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The Afri-Garifuna Jazz Ensemble

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The Garifuna Jazz union has its beginnings in Los Angeles California when jazz vocalist Lucy Blanco began researching and learning more about her Garifuna heritage in 2008. Through her research she learned about the work of prominent Garifuna artists like the late Andy Palacio and Aurelio Martinez. She began working on the concept of blending the Jazz genre with the Garifuna language and percussive rhythms with her then music director the late Michael Andrews. The first piece recorded in this concept came in May 2009 with a demo recording of Wayne Shorter’s “Speak No Evil”. The instrumentation was simple with Hartford born pianist/MD Warren Byrd, Lucy Blanco on vocals and Ricardo Guity Seattle based Garifuna musician/percussionist on drums. The concept continued to develop as Lucy made her way to what is considered the Jazz Mecca, her native hometown of New York City in August 2009. There she met and had the pleasure of working with some of the best jazz musicians in the city. The ideal blend for this sound would be traditional Garifuna musicians and jazz musicians bringing what they have to the table and create a new sound with familiar jazz standards, Traditional Garifuna songs as well as original compositions. The concept came to fruition with a performance @ Garage Restaurant in Greenwich Village during Garifuna Heritage Month with Benito Gonzales on Piano, Ariel De la Portilla on Bass, Henning Stumm on Drums and Garifuna Musician James Lovell on Vocals, Guitar and Garifuna Drums. The Garifuna Jazz sound continued to shift as James Lovell and Lucy Blanco collaborated and the movement morphed into what we now call The Afri-Garifuna Jazz Ensemble.
Afri-Garifuna Jazz originated at 1474 Bushwick Ave in the Bushwick and Ocean-Hill areas in Brooklyn, New York in the Spring of 2011. This new music art form has a unique and distinct sound, because it incorporates the traditional Garifuna rhythms such as Punta, Paranda and Hungu hungu, etc. Afri-Garifuna Jazz is Jazz music interpreted from a Garifuna perspective (viewpoint). It uses Garifuna instruments such as the Maracas, Garifuna Drums, Turtle-Shells, Conch Shells, and the Garifuna Language along with piano and bass to acquire the distinct sound.

The Afri-Garifuna Jazz Ensemble was first introduced to a well received audience in Mount Vernon at on May 7th 2011. The founding members are Garifuna musician from Belize James Lovell (lead percussions, vocals & guitar) Jazz vocalist of Garifuna descent from Honduras Lucy Blanco (lead vocals) and Harlem-born musician Terrence Butler (piano) One of the many reasons this brand new music genre is in existence is to bring to awareness of the endangered language of the Garifuna People that was proclaimed a “Masterpiece and Oral Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO in 2001. Afri-Garifuna Jazz will be another platform where the history and language of the Garifuna will be safeguarded through music. We also endeavor to create music that touches and soothes the human spirit; promotes unity, peace & harmony through the universal language of music.
We are an ensemble band and have worked with various talented musicians. Our current members are Evalou Vossmerbauemer on Violin, Gary Fritz on Percussion, Hilliard Greene on Bass and Dre Barnes on Piano.
The history of African-Americans, Latin America, the Garifuna people and many other cultures in this world share a similar history where there has always been a struggle to maintain freedom, liberty and preservation of its culture, traditions and language. It is an awesome testament to our Creator when people can come together and spread a positive message through music.
Afri-Garifuna Jazz has been conceived and it’s only a matter of time before it spread all over the world. They are currently recording their debut album. Get ready to listen, enjoy and appreciate another music genre promoting and advocating for the Garifuna Nation and The World.

For Booking info Contact
Lucy Blanco 917-841-1290