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Amanda Alvarez

arturo o'farrill afro latin jazz

Afro Latin Jazz Magic with Arturo O´Farrill Orchestra!

arturo o'farrill afro latin jazz

Last Saturday, the lucky lovers of music that got tickets for Apollo Theater were able to see magic on stage: Arturo O´Farrill and his Orchestra put people on their feet.

Arturo was honoring his father, Chico O´Farrill, who 65 years ago composed the acclaimed “Afro Cuban Jazz Suite”. So for the 80th anniversary of the Apollo, the theater commissioned Arturo to compose a review of the piece. After all his life building a career on his own and trying not to be compared to his father, Arturo was facing a hard mission. We can say he succeeded.

With his “Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra”, Arturo went a step forward and displayed a genuine masterpiece. More than 20 people on stage, including several kinds of drums, converted the Apollo Theatre into a celebration of jazz, heart music, and fight. Why fight? Because Arturo also used the occasion to present his just released album The Offense of Drum: a social and politically active call to people of the world.

Arturo explained that drums have been used as political and religious instruments in all cultures, especially in African and American cultures. He wants to make a reflection about how WE, the people, have to stop being silent, have to act, and do something to change this world. In my opinion, those pieces were the more powerful of the concert, especially the interesting rap “They came”.

Two hours of concert made it clear to me that Latin Jazz is in good shape, and I left the Apollo with the wonderful feeling of having been part of a moment that will be legend.


‘The Journey of a Female Comic’ Movie Review


Being a comedian is not easy, being a woman comedian is harder, but if on top of that you are latino and you want to aim at the latino community then it’s almost impossible. This is what Kiki Melendez´s film “The Journey of a Female Comic” is about.

The film is a documentary (or a docu-comedy, as they call it) about Kiki Melendez´s life and career, produced and directed by herself and Erick Crespo. In almost an hour and a half long film they show us in a comic way (sometimes close to telenovela style, sometimes sarcastic, and always self-joke) how this woman became one of the biggest latino comedian and TV hosts in United States and Latin America.

Even if the film is not going to be in the annals of cinema history because of its cinematic value, the documentary is a valuable approach to how the TV industry and in particular Latino markets work. The Latino community in United States is huge, and its purchasing power is even bigger. With those facts, it´s surprising that the entertainment industry doesn’t pay more attention to them, and keeps showing Latinos as only maids and gardeners.

Kiki Melendez was the first Latino comedian to have her own show, she is considered the Latina Oprah Winfrey. And even today, when she´s already showed everything, and received the biggest awards she can get, her career is not a bed of roses. Entertainment is never easy, for anybody.

The story of Kiki is also a beautiful human story of hard work, passion and dreams coming true. She was born in Dominican Republic and raised in New York by her mother (to who the documentary is dedicated to). Knowing nobody and only believing in herself, she made it to the top. But she´s never lost the humility and the simplicity.

In my opinion, the good thing about this film is the heart that it has and its optimistic regard: if you want to do something, you can do it. And this is always an encouraging idea in the times we live in.


Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival is back!


Lovers of Jazz music, here comes the Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival again! From May 4th to May 10th in Harlem’s classic Jazz clubs and theaters you can find a selection of the best Jazz around nowadays. Tickets go from $10 and up, and some of the events are free.


Some highlights of the festival this year include: Arturo O´Farrill and his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, is a can´t-miss show at Apollo Theater. If you want a hint of classic woman vocals, you should go see Brianna Thomas at such a special place as the Abyssinian Baptist Church. The Vijay Iyer Trio will be one of the most special performances the festival prepared this year, featuring Stephen Crump and Marcus Gilmore.

There are plenty of shows for all tastes and pockets. If you want to know more about it, go to their website:


Israel Galván Premieres ‘La Curva’ In NYC


New York lovers of flamenco will be happy to know that the genius Israel Galván will premiere his new show, ‘La Curva’, in the city this March.

The dancer has been part of all kinds of projects with the most renowned people of flamenco and a lot of artists of other disciplines. He´s one of the more prestigious dancers of the new age of flamenco, innovative and brave, a person that is not scared to try different styles. He drinks from the roots of the most traditional flamenco music, and fuse it in this show with contemporaneous music and dance.

You can enjoy his magic at Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts, from Pace University, Thursday March 13th and 14th at 7.30pm.

For tickets and more information:


Spanish Guitarist Paco de Lucia Dies at 66


Flamenco is an orphan today. Paco de Lucia, the most important guitarist of all times, died yesterday in Mexico. He suffered a heart attack while he was in that country with his family.

There are no words to describe how important Paco de Lucia was for flamenco music. He was born in Algeciras (south of Spain) in 1947. His father taught him all what he knew about guitar, and he made him train for hours when he was a kid.

Being still very young, he met Camaron de la Isla, the greatest flamenco singer of the second half of XX century, who lived in La Linea, 15 km away from Algeciras. Both started a brilliant career together, innovating and fusing flamenco with other kinds of music, what back in that time was almost sacrilege. After 10 discs together, they continued their careers separately.

Paco brought the flamenco music all around the world, mixing it with jazz, blues, bossa nova, arabs melodies, rock and any kind of music that he felt it could be mixed with.

So the flamenco world cries today for this loss. We can just hope that his notes keep playing wherever he is now. Here down on earth he does´t have to worry, his trace is too deep to be forgotten.

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Q&A With Diana Vargas, Artistic Director Of Havana Film Festival


Diana Vargas – Havana Film Festival New York (HFFNY)

Q: It´s been a while from the I Edition of your festival, how has it changed through the years?
A: The first year, the festival was a showcase of Cuban films but since its second year HFFNY has been a window for Latin American cinema with a program of classics. Maybe it sounds cliche, but to understand the present you need to look into the past and Latin American cinema has a rich, fruitful history. The program includes also 20 features in competition, awards winning films and many free events in different cultural institutions around the city.

Q: Tell us about some great moments lived at the festival.
A: Each year the festival brings something that we’ll make us smile or roll our eyes for the years to come. However, the most important part is that we always receive emails from the audience telling us how deeply a film touched them or how good was to know of something unknown to them. Directors are also great. They support us, they always want to come back and usually they become friends.


Q: How is the welcoming in NYC?
A: New Yorkers are sophisticated in their taste and always looking for new things. They come to the festival with their eyes open. The response is always amazing. Directors love Q&As because the questions are smart and profound. NY is a place where people are well informed so you can’t present just anything. It has to be of high quality but the last 15 years HFFNY has brought that and our audience trust us.

Q: What are you more excited about this year?
A: We’re paying tribute to Cuban CInema past and present but also we offer a selection of films from Latin America that are very compelling. Stories of immigration form a youth point of view such as La Jaula de Oro from Mexico; stories of feminine redemption such as No Robaras, from Ecuador; stories that constitute the “under worlds” of a place diverse and innescrutable called Latin America, such as Angels & Dust (Panama) or Conducta (Cuba); hilarious films such as Tercera Llamada (Mexico), La Pelicula de Ana (Cuba) or Thrillers like A Wolf at the Door (Brazil). HFFNY has a delegation of 20 directors, actors, producers, parties and many free events.


Aquel No Era Yo, A Spanish Short Film Nominated For Oscar


The short film Aquel No Era Yo, from Spanish director Esteban Crespo, is nominated for Best Live Action Short at the 86th annual Academy Awards. The short film is about an African child soldier and a Spanish woman, their lives come together forever because of a shared dramatic experience.

The film has received a lot of awards and recognition, including the Goya (Spain’s most important awards) in 2013.
The director has a long career in TV and in documentary, as well as several short films. At the present moment he is working on a feature film.

We highly recommend following this short film because the subject cannot be more important and polemic. Sadly it is the reality of 300,000 child soldiers all over the world.

If you want to know more about the film or the director, follow the link below:

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Havana Film Festival is back!


15th Annual Havana Film Festival New York (HFFNY) April 3-11

Lovers of Latino cinema can already get tickets for the Havana Film Festival in New York! In its 15th edition, this festival is getting more prestigious every year. 45 films, as well as short films and documentaries will be screened between April 3rd and 11th, some of them NY or World Premieres, including the latest Lucia Puenzo film Wakolda.

This year the festival honors deceased cuban director Daniel Diaz Torres, who has made films like La pelicula de Ana, Kleines Tropicana o Alicia en el pueblo de Maravillas. In his films politics and society are brought in question in a sarcastic and comic way.

We encourage you to take a look at the films that will be screened in different locations including Manhattan, Queens and Bronx, and give a chance to another way of seeing the world.

If you want to know more about it, this is the link to the website:


Interview With Artur Balder About His Latest Documentary

From left to right: Artur Balder, director of the film, José Manuel Ciria, featured artist, and José María Sanz-Magallón, CEO of Telefónica Internacional USA, esponsor. Photo by Meatpacking Productions / Ambrose Eng

We told you some weeks ago about “Ciria pronounced Ciria”, Artur Balder´s latest documentary. The New York based director of “Little Spain” brings this time a realistic documentary about the renowned Spanish abstract painter Jose Manuel Ciria. Latin Recap brings you this exclusive interview with the Spanish American filmmaker and writer.

Latin Recap: In this film there two aspects: on one hand the art industry, and on the other the artist and his creative process. Is this a deliberate choice?

Artur Balder: Yes, it´s my answer to a structural need. At first, I wanted to analyze the artist from an external perspective: how the others see him. And then from an internal perspective, how he is, how he sees himself and the creative process as close as possible.

LR: What did you learn about the creative process with this documentary?

AB: It´s an industry that depends on the market, its dynamics are very different from others commodities. For example, as an investment objet his consumption doesn´t decrease in recession times, but can increase. Though this is only in the case of renowned and well established artists. For artists in lower levels it’s the opposite, because people don´t want to take the risk and sales from unknown or emerging artists decline.

Regardless of that, doing the documentary I realized that the artist has to make many sacrifices to engage in the market machinery and, ultimately, the market is incompatible with creation. However, the artist needs the market to grow.

LR: Why is the film interesting to the audience?

AB: My film invites the viewer to better understand abstract art from the particular perspective of an artist. Allows you to enter the creative process, I think this is the most interesting, because it attempts to approach the mysteries of creation: all these internal and usually painful phases that can lead to the emergence of a single object which we consider work of art.

You can watch the trailer here:


Ciria Pronounced Thiria


Last week, in the MoMA Museum in NYC, Artur Balder premiered Ciria pronounced Thiria, his new documentary film. This time, the Spanish director, whom was interviewed by Latin Recap about his last documentary Little Spain months ago, made an essay about art through the figure of the Spanish painter Jose Manuel Ciria.

The documentary shows how the creation process takes place in the atelier of the internationally acclaimed abstract painter. Opinions of different critics, experts and art merchants make of the film and essay about how modern art industry works these days, how the work of art is relentlessly related to his context and the experiences and the mood of the author.

The best parts of the film are the honest and naked words of Ciria about his fears and most intimate feelings related to his job and his life, which cannot be separated. There is a real and very human person behind the colorful and disturbing paintings, even if sometimes he looks to be hidden under a bunch of intellectual layers (real or imaginary, from himself of from the critics that sometimes look to need some kind of self-validation).

If you are interested in the industry of art and in the creative process, don’t miss it.

To learn more about the film and watch the trailer visit: