poster for residency by Aruan OrtizRESIDENCY FEATURES RETURN OF GUEST ARTIST

The University at Albany Department of Music is pleased to present a residency featuring noted Cuban-American jazz pianist and composer Aruan Ortiz from March 5-7, 2013. Reprising his highly successful 2011 guest artist residency, Ortiz returns for a broad slate of creative offerings.  All events will be open to the public and will take place in the Main Theatre of the UAlbany Performing Arts Center on the uptown campus.

Workshops in musical improvisation will be presented on Tuesday, March 5 from 4pm to 6pm and Wednesday, March 6 from 2pm to 4pm. Interested participants are encouraged to bring a musical instrument or just simply their voice. All levels of musical background are welcome; no previous experience with improvisation is necessary. The workshops will offer a non-judgmental setting where participants are encouraged to take chances and make mistakes to make new discoveries.  There is no charge for participation in the workshops which are part of an ongoing series of improvisational programming directed by UAlbany professor Bob Gluck. 

Gluck observes: “Musical improvisation is an important skill for all musicians in the 21st century. Its techniques can be learned, and the skills can be enhanced, building upon people’s natural spontaneity, intuitive grasp of group dynamics, and ability to listen closely and respond.  Anyone can improvise since improvisation is a subconscious skill exercised by all people throughout their life for everyday activities. Examples include navigating a car through traffic; a pedestrian’s careful steps on a snowy surface; a basketball player running a play, or a lawyer’s courtroom exchange.”

There will also be an open rehearsal on Tuesday, March 5 from 7pm to 8:45pm with Ortiz and the University-Community Symphony Orchestra. The focus will be on developing a conducted improvisation.

The residency culminates in a concert on Thursday, March 7 at 7pm which will feature the University-Community Symphony Orchestra in a conducted improvisation with Ortiz and a duet performance with Ortiz and Gluck.  Tickets are $8 for the general public and $4 for students, seniors & UAlbany faculty/staff and may be purchased through the Performing Arts Center Box Office.  For further information, contact the Box Office at (518) 442-3997.

A critically acclaimed Cuban pianist, award-winning composer, producer and educator, Ortiz was named named “the latest Cuban wunderkind to arrive in the United States” by BET Jazz. He portrays his music as an architectural structure of sounds incorporating contemporary classical music, Afro-Cuban rhythms and improvisation as primary material for his compositions. Ortiz’s work is influenced by contemporary classical composers such as Schoenberg, Ravel and Bartok as well as by traditional Afro-Cuban music and jazz greats Bud Powell, Art Tatum and Thelonious Monk.  His jazz career took off as a sideman in Barcelona and Paris, and later in the U.S. with Wallace Roney, Antoine Roney, Terri Lyne Carrington, Greg Osby, Cindy Blackman, Esperanza Spalding, Gary Thomas, Wayne Krantz, Rasheed Ali and Stefon Harris. His work as a composer includes chamber music and music for contemporary dance. He has six recordings, all well received by critics. Ortiz has received a number of awards such as Latin Jazz Corner’s Arranger of the Year 2011 for his contribution on the album, “El Cumbanchero” (Jazzheads 2011) by flutist Mark Weinstein; Best Jazz Interpretation, Festival de Jazz in Vic, Spain (2000); and Semifinalist, Jas Hennessy Piano Solo Competition, Montreux, Switzerland (2001).

Bob Gluck is a pianist, composer, writer and Associate Professor of Music at UAlbany. He has released three recordings of music for jazz trio and three of electronic music. Karl Ackerman (All About Jazz) wrote about his work: “As a composer and player, Gluck ranks with the likes of Andrew Hill and Cecil Taylor.”  Gluck’s current quartet (with Eddie Allen, trumpet; Christopher Dean Sullivan, bass; Tani Tabbal, drums) has been performing repertoire of Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi band.  His recent book, “You’ll Know When You Get There: Herbie Hancock and the Mwandishi Band” (University of Chicago Press, 2012) has been included as a “Best of 2012” in Spin magazine and the New York City Jazz Record.

Ortiz and Gluck’s 2011 performance was recorded and recently released as “Textures and Pulsations” on Ictus Records.

Funding for the residency has been provided by the University at Albany Diversity Transformation Fund, University Auxiliary Services, the University at Albany Foundation, and the Departments of Music and Africana Studies.