On Wednesday, May 14, at 12:30 p.m., the Hudson Riverfront Performing Arts Center, Inc. (HRPAC) will present their final concert of this season's UBS Atrium Series, which takes place at the Atrium at 1000 Harbor Blvd. in Weehawken.
Headlining the final free lunchtime concert will be the internationally renowned Edmar Castaneda Trio, and special guest celebrated vibraphone player Joe Locke, who will perform with the trio.
"You have the opportunity to see four world class jazz artists," said Bruce Sherman, executive director of the HRPAC. "These are two [jazz musicians] who are at the top of their game and have the unique ability to move their audience."
The UBS Atrium Series is a lunchtime concert held once a month by the HRPAC during the fall, winter and spring months. This is the fifth season of the concert series.
"The programming is very diverse and it can be described as a world music series," said Sherman.
Jazz soul in a Colombian harp
Edmar Castaneda is a rising star in the jazz world with his signature use of the Colombian harp.
"It's going to be a mix of traditional Columbian jazz with a harp and mixed with trombone and percussion," said Castaneda. "We mix a lot of Brazilian Latin American jazz."
Castaneda blends the beauty of his traditional cultural folk music with the upbeat and vivacious tempos of jazz, and has touched audiences around the world with his unique style.
"When I was little I started dancing folk music and the Colombian flute harp is the main instrument, and I fell in love with the harp," said Castaneda, who has been playing the harp for about 20 years.
"When people think of the harp they think of angelic soft music, but you can groove and have fun with rhythms on the harp too," said Castaneda. "In the left hand you play bass and on the right hand you play the melody."
Castaneda and his family came to the United States from Bogota, Colombia in 1994, and after finishing high school he continued his musical training at a jazz school in Long Island, where he studied the trumpet, but his first love was always the harp.
Castaneda has played in many different places throughout Europe, South America, and within the United States. This will actually be Castaneda's second time performing in Weehawken. Several years ago he played with famous Paquito D'Rivera and his band.
"It's a fun audience [in Weehawken] and I'm always proud anytime I play," said Casteneda. "[The audience] is going to have a lot of fun and they are going to see a different side of the harp. We're going to have a party with the angels."
Castaneda is currently working on a second untitled album with his trio, which includes Marshal Gilkes on trombone and David Silliman on percussion, scheduled to be released by June. The first, "Cuarto de Colores" (Room of Colors) was released two years ago. The group is also planning an upcoming European tour.
Castaneda has performed at many notable venues like Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and others.
Sharing the spotlight
Joining Castaneda and his trio on stage will be acclaimed vibraphonist Locke.
A respected and internationally celebrated jazz musician in his field for 30 years, Locke was honored by the Jazz Journalists Association as "Mallet Player of the Year," and has more than 25 recordings as a band leader and almost 100 albums as a guest artist.
Castaneda and Locke first met at the Umbria Festival in Italy a couple of years ago, and collaborated for the first time a few months ago at the New York City Jazz Standard.
"Edmar is a phenomenal musician, and a very giving and generous band leader," said Locke. "Edmar's music is completely unique, and whether you are into jazz or not, every one walks away from an Edmar Castaneda performance blown away."
After speaking with Bruce Sherman, Locke was also impressed with HRPAC, and was honored to be a part of a series that has brought such diverse cultural performances to North Hudson.
"[Sherman] seems like such a great person and support is so important to music and to culture," said Locke. "His enthusiasm and dedication to bring culture to the people made me so happy to be a part of it. I am really honored to be a part of this series."
Locke has several engagements throughout the summer and will perform with Castaneda at other venues as well.
"I am looking forward to an enjoyable summer," said Locke. "We are going to be doing the Tango Festival in Massachusetts and the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Israel, and we're are doing a series of concerts in the United States and Europe. I really enjoy working with his group."
As for this Wednesday's concert, he says [the audience] can just expect some really exciting and beautiful music.
World class performances
Past concerts have included performances by the nationally celebrated Proteus Ensemble quintet, the Mamadou Diabate Ensemble featuring the 2005 Grammy-nominee Mamadou Diabate, as well as the New York based Klezmatics.
"We try to expose people to as many musical influences as possible, so the programming is very diverse," said Sherman. "[The Atrium] is also a very good space to present concerts and we wanted to reach out to the working community."
According to Sherman, the hour-long lunchtime concerts can attract anywhere from 100 to 200 people depending on what is being presented and available space.
Sherman said that while they work towards building a permanent art center on the waterfront, they want to continue to present concerts and programs to locals.
In addition to the annual Atrium series, HRPAC also hosts a series a summer concerts every year. Their main sponsors include UBS, Hartz Mountain Industries, and The Hudson Reporter, Inc.
"We have always prided ourselves on presenting artists on the top of their game and known on a national and international basis," said Sherman.
The concert begins at 12:30 p.m. and is open to the public. For more information, visit: www.hrpac.org or call the concert hotline at (201) 716-4540.