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Community League of the Heights
and Jazz Power Initiative present...

Latin Jazz In The Heights

at Plaza de las Américas, 175th and Broadway
Featuring musicians curated by Jazz Power Initiative


These performances are made possible thanks to the generous support of

NewYork- Presbyterian and NYC Department of Small Business Services. 


Special thanks to WBGO for supporting local talent!

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Featuring set break performers curated by Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA)

Sound for Latin Jazz In The Heights: Baldo Sounds


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Sunday, June 9th - Sandy Gabriel Jazz Quintet

Sandy Gabriel, a musical marvel hailing from Nagua and honed in the vibrant city of Puerto Plata, stands as a luminary figure in the realm of jazz. Armed with a degree in Composition, Arrangement, and Musical Production from Pedro Henriquez Ureña UNPHU University, his journey began under the tutelage of his father, the esteemed Dominican saxophonist, Socrates Gabriel. From the tender age of 14, Sandy's passion for jazz ignited, leading him on a path of mastery across multiple instruments, including saxophone, flute, and synthesizer.


His illustrious career is studded with accolades, from clinching the 2003 National Music Award for Jazz to being honored at the prestigious The Soberano Awards (formerly Casandra Awards) in 2012 for "Best Concert of the Year." Sandy's virtuosity has graced international stages, from the Borinquen Jazz Festival in Puerto Rico to the European-Latin American Music Festival alongside icons like Ivan Lins and Arturo Sandoval. A beacon of Dominican jazz, Sandy Gabriel continues to captivate audiences globally with his unmatched talent and unwavering dedication to the art form.

Annette Aguilar is a multi-percussionist specializing in Latin percussion, and a recording artist, educator, producer and bandleader. Born in San Francisco to Nicaraguan parents, Aguilar began playing the drums in sixth grade after seeing The Beatles on television. By sixteen she was performing with well-known artists such as Chepito Areas (formerly of Santana), Cal Tjader, and Sheila E. She studied classical music at San Francisco State University and earned a master’s degree in music from the Manhattan School of Music as well as a master’s degree in music education at Lehman College of the City University of New York. In addition to serving on the faculties of The Jazz Power Initiative, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Celia Cruz High Bronx High School of Music, Lehman College, Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (WHEELS) in Washington Heights, NYC, and several clinics in the New York Area. She has toured around the world, worked in television and film, and has numerous recording credits as a side person. Annette has worked on several Grammy Award-winning Broadway shows, including Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights, Paul Simon’s The Cape Man, Daryl Waters’ Street Corner Symphony, The Chronicle of a Death Foretold, a book by Gabriel García Márquez directed by Graciela Danielle, and Ntozake Shange’s Besty Brown directed by Emily Mann.

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Photo credit:  Jan Goldstoff

Saturday, June 22nd - Steven Oquendo's Ocho Con Afinque

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Steven Oquendo, a native New Yorker, embodies the essence of versatility in the realm of music. As a professional trumpeter, Latin jazz big band leader, composer, arranger, and educator, his impact resonates far and wide. Armed with a master’s Degree in Applied Music and Music Teaching, alongside a B.S. in Music from Lehman College, Steven's commitment to both performance and education is unwavering. Currently, he serves as the Associate Conductor of the esteemed All City High School Music Program's inaugural Latin jazz ensemble and holds the role of Music Director at Pelham Preparatory Academy. In 2009, he established the Steven Oquendo Latin Jazz Orchestra (SOLJO), renowned for its innovative fusion of Afro-Cuban, Latin jazz, salsa, and mambo classics.


Ocho Con Afinque is educator Steven Oquendo’s latest musical endeavor. Ocho Con Afinque is an electrifying 8-piece salsa ensemble that is the personification of Latin jazz talent, born in the heart of NYC. This all star lineup consists of NYCs finest musicians who ignite stages with their infectious rhythms and dynamic performances, and captivate audiences with their fusion of traditional salsa and innovative flair. Each member brings a wealth of experience and passion for their craft. Their commitment to excellence and dedication to preserving the essence of Latin jazz makes them  a driving force in the contemporary music sceneOcho Con Afinque are: Trumpet: Steven Oquendo; Trombone and bandleader: Hommy Ramos; Tenor Saxophone & Vocals: Alberto Toro; Congas: Carlos (Carly) Maldonado; Timbales: Bobby Allende Bongo & Vocals: Sergio (Chino) Ramos; Bass: Jerry Madera; Piano: Arturo Ortiz

Puerto Rican Bassist Alex "Apolo" Ayala-Berríos is a dynamic force in the music world, embodying the spirit of the multi-lingual musician. Hailing from San Juan, Puerto Rico, Ayala-Berríos infuses his Afro-Caribbean heritage with his extensive knowledge of both Latin music and Jazz languages, resulting in a unique and captivating sound. With over two decades of professional experience, he has collaborated with an impressive array of Latin music giants and world-renowned Jazz musicians, including Eddie Palmieri, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Tito Nieves, and many others. His versatility shines as he effortlessly navigates through various musical styles, from Swing and Bebop to Bomba, Plena, and beyond.


A graduate of the prestigious Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico, where he studied under legendary bassist Eddie Gomez and saxophonist David Sanchez, he now leads two ensembles: "The Bámbula Project," an Afro-Puerto Rican Jazz Quartet, and "The Afro-Puerto Rican Jazz Big Band." With two albums as a leader under his belt and ongoing work as a sideman and musical director, Ayala-Berríos is a true star in the world of Latin Jazz.

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Community League of the Heights (CLOTH) is a multi-service, community development organization dedicated to supporting and empowering the economically disadvantaged residents of Washington Heights.Throughout its 70-year history, CLOTH has been dedicated to finding solutions to the problems of poverty and disinvestment that confront the neighborhood. CLOTH was recently awarded the MacKenzie Scott’s Yield Giving Open Call’s awardees, a $1 million grant given to organizations working with people and in places experiencing the greatest need in the United States. 

Jazz Power Initiative  (JPI) is a non-profit, 501 (c) (3) organization founded in 2003, with the mission of transforming lives through jazz arts education and performance. Jazz Power Initiative serves over thousands of New Yorkers and visitors annually - students, teachers, artists, seniors and general audiences, ages 8-80+, to promote youth development, and build more creative and inclusive communities through jazz music, theater and dance education and performance.

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