Posted on 15 June 2018
by MMNY Staff
It’s that time of season where we like to feature each of our Special Projects so that you, the Make […]
The Puerto Rican tradition of parranda and the Garifuna tradition of paranda involve processions of carolers going door-to-door during the holiday season. In exchange for the visitors’ music and poetry, residents traditionally give food and gifts.
This year in the Bronx — home to large populations of Garifuna and Puerto Ricans — join WHEDCO in a festive holiday processional, and visit different sites in the Morrisania community: Intervale Green, the nation’s largest multi-family, Energy Star certified, affordable housing development for Garifuna tunes and dance; the local boxing gym, El Maestro, for Puerto Rican music; and ultimately, the Bronx Music Heritage Center Lab for a parranda con paranda jam amongst musicians from both cultures.
Featured musicians include Hector “Pucho” Alamo, Lucy Blanco, Carlos Espada, Matthew Gonzalez, James Lovell, Los Hermanos Nuñez and Jorge “Georgie” Vázquez.
WHEDCO / Bronx Music Heritage Center. Cutting-edge music has a deeply rooted history in the Bronx. Jazz legends, Hip Hop innovators, and a melting pot of sounds have proliferated in the borough for decades. While the music thrived, venues didn’t: over 20,000 live music seats in dozens of clubs and theaters were lost in the Bronx since the 1970s. Yet, to this day, artists from a wide array of cultural backgrounds make the Bronx their home, creating new work, collaborating across genres and generations, and innovating music forms in one of the most diverse counties in the nation. The Women's Housing and Economic Development Corporation will develop the Bronx Music Heritage Center (BMHC), a performance and community space to showcase and amplify the Bronx's rich musical legacy, scheduled for completion in 2017. In the meantime, the BMHC Lab is engaging artists and community members to gather, participate in performances, and express their vision for this new cultural facility. For more information: www.bronxmusic.org
Hector “Pucho” Alamo started studying his instrument at a very early age with Maso Rivera in Puerto Rico. After moving to New York and studying with Quique Ayala and others, he eventually underwent an intensive apprenticeship with the late Edgardo Miranda and was taken under Yomo Toro's wing. Out of appreciation, Yomo gave him his most recognized cuatro (which bears Yomo's name) and even referred to him as "Yomito." He also played cuatro for the jíbaro–fusion band, Yerbabuena.
Lucy Blanco’s family roots began in a small fisherman’s village in Santa Rosa de Aguan, Honduras in Central America. Her parents migrated to the Bronx, New York in 1964 where she was born. Her musical influences are varied and include Ella Fitzgerald, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Hector Lavoe, Gloria Estefan and Celia Cruz. Her life was forever changed when she got a chance to attend an Artist in Residence program at the Conservatory of Music in The Hague with Dr. Barry Harris, as a member of The Radiant Voices. She credits The World Stage, the late Billy Higgins, the late Dahl Scott, pianist/composer/arranger, the late Michael Andrews, and many other artists and friends who graciously opened the door and provided wonderful opportunities to learn about the art of jazz. Since relocating to New York City in August 2009, she has worked with some of the best musicians the East Coast has to offer such as Benito Gonzalez, Mala Waldron, Mimi Jones and Andrea Brachfeld. She performed at the 8th Annual Lady Got Chops Jazz Festival founded by Kim Clarke. Ms. Blanco is currently producing her debut album with International Pianist Warren Byrd. She is a founding member of the Afri-Garifuna Jazz Ensemble with Garifuna musician James Lovell. The ensemble is developing a new musical concept of fusing the music of her Garifuna ancestry with America’s classical music, jazz.
Carlos Espada is a vocalist and percussionist in the bomba and plena tradition and has performed with different groups including Cumabayala, led by Matthew Gonzalez.
Mathew Gonzalez is a 22-year-old dancer and percussionist. Matthew was steeped in the traditions of plena music from a young age, as he was nurtured by his grandfather, Benny Ayala – the master traditional artist and one of the original members of El Rincón Criollo in the South Bronx. Matthew studied at the Harbor Conservatory, learning Latin percussion instruments and in 2010-2011, he was selected as a Tito Puente Scholarship Fund recipient. Gonzalez has been a member of Danza Fiesta and Los Pleneros de la 21, demonstrating skill in music and dance. Additionally, he has played for Aurora y Zon Del Barrio, the Bobby Sanabria Orchestra, and was featured in the Hostos Center for the Arts and Culture’s “Young Roots Performance Series.” Matthew performs as a freelance artist throughout New York City, and plays with his group, named after his grandfather’s group Cumbayala. He focuses on playing traditional Puerto Rican music while adding elements from the new generation.
James Lovell was born in the village of Mango Creek, but grew up in Dangriga Town, Belize. After graduating from Ecumenical High School in Dangriga Town, James joined the Belize Police Force Band, where he learned to play several instruments such as the guitar, bass guitar, clarinet, euphonium saxophone and keyboards, and took advanced correspondence courses from the Royal School of Music. He learned to read and write music and to arrange musical compositions. In 1990, James migrated to the United States. In June 1995, James produced and released his first professional CD album entitled Cabasan Numari. James has also produced and recorded three albums and is presently working on a bilingual children nursery rhymes album. In 2005 and 2008, he facilitated “Habinaha Garinagu” (Dance Garifuna) in Dangriga Belize, sponsored by the National Garifuna Council. He has also been the Vice President and Musical Director for “Illagulei,” a Garifuna performing arts company. Recently James was instrumental in the Garifuna Language and Culture program through “YuGaCuRe” (Yurumein Garifuna Cultural Retrieval Program), that is reclaiming and teaching the language and culture to children and adults in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which is the ancestral homeland of the Garifuna. Under the leadership and sponsorship of the National Garifuna Council of Belize, he obtained two grants, the first from the World Bank for Indigenous People Fund in 2005, and the second from UNESCO in 2008, both which led James to be hired to facilitate the Garifuna Dance and Music Workshop in Dangriga Town, Belize.
Los Hermanos Nuñez are Delmo, Julio, and Chester, percussionists and singers from Honduras. This past summer they performed with James Lovell and other Garifuna musicians at the Smithsonian Institution’s Folklife Festival program called “One World, Many Voices: Endangered Language and Cultural Heritage.”
Jorge "Georgie" Vázquez was born in "The Bronx, Puerto Rico," where he has lived all his life. Captured at an early age by music, he has played everything from heavy metal to reggae, bomba, plena, rumba, jíbaro music, salsa and R&B. For him, music has been a vehicle to get in touch with himself and his Puerto Rican roots. A well-rounded percussionist, Vázquez plays the congas, drum-set, timbales, barriles, bongó, and a wide variety of other Afro-Caribbean drums. Vázquez is a well-known percussionist within the New York City Puerto Rican and Caribbean music circles. He was a founding member of the urban jíbaro group Yerbabuena, as well as a member of Ya Está, Vaya, Alma Moyó and the children's musical group Hot Peas 'N Butter. He has performed with a variety of musical groups in the city, including Viento de Agua Unplugged, Taíno, Sonido Isleño and Los Instantáneos de la Plena (of El Rincón Criollo). He has also performed with esteemed musicians such as Pepe Castillo, Choco Orta and Latin Grammy-nominated jazz trombonist William Cepeda, and alongside such legends as Tito Puente, king of the cuatro Yomo Toro and folk singer-songwriter Antonio Cabán Vale "El Topo". He has recorded with Arturo O'Farrill and Mike Stern, as well as with Yomo Toro. Along with Hot Peas 'N Butter, he is featured in the video "Different Spokes for Different Folks," a song which was written for the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital's national campaign, "Trike-A-Thon."