomenally talented generation of Cuban musicians, including some who have not yet reached the age of 30, who are demonstrating to the world the truest, most dynamic elements of Cuban music that are far, far away from the nostalgic sounds of the 1950s that people often have associated from the genre.

“Smolderingly sensual, wickedly witty, and smartly provocative, today’s Afro-Cuban music — rumba, folklore, danzon, cha cha cha, mambo, son and timba — is a virtuosic expression with enormously significant cultural relevance to street life in Cuba and in the United States.

“In particular, timba’s roaring success in recent years arises from acknowledging that unlike other popular forms of music — which normally are propelled by professional musicians with limited training — timba is guided by musicians who have had first-class training at outstanding music schools and conservatories. It captures the rawest, best elements of popular street and barrio life in electrifying dance music that is composed and arranged within the range of some of the most sophisticated musical skills and techniques. It may be the most viscerally successful example of how so-called serious classical and popular music forms are blended together in a way that is culturally relevant and important to everyone. That said, timba is one of the most difficult, technically demanding forms of music out there today. Festival audiences will see musicians who command a remarkable set of skills and techniques. Of course, the reward will pull audiences from their seats and have them dancing in front of the stage and in the aisles.”

Opening for the AC Jazz Project are Chris Bank’s Jazz Aspen Snowmass Summer Camp standouts. The JAS Summer Camp is designed for middle and high school students of the Roaring Fork Valley and beyond. The camp provides direct music instruction from professional musicians, including private lessons and group workshops as well as live performance elements.

These future jazz all-stars are joined by music majors from the Denver area and will be directed by Chris Harrison, a member of the JAS faculty.

Chris Banks is the Summer of Music talent coordinator who single-handedly brings top musicians from around the country and has made Glenwood Springs a key venue for premiere artists.

The Glenwood Springs Summer of Music is produced by the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts and made possible by title sponsor Alpine Bank and other major sponsors: Coldwell Banker Mason Morse Realty, Bighorn Toyota, Western Slope Communications, Garfield County, city of Glenwood Springs, KMTS, Balcomb and Green PC., Gould Construction, Glenwood Hot Springs, Cooper Wine and Spirits, Garfield and Hecht PC, Stifel, Pioneer Steel Inc., Century Link, The Ramada Inn, Mountain Roll Offs Inc., First Line Security, The Indoor Garden and Brew Supply, the Reynolds Co., Qdoba, Copy Copy, Roaring Fork Liquors and the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. A special thanks to everyone who donates to the series. It is because of you that we can keep this tradition alive.

A big thank-you to our Summer of Music committee: Chris Bank, Judy O’Donnell, Mary Gould, Annie Olson, Dave Reynolds, Raquel Koch, Jack Green and the staff at the Center for the Arts.

Please remember to follow the simple park rules: no smoking, no pets and no glass in the park.

The Summer of Music 2015 takes us where we want to go and, as Herbie Hancock said, “It’s not exclusive, but inclusive, which is the whole spirit of jazz.”

See you tonight at 6:30!

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