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NM Jazz Latino Orchestra playing at Hispanic Cultural Center

Each year, the New Mexico Jazz Latino Orchestra comes together for one performance.

Frankie Vazquez

This year, it will be held at the National Hispanic Cultural Center for the third straight year.

“It’s a two-part night,” says vocalist Jackie Zamora. “The first part is straight-up Latin jazz. We want to feature this night as being a dance party. The second part will have Frankie Vazquez, who is coming from New York and will be performing salsa tunes.”

Vazquez, born in Salinas, Puerto Rico, began performing with his own band at his father’s restaurant at age 16, as a conga player and then as a lead singer. A year later, he had played in three orchestras around Puerto Rico, and subsequently was invited to New York to perform on his first recording with Fuego 77. He now has over 20 album collaborations to his credit and has performed all over the world.

In addition to featuring Vazquez, C├ęsar Bauvallet, Doug Lawrence, Bobby Shew, Zamora and special guest Mike Williams are scheduled to perform.

Mike Williams

Williams is formerly the lead trumpeter with the legendary Count Basie Orchestra and one of the most powerful high-note trumpet players in music.

Zamora says the NMJLO will showcase the extraordinary musical talents of artists who are now New Mexico residents, while bringing in international guest artists to introduce audiences to traditional instrumentation and rhythms from Latin America and show how jazz fusion can provide a harmonious and exciting blend of ancestral and contemporary tones.

The orchestra is made up of 11 performers.

“We’re making sure that the material that we present really honors the art of Latin jazz,” Zamora says. “We strive to present a quality product.”

Getting the logistics together is also a hurdle that Zamora has to deal with because each of the performers is also working on other projects.

“Because we’re a large orchestra, it’s a challenge to book any show,” she says. “The NHCC is very accommodating and gave us a shot two years ago, and they’ve been successful. We’re making the performance an annual event. It’s a time to come out and dance.”