Highland Lakes

Country Club and Community Association

Azucar Plays NYC Latino Jazz at Seckler Stage on Apr. 4

On Sat., April 4, eight of New York City’s finest jazz musicians will perform together on Seckler Stage under the name Azucar. What makes their collective appearance anywhere—let alone in Highland Lakes—so special isn’t their numerous Grammy nominations and legendary reputations as support players for luminaries like Miles Davis, Roy Hargrove, Steely Dan, and Paquito D’Rivera, among others. It’s their shared reverence for an old genre from a bygone era, and the rarity with which such events occur in today’s pop centric universe



“The idea for this band is something I grew up with, and something that doesn’t really happen anymore,” explains saxophonist/flautist and bandleader Jay Rodriguez. “This type of band—what people commonly call ‘Latin Jazz’—has its roots in Cuban and Puerto Rican rhythms that migrated to New York City and melded with jazz,” he says. “It’s a movement that started with legends like Dizzy Gillespie and Art Blakey, and it influenced other great jazz legends, like Ray Barretto, Celia Cruz, and Hector Lavoe, who carried the Afro-Cuban torch farther and influenced younger musicians who created a sound that became specific to New York, specifically Spanish Harlem and the Bronx, just like the blues of Chicago or Texas are specific to those regions.”

“This music has a romantic, jazz-oriented sound, with beautiful chords and rhythms, and it’s influenced so much of what we continue to hear in soul, disco, and even rock,” says Rodriguez. “This idiom isn’t about giant trumpets. It takes elements of jazz, soul, be-bop, blues, and R&B, and even some doo-wop, and it’s melded together these different sounds happening in New York City from a Cuban perspective. Latin music became a very indigenous sound in New York City that kept drawing on itself, eventually causing a cultural revolution for whites, blacks and Latinos alike.” But don’t take Rodriguez’s word–come see and hear for yourself.

Azucar, which is led by Rodriguez (Miles Davis, Roy Hargrove, Groove Collective), includes trombonist-violinist Lewis Kahn (Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri), vibraphonist Bill Ware (Steely Dan, Jazz Passengers), pianist Pablo Vergara (Gato Barbieri, Paquito D’Rivera), singer Jorge Maldonado (Sonora Matancera), timbalist Jimmy Delgado (Ray Barretto, Willie Colón), conga player George Delgado (Celia Cruz, Santiago Ceron), and bassist Ray Martinez (Hector Lavoe).

For tickets to Azucar, go to the Club Office, or call (917) 232-2366. Tickets for members-in-good standing and their guests may be purchased at the Club Office (and at the door on the evening of the show, if available) for $15–please bring your member card or member badge. For those who are not part of our Highland Lakes community, tickets are $20 –  cash-only. Visit hlcc.org for more information.

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