The Afro Latin Jazz Alliance (ALJA) is dedicated to preserving the music and heritage of big band Latin jazz, supporting its performance for new audiences, and educating young people in the understanding and performance of this important cultural treasure. The Alliance maintains a world-class collection of Latin jazz musical scores and recordings, provides institutional support for the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, and provides education programs for young musicians and new audiences. There exists a large and unique repertoire within the big band genre that requires musicians who are knowledgeable about Latin rhythms, clave, and African-based percussion instruments, as well as modern jazz and swing. The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO) was founded in 2002 by artistic director Arturo O’Farrill to perform compositions of masters such as Machito, Tito Puente, Chico O’Farrill, Astor Piazzola, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Hermeto Pascoal, and others, and to keep this culturally rich tradition alive by continuing to commission new works.In 2007, the ALJO left Lincoln Center to pursue the twin goals of developing new audiences for big band Latin jazz and of creating a robust educational program for young performers. O’Farrill launched the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance (ALJA) in early 2007 to serve as a non-profit organization that can advance both the performance and educational aspects of this uniquely pan-American art form. O’Farrill serves as Artistic Director and works alongside Executive Director Eric Oberstein, who is responsible for all operational and strategic activities. The 17 members of the ALJO are employed both as performers and instructors.
Arts Education Programming:
Now in its fifth academic year, the Afro Latin Jazz Academy of Music (ALJAM) is an in-school residency program dedicated to providing instrument and ensemble instruction to middle and high school students throughout New York City. ALJAM gives students the tools to develop their musicianship and express themselves through music. Members of the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra and other master teaching artists form a core teaching team that works with students twice a week for the full academic year. Students are given instruments to practice and they perform for their peers, families, and communities at annual concerts throughout the academic year.Fat Afro Latin Jazz Cats Beginning in Fall 2010, the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance launched the Fat Afro Latin Jazz Cats, a New York City all-star youth big band, under the direction of Arturo O’Farrill and Jim Seeley, at the famed Greenwich Village jazz club Fat Cat. The ensemble includes some of the city’s finest young musicians who hail from all over the five boroughs. This ensemble performs classic works from the Latin jazz repertory as well as new works by members of the group. The Fat Afro Latin Jazz Cats rehearse weekly on Sunday afternoons and perform at Fat Cat and other venues around New York City. Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra have presented lecture/demonstrations, taught master classes, seminars, and workshops throughout the world for students and teachers of all levels.