Local High School Students Return to Annual Roberto Ocasio Latin Jazz Camp

Roberto Ocasio Latin Jazz Camp Artistic Director and Artist-In-Residence Bobby Sanabria performing with students at a 2016 camp.

Sun 6/10-Fri 6/15

The Roberto Ocasio Latin Jazz Camp is the only such high school resident workshop in the country dedicated solely to the study and performance of Latin jazz. The 14thannual camp takes place this week at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

The weeklong event culminates with a free public Latin jazz concert at Fri 6/15 @ 7pm at the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Gartner Auditorium.

“Students are immersed in this special-niche music genre, its history and culture,” said Roberto Ocasio Latin Jazz Camp Camp executive director Bev Montie, who is also president of the Roberto Ocasio Foundation.

“Nowhere else can students experience this total immersion to learn these unique skills for current use and preparation for college scholarships and future careers.”

The weeklong instruction is led by Roberto Ocasio Latin Jazz Camp artistic director and artist-in-residence Bobby Sanabria, as well as Cleveland Jazz Orchestra’s Eddie Montalvo, local music educators, professional musicians and international special guest presenters. The daily grind includes classes, rehearsals, jam sessions, presentations and field trips.

“Students experience diversity and multiculturalism, enhancing their world view and broadening their perspectives while also building bridges, creating friendships and understanding through the music,” Montie said.

During the camp, students, who range from eight graders to seniors with basic a music background and ability to read music, will be exposed to various styles of Latin rhythms, including samba, bossa nova, bomba xicá, yuba and merengue. Then even learn about the culture through dance and get to experience the food.

“The spirit of the camp is to teach and expose this great American art form to high school music students,” Sanabria said. “Most people don’t know that the Latin jazz tradition was born in 1939 in New York City with the Machito Afro-Cubans.

“This big band was directed by Machito’s brother-in-law Mario Bauzá, who first had the idea of combining jazz arranging technique with Afro-Cuban rhythms. Thus it’s a U.S. creation and as American as apple pie or Jimi Hendrix. If jazz is America’s greatest art form, then Latin jazz represents all of the Americas. So that means it represents all of us.”

Over the years Sanabria has witnessed countless teenagers leave the camp inspired. When asked what’s the best compliment he ever received from a student, Sanabria said, “That it changed their lives. Now that’s what it’s all about.”

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