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Roberto Ocasio Latin Jazz Project entertains at CMA Garage Grooves

By Arooj Ashraf, La Prensa Correspondent


Latin jazz blasted through the speakers and echoed in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s parking garage as enthusiastic guests showed off their Latin grooves on August 15, 2008. More than 400 people attended the free Garage Grooves summer jazz series, presented by CMA.


The Roberto Ocasio Latin Jazz Project performed a collection of songs, some composed by the late Roberto Ocasio who founded the band. Musical Director Eric Dregne said the band’s music is rooted in jazz and drives its influence from the likes of George Gershwin but it is also embraces a fusion of Latin salsa and mambo. Roberto Ocasio’s work and legacy is still appreciated through his musical works.


“He was loved by everyone,” said Sol Shack as he danced his heart out. “Roberto was a fantastic performer, composer and director and the band is still wonderful because they are following his vision,” Shack said.

 María Pleva dances with a dance instructor from All About Dancin’ in Cleveland.
Photo by Arooj Ashraf.  


Professional dancers enhanced the evening with beautifully choreographed performances of cha cha, ramba, and others. Samara McCullough, a teacher at All About Dancin’ [www.allaboutdancin.net], even gave impromptu lessons to guests and encouraged others to step onto the dance floor.


María Pleva was delighted by the music and dance performances. She praised the dancers saying they personified the soul of Latin dance. She is a fan of the Museum and enjoys the summer performances each year. “This is absolutely wonderful; we need the culture back in our lives,” she said.


The Garage Grooves exposes guests to the area’s best and diverse jazz ensembles. The summer concert series is a 15 year tradition that normally blossoms in the Museum’s courtyard. This year, the concerts were moved to the garage roof due to phased renovations which will be completed in 2012. [Admission to permanent galleries is free.]


“The Garage Grooves is for the community to come out and enjoy the museum and the performances,” said Susan Watiker, Associate Director of Advertising and Promotions. Watiker said patrons can look forward to a fantastic Artistic Luxury: Fabergé, Tiffany, Lalique exhibition beginning October 19, 2008 (thru January 18, 2009).


For the first time since the 1900’s World’s Fair in Paris the exquisite collection of jewelry and luxury goods from three prominent designers: Peter Carl Fabergé, Louis Comfort Tiffany, and René Lalique, will be displayed together.

CMA organized the exhibition and will display over 300 pieces collected from 50 international including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Joan and Melissa Rivers among others. The exhibition will only be displayed twice—in Cleveland and then at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.

The next Garage Grooves is “Swing,” on Friday, August 29, 2008, with music by the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra.


For more information about the Cleveland Museum of Art and its events, call

1-888-CMA-0033 or visit:  www.ClevelandArt.org.









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