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Radio Host Inspires Latin Jazz Concert with Grammy Nominee Arturo O'Farrill


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Bethlehem Township, PA - The community has the opportunity to hear Latin jazz greats when grammy nominated, jazz pianist and musical director Arturo O'Farrill performs with his Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra on Saturday, September 6, at 7:00 p.m. at the Lipkin Theatre in Kopecek Hall at Northampton Community College (NCC) in Bethlehem Township, Pennsylvania. Tickets are $20 general admission, $10 for students. NCC is located at 3835 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem Township, Pennsylvania. For more information and tickets, call 610-861-5324.

Local DJ, Danny Villablanca, host of Tiempo Latino Latin Jazz radio show airing Thursdays from noon - 2:00 p.m. on 91.7 WMUH, of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsyvlania, proposed the idea of the concert to the college. While studying radio programming at NCC, Villablanca interviewed O'Farrill for a class project. (For more information on Villablance, please see biography below.)

O'Farrill is the musical director for the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, formerly of Jazz at Lincoln Center, where the group was a resident orchestra from 2002 until last year when it branched out to pursue other educational and performance opportunities. To that end the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance was created as a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the preservation , furthering and education of Afro Latin jazz. The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra's debut album, “Una Noche Involvidable," earned a Grammy award nomination in 2006, and has toured nationally and internationally.

Since their departure from Jazz at Lincoln Center, the orchestra has performed in the prestigious Megaron concert hall in Athens, The Bern Jazz Festival, The Rialto Concert Hall in Atlanta and with their new performance partner New Yorks' acclaimed Symphony Space they have presented their own concert season ending 2008 with Musica Nueva - their celebration of latin jazz throughout the Americas. They have also established a residency in the schools program with weekly private and ensemble classes for inner city kids.

Their recently released CD “Song for Chico" (Zoho Records) has received unanimous critical acclaim and in the 2008-2009 season, the band will be performing their second season of concerts in their new home, Symphony Space.

A recognized composer, Mr. O'Farrill has received commissions from Meet the Composer, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Philadelphia Music Project, and The Big Apple Circus. He has also composed music for films including Hollywoodland and Salud. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, classical pianist Alison Deane, and their sons, Zachary and Adam, both accomplished musicians, and students at Laguardia High School for the Performing Arts. He is currently on the faculty of SUNY Purchase, and the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

In 1995 Mr. O'Farrill began directing the band that preserved much of his legendary father's music, Chico O'Farrill's Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, which has been in residence at Birdland, New York City's famed nightclub, for the past 13 years. Chico O'Farrill is considered one of the master architects of Afro Cuban Jazz. Born in Cuba, Chico O'Farrill studied music in the United States, and worked as an arranger for Benny Goodman. His extensive career highlights include composing “The Afro Cuban Jazz Suite" recorded with Charlie Parker, Flip Phillips and Buddy Rich; composing for Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Ringo Starr, David Bowie, Gato Barbieri and countless others.

Danny Villablanca, host of Tiempo Latino, TiempoLatinoLatinJazz.com

Danny Villablanca, host of Tiempo Latino, grew up with Latin Jazz as the soundtrack for his life in the late 1960's and the 1970's in the South Bronx. With a father from Chile, a mother from Nicaragua, and a childhood in a Puerto Rican neighborhood in New York, it's understandable that Latin music was his first love. His sister loved to dance and brought home the albums of Ray Barretto, Eddie Palmieri and Mongo SantaMaria. On a small transistor radio they listened as Symphony Sid introduced the world to the Latin bands of the day. Symphony Sid also still talked about jazz and played Mingus, Parker and Monk. In Danny's diverse neighborhood conversation often turned to jazz, and black friends, some who were musicians, played albums of Hubbard, Benson and others. This led Danny to listen to the likes of Wes Montgomery, Cal TJader, Chick Correa, Billy Cobham, John McLaughlin and Weather Report.

Fast forward many years later to a nice life in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, with a wife and two kids at home, an older son also into music, and a good job delivering the mail. His love of Latin Jazz never faded, and his discontentment with music on today's radio was only growing. Danny talked about his idea for a Latin Jazz radio show to a customer on his mail route, who was a DJ, and gave him a few CDs. The customer loved the music, and encouraged him to get it on the air. Danny then took a radio workshop and a course in audio mixing at at Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which he'd been driving past on his way to work for years. A class project led him to contact Grammy-nominated Arturo O'Farrill, son of Chico O'Farrill, who graciously said yes to an interview. Ten questions turned into a five-hour conversation. Impressed with his work, a teacher recommended Danny approach a larger college with his idea for a Latin Jazz radio show.

Soon Tiempo Latino was on the air at 91.7 WMUH, at Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania. Danny quickly began getting calls and emails from across the country from folks wanting copies of the show (now available via podcast). He focuses on playing music by Latin musicians, and showing the diversity of Latin musicians from Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and more. He's producing a Latin jazz concert at Northampton Community College on September 6, featuring the internationally touring Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra with Arturo O'Farrill, formerly of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Far in time and technology from the transistor radio where it all began, Danny now shares his love of Latin Jazz and a lifetime of knowledge. His listeners are with both new fans and folks like himself who were lucky enough to have known it all their lives.

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