Its acronym is ALJO and it’s mission is as unique as its full name — Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra. ALJO, founded in 2002 by artistic director Arturo O’Farrill, is dedicated to preserving the music and heritage of big band Latin jazz.
It preserves the music and heritage of the genre through performances — introducing new generations to the classic music — and teaching children the instruments and rhythms of the music that stands in a class by itself. In 2007, the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance (ALJA) was launched to serve as a non-profit organization that can advance both the performance and educational components of its mission.
One way to draw in new audiences is to creatively pair the music with poetry. The event is billed as the Musica Nueva 5: Big Band Poetry Jam & Beyond. Held Mother’s Day weekend in New York City, the concert features a spoken word jam curated by poet, musician, and visionary Angel R. Rodriguez, Sr., and includes a lineup of guest poets, who will be accompanied by the ALJO.
A DJ helps the orchestra and poets mix “the classic sound of boogaloo, mambo, and salsa with hip-hop, acid jazz, and alternative improvisation in this celebration of the Latino community and the Nuyorican poetry movement!”
In the featured video, the founder of ALJO, Arturo O’Farrill, describes what the evening is all about while a variety of participating musicians and poets share their feelings about fusing two important aspects of Latin culture into one event.