June 2010, Volume 14, Number 3

Cultural Spotlight

trumpeter Terrell Stafford

MDC's free concerts draw record crowds

The Jazz at Wolfson Presents concert series had its most successful year yet, with the highest attendance in its 12-year history. The longest-running jazz series in Miami, Jazz at Wolfson Presents is both free and open to the public.

This season offered a fresh perspective on the jazz scene, with the majority of the musicians being completely new to the concert series.

To commemorate Black History Month, jazz trumpeter Terell Stafford took the stage. Having recorded five albums as a leader and more than 80 as a sideman, Stafford also brought his expertise to his student workshop, which is a cornerstone of the program. Each visiting artist, in addition to performing for the public, spends time with MDC’s music students in an educational setting.

The student workshops focused on small group performing techniques with discussions on the interaction between performers, including how vocalists could communicate better with the rhythm section and how the rhythm section could better accompany the vocalists. In addition to lectures, jamming sessions formed an integral part of the educational series.

”A lot of the artists would just sit in and play with the students in the workshops, and the students would get a real kick out of that,“ said Dr. Michael Di Liddo, founder and director of the series.

In the fall, the Kendall Campus offered its Third Annual Latin Jazz Festival. Jamming together on the same stage were Latin Jazz super stars Arturo Sandoval, Albita Rodríguez, Roberto Perera, MDC’s own Ed Calle and Nestor Torres. Also sharing their great music that night were Richard Bravo, Negroni's Trio, PALO!, Paquito Hechavarría, Cheito Quiñones, Los Herederos, Sammy Figueroa and Edwin Bonilla, among others.

Popular with the public, the Latin Jazz Festival is also a hit among students, with the same acclaimed musicians who appear on the stage then sharing their talents in the classroom in lessons and lectures offered through MDC's Latin Jazz Institute.

The Latin Jazz extravaganza at Kendall continued in the spring when the campus hosted harpist Roberto Perera, who was joined by hand drummer Robert Thomas Jr., guitarist Juan Areco and multi-instrumentalist Jorge Alfano.

During Women’s History Month in the spring, the Jazz at Wolfson Presents series featured jazz vocalist and pianist Kate Reid, who has shared the stage with many jazz greats, including The Manhattan Transfer, Bobby McFerrin and Liza Minnelli. Reid also has worked with Jon Secada as a backup vocalist for his album Amor.

Closing the season was drummer Ed Soph, an internationally recognized author, master teacher and musician who has written books and produced videos on jazz.

Throughout the season, audience size grew as regular and new concert attendees spread the word and community interest was stimulated by advertising.

”We get more and more calls from the community as we advertise. People always ask how much [the concerts] cost and are surprised when they find out that these are free and open to the public. They get very excited about that,“ Di Liddo said.

— NM

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