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Jorge Sylvester

JORGE SYLVESTER: Alto Saxophonist, Composer, Conductor, Arranger, Bandleader, Producer, Educator

Born in Colon, Panama Jorge attended the Panama Conservatory of Music and the University of Panama. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Music from the State University of New York College at New Paltz in 1981. A unique innovator and impressive composer and arranger in the idiom of creative music, his sound is reminiscent of Eric Dolphy and Ornette Coleman. Jorge has remained on the cutting edge of the creative NY Jazz scene since his arrival from Spain in 1980. Sylvester’s blend of African-Caribbean rhythms with new music is what gives him his distinguished voice.

Beginning his professional career at age 14, Jorge was leading his own Caribbean dance band, writing his own arrangements and compositions. He studied privately with renowned Panamanian jazz saxophonist, Euclides Hall. Upon the recommendation of his professor, Efrain Castro, Jorge became a regular musician in the great Panamanian pianist Victor Boa’s band. Heading for Europe in his early twenties, Sylvester spent ten years touring and recording with his ensembles and freelancing throughout Europe.

​ADDITIONAL STUDIES: Mr. Sylvester studied advanced harmony with Argentinian pianist, composer Luis Vecchio in Las Palmas de Gran Canarias, Spain whose Quartet he also then recorded with. Upon his arrival to New York in 1980, he studied with Dave Holland, Oliver Lake, Steve Lacy, Ramsey Ameen, Marion Brown and many others at vibraphonist Karl Berger’s Creative Music Studio in Woodstock.

​ARTIST PERFORMANCE ASSOCIATIONS: Andrew Cyrille, Craig Harris, David Murray, Oliver Lake, Monte Croft, Stefon Harris, Rodney Kendrick, Karl Berger, Carlos Garnett, Santi Debriano, Billy Cobham, Danilo Perez, poet Sekou Sundiata, The Black Rock Coalition Orchestra, Kuumba Frank Lacy’s Vibe Tribe, Next Legacy Orchestra, Joe Bowie’s Defunkt Big Band and Nora McCarthy who is a member of his group(s) The ACE (Afro- Caribbean Experimental) Collective and its extended edition with strings. Since their collaboration that began in 2000, Ms. McCarthy also co-leads several groups with Sylvester, namely: The ConceptualMotion Orchestra and A Small Dream In Red (voice and saxophone duet) A CD by the same name was released on the Sundown label in March, 2003 and in 2013, In the Language of Dreams was released on their RedZen Records label. Both CDs garnered rave reviews establishing them as one of the world’s most unique and innovative duos performing in this format and instrumentation.

​ TOURS/RESIDENCIES/NOTABLE CONCERTS: Andrew Cyrille at The Kitchen NYC, Europe with Joe Bowie’s Defunkt Big Band; Performances with Trombonist composer Craig Harris; Europe and Israel with the World Saxophone Quartet; Danilo Perez’s Panamanian Jazz All Stars for the Panama Jazz Festival; Podgorica, Montenegro Jazz Appreciation Month Series with A Small Dream in Red and appeared on the television show, Good Morning Montenegro; concert and recording in Linz, Austria at the Brucknerhaus Concert Hall with Jorge Sylvester ACE Collective; Vision Festival X, NYC with ConceptualMotion Orchestra; the Baha’i Center, Dizzy Gillespie Theater, NYC yearly residency from 2010 to present with CMO; and, monthly residency (both performances and workshops) at El Taller Latino Americano Arts Center, NYC with CMO featuring guest artists since 2018.

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Extended Analysis

Jorge Sylvester Ace Collective: Spirit Driven

Read "Jorge Sylvester Ace Collective: Spirit Driven" reviewed by Florence Wetzel

In a 1967 interview with Jazz & Pop magazine, John Coltrane stated: “I know that there are bad forces, forces put here that bring suffering to others and misery to the world, but I want to be the force which is truly for the good." In his lifetime and beyond, Coltrane has inspired artists to infuse their work with this mission, and certainly alto saxophonist and composer Jorge Sylvester can be counted as one of Coltrane's heirs. Spirit Driven is ...

Album Review

Jorge Sylvester Afro-Caribbean Experimental Trio: In the Ear of the Beholder

Read "In the Ear of the Beholder" reviewed by AAJ Staff

Jazz artists often approach Afro-Caribbean music from a reductionist rhythmic standpoint, neglecting the richness of the tradition. But Jorge Sylvester takes care to present the whole picture on In the Ear of the Beholder. Taking various Afro-Caribbean styles and paring them down to a raw trio format (sax/bass/drums), he compels each player to bring something unique to the mix.

Much of the improvisation on In the Ear explores individual traditional styles in step-by-step fashion. “Tambor--The Mix," for example, works its ...

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“...Jorge Sylvester's distinctive alto saxophone sound is imbued with the volatility of Caribbean basin's complex mosaic, transformed and focused by the probing musical linguistics pioneered by the great saxophonists of modern jazz. Jorge's composer's imagination is the matchless structural coherence of his improvisational work.” Ramsey Ameen, 12/2005

“...If Ornette Coleman had be born and reared in Nassau, his music would have sounded like this.” C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz

“ Sylvester's alto work is deeply rooted in bebop but fluent in the most modern of horn vocabularies

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Primary Instrument

Saxophone, alto


New York City

Willing to teach

Advanced only


TEACHING QUALIFICATIONS : * Over 40 years experience - Saxophone, Jazz improvisation, Music Theory, and Composition, and Sound Work. * Private classes and Workshops - Advance students and Beginners. * Experimenting with Caribbean Rhythms and Free Music Art Forms. EDUCATION : * State University of New York College at New Paltz, NY - BS in Music 1980-81 * Creative Music Studio - Woodstock, NY - 1980-81 * National Conservatory of Music - Madrid, Spain - 1978 * University of Panama - 1972 - 1976 * National Conservatory of Music - Republic of Panama - 1972 -1975 TEACHING HISTORY: * Private Saxophone Instruction - Madrid,Spain(1979) New York, USA(1989 - Present), Panama(2007) * East Harlem Music School - Music Theory (1992) * Brooklyn Conservatory of Music - Music Theory, Saxophone (1999-200) * New Jersey Music Education and Advancement Program, NJ PAC (June, 2000)

Clinic/Workshop Information

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Sonny Rollins
Wayne Shorter
Sonny Stitt
Ornette Coleman
saxophone, alto
John Coltrane
Eric Dolphy
Joe Henderson
Jimmy Lyons
saxophone, alto
Charlie Parker
saxophone, alto
Sam Rivers
saxophone, tenor



Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Mayhem At Large - The...

RedZen Records


Jorge Sylvester Ace...

Four (friends Of Unseen Rain)


Jorge Sylvester ACE...

Four (friends Of Unseen Rain)


Spirit Driven

Four (friends Of Unseen Rain)


In the Ear of the...

Jazz Magnet Records


Remember Haiti

From: Spirit Driven
By Jorge Sylvester

To Be With You

From: Spirit Driven
By Jorge Sylvester



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