Then and Now: Jazz Cubano

Montgomery County Community College



Poncho Sanchez and band. Image courtesy of Montgomery County Community College.


Omar Sosa. Photo by Massimo Mantovani.


Ninety Miles. Photo by Jimmy Katz.

Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) ended a multi-year exploration of the influence of African culture on New World music with Then and Now: Jazz Cubano, a series of concerts and programs that focused on the Afro-Cuban influence in jazz. While this influence goes back to jazz's earliest days, many scholars have marginalized the history of Afro-Cuban jazz. In response to a dearth of research on the subject, and in an effort to engage Montgomery County's expanding Latino population, MCCC contextualized the music in this series with panel discussions, film screenings, and podcast interviews with visiting ethnomusicologists. The concerts took place in the fall of 2013 and featured Poncho Sanchez's Cubano Be Cubano Bop, a tribute to the legacy of "Dizzy" Gillespie and "Chano" Pozo, central players in the development of Afro-Cuban jazz; Ninety Miles, a group that blends traditional bebop with Latin and Afro-Caribbean influence; and the Omar Sosa Afri-Lectric Experience, which blends African and jazz textures, along with electronic elements.