Elio Villafranca Free Concert In Da Bronx On May 28th At 6pm - Debuts New Project: Don't Change My Name - Presented By The Bronx Arts Ensemble


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Elio Villafranca writes and plays with passion and a deep understanding of musical nuance, with chops equal to some of the greatest pianists Cuba has ever produced.
—DownBeat Magazine
May 28th, 6pm at Barretto Point Park
Debuts New Project: “Don't Change My Name"
Presented by the Bronx Arts Ensemble
Featuring Dreiser Durrutthy Bombale (vocal/percussion)

Elio Villafranca: piano/compositions
Freddie Hendrix: trumpet/flugelhorn
Sam Dillon: clarinet, soprano/tenor saxophones
James Burton III: trombone
Peter Slavov: bass
Yorgos Maniatis: drums
Richard Padron: electric guitar
Gabo Lugo: percussion
Mark Sherman: vibes
Special guest: Students of Bronx Charter School for the Arts singing and dancing.

“Don't Change My Name" represents many years of research into the Arara music of Cuba, tracing its roots to the religion and culture of Dahomey, in present day Benin, and telling the story of Florentina Zulueta, an important Arara figure in Cuba and the Cuban slave rebellions. Florentina was born in Dahomey in the 17th century. At just age 15, she was one of many who were captured and transported to Cuba to be sold as a slave. Her original name was “Tolo-Ño," but at the time of her capture in Dahomey, her name was changed to “Na-Tegué." “Na-Tegué" was sold to Julián de Zulueta y Amondo, a notorious slave owner in the Perico region of Matanzas, Cuba. After branding her flesh, he claimed her as his property and forever changed the name of the young “Na-Tegué" to Florentina Zulueta.

Hunt's Point was once a Slave Burial Ground, and we are delighted to bring this music to a place with such sacred history.

2019 Grammy Award Nominee Elio Villafranca is also being considered for the prestigious French Académie Charles Cros Award with his 2-CD recording Cinque (ArtistShare). The Grand Prix du Disque is the premier French award for musical recordings.

The award was inaugurated by Académie Charles Cros in 1948 and offers prizes in various categories. The categories vary from year to year, and multiple awards are often made in any one category in the same year.

Upcoming Dates

  • June 4-12: CINQUE | Australia with Adrian Medina
  • Aug. 10: CINQUE performance at Springfield Jazz Fest.
  • Aug. 11: CINQUE performance at San José Jazz Fest.


Elio Villafranca: piano
Vincent Herring: alto saxophone + soprano saxophone + flute
Greg Tardy: tenor saxophone + clarinet
Todd Marcus: bass clarinet
Freddie Hendrix: trumpet
Steve Turre: trombone + bass trombone + conch shells
Ricky Rodriguez: acoustic bass
Lewis Nash: drums
Arturo Stable: percussion
Jonathan Troncoso: percussion

About Cinque

Cinque 2019 Grammy Award Nominee for “Best Latin Jazz" Album

Cinque is a five movement suite inspired by the story of Joseph Cinque, who in 1839 led a successful revolt aboard the slave ship La Amistad, days after being sold and transported to a sugar plantation in Cuba.

Elio's intention is to share music the same way he experienced it growing up in Cuba, by giving access to the context and sources that inspired his original compositions. This way of sharing, creates a better bridge with the listener to a more meaningful understanding and connection with music and culture.


“Elio's music is passionate. A brand new application of ancient ways." —Chick Corea

“Pianist and composer Elio Villafranca is an inspired and visionary musician. I am profoundly moved by Elio's vision and musicianship. He is a treasured member of the family here at Jazz at Lincoln Center." —Wynton Marsalis

Photos credit: Kasia Idzkowska

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