Latin Music Series Hits South End

Allen Bush
June 16, 2008
Gregorio Uribe
Manolo Mairena
Photo provided by the artist
Photo provided by the artist

Summer afternoons in Boston can sizzle, but evening respites in a neighborhood park, listening and dancing to tropical sounds and syncopated beats, can be even hotter. The fourth-annual Tito Puente Latin Music Series-presented by Berklee College of Music; La Casa de La Cultura/Center for Latino Arts, IBA; and ParkARTS-combines the Latin rhythms of Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Costa Rica with influences from far-flung corners of the world, reflecting Berklee's sonic melting pot.

The free music series takes place over four Thursday evenings-July 10, 17, 24, and 31-outdoors at O'Day Park, next door to the Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center, 85 West Newton Street, in Boston's South End. Concerts are from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Free Shuttle service between the Berklee Performance Center (BPC) and O'Day Park is provided for every concert. Shuttle trolleys run every 20 minutes. The first one departs at 6:30 p.m. and each passenger will receive Boloco cards redeemable for free food. The last trolley will return to the BPC at 10:00 p.m.

For more information, call 617 927-1707, email, or visit The park is wheelchair accessible.

This year's program:

July 10 - The wildly danceable Gregorio Uribe Big Band is a 15-piece group that plays Gregorio Uribe's original songs and traditional Colombian music. With Berklee alumnus Uribe sometimes squeezing an accordion and nine horn players soaring over the percussion, the band is reminiscent of Columbian porro groups, similar to New Orleans second-line bands, but with updated harmonies and arrangements. Uribe was born in Bogotá, Colombia, and started his musical life playing drums and guitar in traditional Colombian music and punk/rock bands. His current projects reflect the energy of his teenage years; he also plays drums in Pop Filter, rocking out on music from the Caribbean coast of Colombia.

July 17 - The Berklee Latin Jazz All-Stars will be joined by singers and horn players, expanding into a nine-piece salsa dance band including students from Puerto Rico, Cuba, Israel, and the United States. The group's six core members coalesce around their love for the polyrhythm and joyful precision of Latin jazz. The group was named this year's Best College Jazz Band by Down Beat magazine, under the name La Timbistica, and recently performed in the Monterey Jazz Festival's Next Generation Festival in California. The All-Stars are led by conguero Paulo Stagnaro, and feature flutist Enrique Trinidad and timbalero Marcos Lopez in this performance. This summer, the group will also perform at the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival in Washington, D.C.

July 24 - Manolo Mairena is a sonero (salsa singer) and percussionist from Costa Rica who has fused Afro-Caribbean and Latin music with an array of styles he learned since moving to the U.S. at 16. He began his career stateside performing traditional Puerto Rican music. His playing drew attention from some of the major Latin bands in New England, and he played or recorded with Tropical Sound, Mango Blue, Manguito, Obini Tumbao, and Combo Sabroso, among many others. He started his own band called Curubandé, which he still performs with today. Mairena has toured Spain and Mexico and has also performed in Australia, Cuba, India, and Puerto Rico. Currently, he is working on Mi Oportunidad, an album of original music featuring a cast of top performers including Alex Alvear, Angel Subero, and Gonzalo Grau, among others.

July 31 - Eguie Castrillo, who will perform with his orchestra, is a native of San Juan and an authority on the rhythms of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad and Tobago. The timbale and conga player has performed or recorded with such Latin luminaries as Arturo Sandoval, Ruben Blades, and Michel Camilo, and American pop and jazz stars including Michael Brecker, Steve Winwood, and Jennifer Lopez. Among his greatest influences is Tito Puente, whose spirit lives in Castrillo's orchestra performances that salute the 1950s Palladium Ballroom scene in New York, where dancers went wild for Puente's mambo music. The 18-piece orchestra includes a large horn section, congas, bongos, and lots of energy. Castrillo has been teaching in Berklee's Percussion Department since 1999.

Now in its 12th 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 2008 ParkARTS performing arts program will present concerts in Boston neighborhood parks that range from jazz to symphonic music.

The Center for Latino Arts/La Casa de la Cultura is a cutting-edge, multi-functional community arts complex that conveys to both Latinos and non-Latinos from all over New England the vitality of contemporary and traditional Latino cultural expressions, including folk dance and music, Latin jazz, film, poetry, and theater. The center joins the Jorge Hernandez performance space (converted into a 450-seat venue from a historic church in 1986) with a new community arts center (renovated from the adjacent parish house in 2003) that includes a gallery, dance studio, and visual arts studio. Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA) is a dynamic community building agency dedicated to increasing the social and economic power of individuals and families through education, economic development, technology, and arts programming that build safe, vibrant, and culturally diverse affordable housing communities.

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