Tito Puente Latin Music Series: Free Concerts in July

By
Margot Edwards
June 4, 2009
Orquesta Bacharengue
Obbini Tumbao
Javier Arroyo and the Salsa Night Band
Victor Mendoza
Photo by Laurel Kilbourn
Photo provided by the artist
Photo provided by the artist
Photo by Phil Farnsworth

From merengue and salsa to Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz, the fifth-annual Tito Puente Latin Music Series promises to heat-up two of Boston's neighborhood public parks in July with danceable rhythms.  The series—presented by Berklee College of Music; Villa Victoria Center for the Arts; and ParkARTS—features Berklee faculty, students, and guest artists hailing from various parts of Latin America, including the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Mexico.    

The free music series takes place outdoors in two locations in the city on four Thursday evenings: July 9, 16, 23, and 30. The July 9 concert happens at Mozart Park, 10 Mozart Street, in Jamaica Plain, accessible by the Jackson Square T stop on the orange line. The concerts on July 16, 23, and 30 take place at O'Day Park, next door to Villa Victoria Center for the Arts, 85 West Newton Street, in Boston's South End.  The concerts take place rain or shine. The rain venue is Villa Victoria Center for the Arts, 85 W. Newton St., Boston. 

All concerts are from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. For more information, call 617 927-1717, email aalvear@iba-etc.org, or visit berklee.edu/events/summer. The parks are wheelchair accessible.

This year's program:

July 9 - Orquesta Bacharengue at Mozart Park

In collaboration with the Hyde Square Task Force

Orquesta Bacharengue, led by Berklee faculty member Ricardo Monzón, was inspired by the enthusiasm that grew around the formation of the Berklee Merengue Ensemble in 2008. Drawing on a wealth of connections between students, faculty, and Boston area musicians, the group brings talented musicians together to perform two popular genres developed in the Dominican Republic: bachata and merengue, hence the name Bacharengue. The energy and dynamism of this combination will surely get the audience dancing. Joining Orquesta Bacharengue for this concert will be special guest Henry Jiménez, composer, pianist, producer, and arranger for Grammy-winner Olga Tañón, and Latin Grammy-winners Johnny Ventura and Milly Quezada.

July 16 - Javier Arroyo and the Salsa Night Band at O'Day Park

Javier Arroyo, a Cape Cod resident, has deep roots in music. As a boy in Puerto Rico, his father and uncles would gather in the evenings, bringing their guitars along with the Puerto Rican cuatro, and sing old boleros, guarachas, rancheras, and decimas.  They would give him nickels and quarters for singing the songs they especially liked. Arroyo loved the way the sounds intermixed and soon developed his singing skills in tone with them. He has performed with such artists as Willie Colón, Luisito Ayala, Puerto Rican Power, and El Gran Combo. Javier Arroyo and the Salsa Night Band, a 12-piece group featuring some of the best musicians in the Northeast, debuted at Boston's Puerto Rican Festival in 2002 and just released its first CD. 

July 23 - Obbini Tumbao at O'Day Park

Cacao Música recording artists and winners of the 2006 Boston Phoenix poll for Best World Music Act, Obbini Tumbao delivers high-energy dance music. Rebecca Cline, a Berklee faculty pianist from Athens, Georgia, joins forces with Anita Quinto, a percussionist from Caracas, Venezuela, to produce a compelling new sound for fans of the infectious grooves associated with artists like Buena Vista Social Club. The band's powerful horn section is supported by an ebullient rhythm section of congas, timbales, bongos, piano, and bass. In five short years, Obbini Tumbao has gained the loyal affection of the Boston-area salsa-music-loving public. The group performs regularly to sold-out audiences at the Regattabar, Scullers, and Ryles.

July 30 - Victor Mendoza at O'Day Park

Mexico-born vibraphonist and composer Victor Mendoza is considered to be one of today's finest Latin jazz artists. At this concert he will perform a newly developed dance music repertoire.  Recordings and performances with Mendoza's own group and with artists such as Paquito D'Rivera, Danilo Pérez, Michel Camilo, Claudio Roditi, and Antonio Sánchez, have earned him the respect of critics and fans around the globe. Black Bean Blues, his most recent CD, was named one of the best Latin jazz albums of the year by Modern Drummer. The Smithsonian included the album in Latin Jazz: The Perfect Combination, its first major exhibit about the genre.  Mendoza, a Berklee professor with a reputation as a top educator, regularly conducts master classes around the world.  He is releasing an educational DVD this fall.

Now in its 13th year, ParkARTS began as Mayor Thomas M. Menino's initiative to present a yearlong program of arts- and culture-related programs and events in Boston's park system. ParkARTS, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department's multifaceted arts program, incorporates the visual, performing, and participatory arts. The 2009 ParkARTS performing arts program, sponsored by Bank of America, will present concerts in Boston neighborhood parks that range from jazz to symphonic music. 

Villa Victoria Center for the Arts is a non-profit arts and culture center dedicated to preserving, promoting, and celebrating Latino arts and artists, and creating cross-cultural collaborations. Villa Victoria Center for the Arts is a program of Inquilinous Boricuas en Acción, a non-profit organization that since 1968 has been a leader in the Boston community for holistic community development and programming. Villa Victoria Center for the Arts is located in the heart of Villa Victoria, on W. Newton Street (between Tremont Street and Shawmut Avenue).