Latin Artists Bring Multicultural Flavors To Atlanta Jazz Festival

MAY is one of my favorite months of the year and why..??  The Atlanta Jazz Festival will present “31 days of pure jazz” for all of us to enjoy.  I will be a “busy bee” covering A LOT of the events & keeping you in the know!!  Here’s an exciting performance update 🙂

AJF 2013 Banner - artwork by Charly Palmer

Latin Artists Bring Multicultural Flavors To Atlanta Jazz Festival

Atlanta, GA — “This year’s Atlanta Jazz Festival will truly be a multicultural event,” enthuses Camille Russell Love, Director of the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs. “We have artists coming in from around the world to perform. We are especially excited to present three groups with Hispanic roots who will be playing jazz flavored with Afro-Cuban rhythms, Salsa, Caribbean influences and vibrant Latin beats.  Join the party and come hear the magnificent music of the Miguel Zenón Quartet, Río Negro and the Aruán Ortiz Quartet at the festival in Piedmont Park over Memorial Day Weekend, May 25-27.”

Miguel Zenón Quartet will perform on the Georgia Lottery International Stage on 5/27 @ 6:30 pm

Miguel Zenon Quartet

Widely considered one of the most groundbreaking and influential saxophonists of his generation, Miguel Zenón has also developed a unique voice as a composer and as a conceptualist, concentrating his efforts on perfecting a fine mix between Latin American Folkloric Music and Jazz.  Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Zenón has released seven recordings as a leader including Rayuela (2012) and the Grammy Nominated Alma Adentro (2011). As a sideman he has worked with jazz luminaries such as The SFJAZZ Collective, Charlie Haden, David Sánchez, The Mingus Big Band, Bobby Hutcherson, Fred Hersch, Kenny Werner and Steve Coleman.  For more information about Miguel visit:

Río Negro will perform on the Georgia Lottery International Stage on 5/25 @ 5 pm

 Rio Negro

As the percussionist, Broderick Santiago is the rhythmic foundation of Río Negro.  He’s also the bandleader.  His family is originally from Peñuelas, Puerto Rico, but Santiago grew up in New York.  A seasoned percussionist, he has shared the stage with great musicians including Giovanni Hidalgo, Myra Casales, Patato Valdés, Jimmy Delgado, Jonathan Butler, and others. As a music educator and a dance instructor, Santiago strives to educate people about the African roots prevalent in Latin music. Most recently, Santiago performed on the soundtrack to the HBO hit movie, Lackawanna Blues.

Kevin “Quino” Johnson, raised in Boston, Massachusetts, comes from a musically talented family. He was encouraged to perform by his older brother, Richard Doron Johnson, who plays jazz piano for Wynton Marsalis, among others.  Johnson’s father, who plays piano in church, has always supported his musical ambitions. While spending time in Spain and the Dominican Republic, Johnson studied music and developed his progressive writing style. He has shared the stage with such icons as Clark Terry, Quincy Jones, Agustín Díaz de los Muñeuqitos de Matanza, Jon Faddis, Antonio Hart, and George Bohannan. Surrounding himself with music of all forms, especially Latin and Caribbean influences, he uses his music as a means of expression, fusing the old with the new and the unexplored. Johnson is pianist/bassist and musical director of Río Negro.  For more information about Río Negro visit:

Aruán Ortiz Quartet will perform on the Georgia Lottery International Stage on 5/25 @ 3:30 pm

Aruán Ortiz


Aruán Ortiz is a critically acclaimed Cuban pianist, an award-winning composer, and a solid producer and educator, both on the New York scene and internationally.  Named “the latest Cuban wunderkind to arrive in the United States” by BET Jazz, the classically trained violist and pianist from Santiago de Cuba simply considers himself a curious person who loves music. His music is an architectural structure of sounds, incorporating contemporary classical music, Afro-Cuban rhythms and improvisation. Since arriving in New York in 2008, Aruán has made five recordings, all well received by the critics. Alameda (2010), received four stars in Jazzwise Magazine (U.K.), and was reviewed as “a sophisticated outing of modern jazz.” The modern jazz effort, Orbiting (2012) received 4.5 stars from Downbeat Magazine. His latest CD is Banned in London (2012). Bill Milkowski from JazzTimes Magazine recently proclaimed Aruán’s work as “the arrival of a major new talent.”

As a composer, Ortiz has received commissions from the Woodwind Quintet Ensemble of Santiago de Cuba; Música de Camara Orchestra in New York City; Oyu Oro Folkloric Dance Company in New York City; and YOUME & Milena Zullo Ballet in Rome.  Ortiz has played, toured or recorded with Esperanza Spalding, Joe Lovano, Terri Lyne Carrington, Mingus Big Band, Cindy Blackman-Santana, Don Byron, Lenny White, Greg Osby, and Wallace Roney, among others.  For more info visit:


During the Atlanta Jazz Festival over Memorial Day Weekend (May 25-27), Piedmont Park will be open from 11 am to 11 pm daily. Admission is FREE. Piedmont Park is conveniently located in the heart of midtown Atlanta. The family-friendly atmosphere will include a KidZone area, sponsored by Publix Super Markets, with games, inflatables and activities. Shopping will be available in booths displaying unique art, clothing and jewelry.  A variety of food vendors will tempt your taste buds with BBQ, gyros, burgers, Caribbean foods and more!

Sponsors for this year’s festival are PNC Bank, The Coca-Cola Company, the Georgia Lottery, Celebrity Cruises, Publix Super Markets, Bank of America, England Piano, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, Federal Home Loan Bank-ATL, MARTA, Loews Atlanta Hotel and id8. Media partners include: the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists, Atlanta Daybook, Candid Jazz Blast, Black Enterprise, iRock Jazz,, 1380 News & Talk WAOK, V-103, In Contact, Atlanta Inquirer, Atlanta Tribune,, Majic 107.5, JazzTimes, Rolling Out, WOWNOW and WRFG 89.3 FM.

The 36th Annual Atlanta Jazz Festival is presented by the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs, a division of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs.  The Atlanta Jazz Festival is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural organization whose mission is to educate and entertain a diverse audience of jazz fans and to nurture the next generation of jazz musicians. Join us on Facebook at AtlantaJazzFestival , download our new mobile app for iPhone and Android, and visit the official web site at for the latest schedules, news and information.

Pics provided by Atlanta Jazz Festival



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