Take Off Collective members Ole Mathisen (sax), Matthew Garrison (bass) and Marko Djordjevic (drums) became friends at Boston’s Berklee College of Music as the second millennium was winding down. Since then, they have built careers as bandleaders; sidemen to world renown notables as well as unique and innovative instrumentalist.
Their eclectic tastes, penchant for honest and unpremeditated improvisation and a thirty-year strong friendship brought them to a musical situation different from any other they have taken part in to date.
Neither leaders nor sidemen, they are real-time composers and performers of music that is invented on stage in front of an audience. Their music has been described as virtuosic, adventurous, intense, innovative, disorienting, provocative, engaging…
Each Take Off Collective concert is a moment ceasing, supremely intimate, music-transcending event.
Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts and ShapeShifter Lab present: Fandango at the Wall - The ShapeShifter Sessions
A Concert Performance Film recorded live at ShapeShifter Lab in Brooklyn in November 2020 and remotely from Vera Cruz and Tijuana, Mexico and Valencia, Spain.
Arturo O’Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra
With Special Guests:
The Villalobos Brothers
Julia del Palacio and Victor Murillo
And remotely recorded from Vera Cruz, Oaxaca and Tijuana:
Patricio Hidalgo, Ramon Gutierrez, Tacho Utrera, Wendy Cao Romero, Yara Hidalgo, Fernando Guadarrama, and Jorge Francisco Castillo
Directed by Taylor Krauss
In May of 2018, Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO) joined more than 50 artists from throughout the world and gathered at the Tijuana-San Diego border for an exuberant musical celebration called Fandango Fronterizo. They filmed a documentary, recorded an album, and wrote a book about the experience. At the end of 2020, on a chilly November week, in the midst of a global pandemic, Arturo and the ALJO gathered together again, this time in New York City to create an exclusive concert performance film once again with many of the original guest artists, but this time connected to them remotely from locations as far away as Vera Cruz, Mexico and Valencia, Spain. Featured guests include Mandy Gonzalez, The Villalobos Brothers, Son Jarocho masters Patricio Hidalgo, Ramon Gutierrez, Tacho Utrera, Wendy Cao Romero, Fernando Guadarrama and Fandango Fronterizo founder, Jorge Francisco Castillo
This program is a co-production of the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts and ShapeShifter Lab.
From Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra founder, Arturo O’Farrill:
“How could we not respond to the pandemic except in the manner in which Jorge Francisco Castillo responded to the foolishness of border politics. He used the very elements of fencing, chicken wire, attack dogs and border police to celebrate community and unity. We had to rise to the call and use face masks, temperature checks and isolation to affirm humanity and life. It is what Black Lives Matter protesters also did, they took the murder of black men and women and bent the very elements of hatred to unite globally in solidarity across racial, ethnic, national, and gender lines. This is what humans of conscience do. They deny the usurpers, the circumstances, the very elements of suffering and walk boldly into the future we wish to live in.”
From filmmaker Taylor Krauss:
“As an audience we are gifted intimate witness to a kind of unprecedented musical moment. And in the urgency with which ALJO performs together in the same space for the first time since March 2020, we also feel a deep sense of community and trust welling out of the orchestra at a time when New York was being hit the hardest. This historic performance transmits all the richness of the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra sound and so much more borne out of a year of political turmoil, global pandemic, and musical isolation.”
About the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra
Arturo O’Farrill – Artistic Director/piano
- Reeds: Alejandro Aviles, Adison Evans, Ivan Renta, Jasper Dutz, Larry Bustamante
- Trumpets: Seneca Black, Adam O’Farrill, Bryan Davis, Walter Cano
- Trombones: Rafi Malkiel, Abdulrahman (Rocky) Amer, Xito Lovell, Earl McIntyre, Jennifer Wharton
- Rhythm Section: Vince Cherico/drums, Bam Rodriguez/bass, Ivan llanes/congas, Murph Aucamp/percussion. Gabriel Chakarji/piano
The Villalobos Brothers
- Ernesto Villalobos (violin & vocals)
- Alberto Villalobos (violin & vocals)
- Luis Villalobos (violin & vocals – recorded remotely from Valencia, Spain)
- Sergio Ramirez (guitar)
Julia del Palacio – zapateado
Victor Murillo – jarana
Mandy Gonzalez – vocals (New York)
Son Jarocho Fandango at the Wall Allstars (recorded In Vera Cruz, Oaxaca & Tijuana, Mexico)
- Patricio Hidalgo/jarana & vocals
- Ramon Gutierrez/Requinto & vocals
- Tacho Utrera/Leona & vocals
- Wendy Cao Romero/quijada, vocals & zapateado
- Yara Hidalgo Sandova/Zapateado & vocals
- Jorge Francisco Castillo/jarana & vocals
- Fernando Guadarrama/vocals
A star son jarocho musician and for good reason. He has a velvet voice that will melt your heart and stay with you for days. He was born in Apixita, Veracruz, and is the grandson of Arcadio Hidalgo, one of the most iconic son jarochomusicians of the twentieth century. Patricio started playing the guitar when he was just a boy and has since followed the path that his grandfather blazed as a songwriter and master soloist. As a professional musician, Patricio has been a member of Grupo Mono Blanco; Grupo Chuchumbe; Grupo Quemayama; and Grupo Afro Jarocho, and he has recorded on at least six albums. He has also performed with Baroque ensembles and toured throughout Europe.
Ramon Gutiérrez Hernández
He was raised in Tres Zapotes, Veracruz. At a young age, he was introduced to the requinto, which he has played for over thirty years. In his music, he is able to channel the great spirits of son jarocho veterans and masters, while also forging ahead and cultivating a modern sound. As an educator, he has taught workshops on jarana, requinto, zapateado. He has recorded at least twelve albums, five of which are with his group Son De Madera, which he started in 1992. And one of his albums was in collaboration with the Smithsonian. He collaborated on a project “Piano Xarocho” with a pianist that fused the music of Colombia and Venezuela with son jarocho. Ramon has also toured extensively throughout the US, from Seattle and Chicago to New York and Washington, DC. He has also toured throughout Latin America and Europe. He is a master luthier and builds his own instruments. He is currently based in Xalapa, Veracruz.
Born in El Hato, Veracruz, Tacho is a renaissance man: He is a talented musician, carpenter, and luthier who learned to make instruments from his father and grandfather. He plays the leona, requinto, and jarana and has enjoyed a thirty-year career as a son jarocho musician. Tacho has been a member of the bands Grupo Mono Blanco and Los Utrera. And during his career as a musician, he has toured the US, Latin America, and Europe, sharing the son jarocho tradition with the world. He has also recorded on several albums including “En el Hueco de un Laurel” and “Con Utrera yo Aprendí.” Tacho is reserved and stoic but his music is soul-stirring. He is married to Wendy Cao Romero and has one son, Miguel Utrera, who is also a musician.
Wendy Cao Romero
Her career as a fandango dancer began in 1987. She is a key member of the Utrera family, who promotes their artistry and shows throughout El Hato. In addition, she has produced numerous field recordings of older son jarochomusicians. She worked as a radio producer for thirteen years. As an educator, she has also put out a book that details the dance steps for jarocho dancers. She attends and participates in son jarocho workshops. As part of her musical career, she has been a member of the Zacamandu group since 1992 and “Los Utrera” since 1993. She also plays the jarana. Beaming with a broad smile, Wendy infuses her performances with a buoyant personality. She teaches textile arts in El Hato “Mujeres Tejedoras,” an organization of thirty women.
Fernando Guadarráma Olivera
Hailing from Cordoba, Veracruz, he is an expert at performing ten-line verses known as “Decimas in Son Jarocho.” The son of a physician, Fernando has lived in Oaxaca for nearly thirty years and has played the jaraba for twenty-eight years. He has also taught poetry for son jarocho music for some twenty years. As an artist, he has toured poetry festivals throughout the US and Latin America. He also is the director of a poetry and son workshop in Tapacamino, Oaxaca, since 2005. His poetry has been extensively published and recorded. In October 2017, he performed at the fortieth anniversary concert for Grupo Mono Blanco at the Fine Arts Hall in Mexico City.
Born in 1959, Jorge Castillo grew up in the City of Juarez, Mexico. He was inspired at an early age by his grandfather, Beto – who was a professional jazz & orchestral trumpet player. Jorge is a professional classical guitar player, having received his first training at home at age nine. He graduated from the University of Texas El Paso. During this time at UTEP, Jorge worked at the music library where he developed an interest in the librarianship career. Later, he became a professional librarian for more than 30 years, until 2017. During this time at the library, he was always involved in music; drawn to performing in some way, whether with friends or family. In 2006, Jorge was introduced to the fandango culture but it was not until the summer of 2007, after hearing the group Quemayama, from Veracruz, that he got a much better grip of its essence. This drove him to become the founder of the Fandango Fronterizo in 2008, held annually on the border of Tijuana and San Diego.
The Villalobos Brothers
The Villalobos Brothers have been acclaimed as one of today’s leading Contemporary Mexican ensembles. Their original compositions and arrangements masterfully blend and celebrate the richness of Mexican folk music with the intricate harmonies of jazz and classical music. The Villalobos Brothers deliver an intoxicating brew of brilliance, cadence and virtuosity that awaken the senses and mesmerize the listener. Ernesto, Alberto, and Luis Villalobos use their violins and voices to redefine contemporary Mexican music. The group’s virtuosic performances have delighted listeners from Latin America, India and Russia to Lincoln Center’s American Songbook, Carnegie Hall and the Latin Grammy Awards. Since 2015, they have exclusive representation in the US and Canada, from SRO Artists. Also, they have been Artist in Residence at Lincoln Center, 92nd Street Y, Latino Arts, and the New York Botanical Garden’s record-breaking exhibit Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life. Today, the Villalobos Brothers continue to collaborate with legendary musicians, including Grammy winners Arturo O’Farrill, Antonio Sanchez, Eduardo Magallanes, Dan Zanes, and many others.
Mandy Gonzalez possesses one of the most powerful and versatile contemporary voices of our time. She is currently starring in the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton”. She is best known for her emotional portrayal of Nina Rosario in the Tony Award winning, Lin-Manuel Miranda Broadway musical “In the Heights”, a role she originally created Off Broadway at 37 Arts and which received a Drama Desk Award for Best Ensemble. She starred as Elphaba in the Broadway production of “Wicked”, blowing the roof off of New York’s Gershwin Theatre each night as she belted out signature song “Defying Gravity” and for which she was rewarded with a Broadway.com Award for Best Replacement. Other Broadway roles include Princess Amneris in the Elton John and Tim Rice musical “Aida” and the Broadway show “Lennon” where she portrayed multiple roles including that of Beatles’ icon John Lennon. Mandy made her Broadway debut in Jim Steinman’s “Dance of the Vampires” starring opposite Michael Crawford.
Mandy received an OBIE Award and overwhelming critical praise for her performance in the Off-Broadway production of “Eli’s Comin’”, directed by Diane Paulus and based on the music and lyrics of renowned singer-songwriter Laura Nyro.
Equally at home on the big and small screen, she has appeared in “Across the Universe” directed by Julie Taymor, “After” starring opposite Pablo Schreiber and “Man on a Ledge” with Sam Worthington. Most recently, Mandy had a recurring role on the ABC drama thriller “Quantico”. On Sunday evenings, television viewers can find her working at The White House on the CBS breakout hit “Madam Secretary”.
Mandy can be heard as the voice of Mei in Disney’s “Mulan 2” and on recordings of the original Broadway cast album of “In the Heights”, “Kerrigan-Lowdermilk Live” and “The Man Who Would Be King”.
Last year, Mandy debuted her solo concert Love, All Ways. She performs concerts in prestigious venues across the U.S. and around the world and has started working on her first solo album with plans for a release this fall (2017).