“Listening to the exquisite playing and arranging of the Afro Bop Alliance is always an experience. The mix they’ve achieved is so balanced that you never feel that the music is too Latin to be jazz or too jazzy to be Latin.” Paquito D’Rivera
Latin Grammy Award winning Afro Bop Alliance (ABA) is an Afro-Cuban jazz ensemble based in Washington, DC, who was received Latin Jazz Album of the Year at the 9th Annual Latin Grammy Awards in 2008 for the recording “Afro Bop Alliance, featuring Dave Samuels,” which was released on the Heads-Up label. This recording was also nominated for a Grammy in the same category that same year.
ABA was founded and is led by drummer Joe McCarthy. The band is comprised of first call jazz and Latin jazz players from the Washington, DC and NYC, and includes Luis Hernandez (tenor saxophone), Tim Stanley (trumpet), Vince Norman (alto saxophone), Victor Provost (steel pan), Harry Appelman (piano), Tom Baldwin (bass) and Roberto Quintero (percussion). Collectively they perform with some of the greatest names in the business including Paquito D’Rivera, Richard Bona, The Smithsonian Masterworks Jazz Orchestra, US Navy Commodores Jazz Ensemble and Dave Samuels.
The music of ABA has long been inspired by the great be-bop tradition, married to the rich rhythmic stylings of Afro-Caribbean music and is composed by the members of the band and arranged by Vince Norman.
Afro Bop Alliance has also recorded and performed as an 18 member big band that plays from their own extensive catalogue of charts. The big band library is arranged by Dan Drew and Vince Norman, with additional compositions added through collaborations with Roland Vazquez, Oscar Stagnaro, Dave Samuels and the Caribbean Jazz Project and many others.
The Afro Bop Alliance has been featured at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Duke Ellington Jazz Festival, The Silver Spring Jazz Festival, The Provincetown Jazz Festival, The WC Handy Jazz Festival, Blues Alley, Bethesda Blues and Jazz, Rams Head On Stage with Paquito D’ Rivera, The Jazz Educators Network International Convention (JEN), The Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC), The University of Florida, Georgetown University, George Mason University, University of Maryland, West Chester University, Rowan University and The Smithsonian’s Jazz Appreciation Series, among many others.
Guests who have recorded and or performed with the band include Paquito D’ Rivera, Poncho Sanchez, Arturo O’ Farrill, Dave Samuels, Roland Vazquez, Luis Perdomo, Luques Curtis, Michael Mossman, Ray Vega, Antonio Hart, Oscar Stagnaro, Samuel Torres and Alex Norris.
Afro Bop has released five recordings to date: Encarnacion, Camino Nuevo, Afro Bop Alliance-featuring Dave Samuels, and Una Mas. The latest recording, Angel Eyes, debuting on Zoho, received a 4.5 star rating in Downbeat Magazine. “Everything works on Angel Eyes, making this a must-have album for collectors of inventive Afro-Cuban jazz.”
The 2014 New Music USA Grants program has awarded the band’s next recording, Joe McCarthy’s Afro Bop Alliance Big Band presents the Music of Roland Vazquez, Paquito D’ Rivera and Friends an $8000 grant. Of the 1,174 projects received, this project is one of 57 awarded and now published on newmusicusa.org.
In addition to their Latin Grammy, ABA has received a total four Wammie Awards (Washington DC Area Music Association) two for Best Latin Ensemble, one for Best Latin Recording and one Best Big Band Recording.
Active in education, Afro Bop Alliance has led numerous clinics/master classes around the country at both the collegiate and secondary school levels, including Rowan University, Shenandoah Conservatory, Florida Atlantic University, Georgetown University, George Mason University, Washington College and West Chester University. The music of Afro Bop Alliance is featured in leader/drummer Joe McCarthy’s educational Afro-Cuban big band play-along series published by Alfred Music.
Joe McCarthy – Drumset, Percussion
Grammy Award winning drummer, producer and bandleader Joe McCarthy has lead a diverse career which has taken him from Symphony Orchestra and Big Band, to Afro Cuban, Bebop, and beyond. Joe is the leader/founder of Afro Bop Alliance, an Afro Cuban Jazz Ensemble based in the Washington DC area. The band’s 2011 release, UNA MÁS, on OA2 records follows Afro Bop Alliance, released in conjunction with Dave Samuels and the Caribbean Jazz Project on Heads-Up International, winner of the 2008 Latin Grammy for Latin Jazz Album of the Year and nominated for the 51st Grammy Awards in the same category. The band’s 2 previous releases, Encarnacion and Camino Nuevo have received critical acclaim, worldwide. Joe has performed and or recorded with: Roland Vazquez, Paquito D’ Rivera, Oscar Stagnaro, Samuel Torres,The Caribbean Jazz Project, Eddie Daniels, Slide Hampton, Pat LaBarbera, Wayne Bergeron, Linda Oh, Luis Perdomo, Antonio Hart, Poncho Sanchez, Dave Samuels, Arturo O’Farrill, Michael Mossman, Ray Vega, Jimmy Bruno, Michael Formanek, Mitch Seidman, Luques and Zaccai Curtis, Mundell Lowe, Alain Mallet, Christian Howes, Roberto Quintero, Boris Kozlov and Arturo Stables.
Harry Appelman – Pianist
Jazz pianist and educator Harry Appelman has performed on concert stages on five continents. He has been chosen three times to participate in U.S. State Department music tours overseas for the Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad program (formerly the Jazz Ambassadors) — to South and Central America in 2002, to Eastern Europe, Turkey and Cyprus in February 2007 and to South Asia in March 2009. He performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland in July 2009, and also played concerts and clinics in Egypt in February 2008 with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, under the direction of David Baker. Mr. Appelman has toured the United States and Canada with the Woody Herman Orchestra (under the direction of Frank Tiberi) and the Artie Shaw Orchestra (under the direction of Dick Johnson). He was a finalist in both the 1987 and 1988 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competitions (finishing second in 1988) and one of three prizewinners in the 1989 Great American Jazz Piano Competition.
Luis Hernandez – Saxophones
A native of Miami, Luis began his musical career on the saxophone at the age of 14. In 1987, his young talent was recognized as he was admitted into the New World School of the Arts and had the opportunity to perform alongside jazz greats such as Ira Sullivan and Freddie Hubbard. While still in high school, Luis worked steadily in the south Florida area playing in a variety of musical settings.
In 1991, Luis matriculated at the University of North Texas where he played in the internationally acclaimed “One O’clock Lab Band. During his three and a half years in this great ensemble, Luis had the opportunity to perform with world-renowned artists such as the Michael & Randy Brecker, Jon Hendricks, Louie Bellson, and Gerry Mulligan, as well as record six CD’s.
In 1996, Luis joined the U.S. Navy Band “Commodores” (no, not with Lionel Ritchie!) as tenor saxophonist and featured soloist. Luis has performed at seven International Saxophone Symposiums playing with James Moody, Dick Oatts, Nick Brignola, Lew Tabackin, Gary Smulyan, Arturo Sandoval and others. He has also worked with Keter Betts, Loston Harris, Leslie Ughams and is a member of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra.
Other honors include being a semi-finalist in the 2002 Thelonius Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition.
Tim Stanley – Trumpet & Flugelhorn
Trumpeter Tim Stanley has been with Afro Bop Alliance since it’s formation in 2002. A second generation musician, Stanley cut his teeth playing everything from polka to Motown in his hometown of St. Louis. After attending Eastern Illinois University, Tim enlisted in the US Navy as a musician in 1997. Stanley quickly established himself as one of the most sought after trumpeters in Washington, D.C. In addition to Afro Bop, Tim plays with the Unified Jazz Ensemble and the U.S. Navy Commodores Jazz Ensemble. Stanley has performed and recorded with many masters and luminaries, including Chris Potter, Branford Marsalis, Jerry Bergonzi, Eddie Daniels, Paquito D’Rivera, Dave Samuels, Arturo O’Farrill and many others.
Tom Baldwin – Bass
Bassist, composer, and educator, Tom Baldwin was born and raised in Baltimore, MD. After earning a BM in Jazz Studies at Ithaca College, he returned to the Baltimore – Washington metropolitan area and is now among the most in-demand bassists of the region. In 1995, Baldwin was the second place finalist in the Thelonious Monk International Bass Competition. Since that time, he has had the opportunity to work with a slew of prominent jazz artists, including instrumentalists Eric Alexander, Gene Bertoncini, Stanley Cowell, George Garzone, Tutti Heath, Fred Hersch, Brian Lynch, Harold Mabern, James Moody, and James Williams, as well as vocalists Michael Feinstein, Eartha Kitt, Bernadette Peters, and Kenny Rankin.
He has performed at such venues as Blues Alley, The Kennedy Center, The Meyerhoff, Strathmore, The Library of Congress, and Wolftrap. An active teacher and clinician, Tom is the jazz bass instructor at the University of Maryland, College Park, and UMBC.
He is a regular faculty member at the Maryland Summer Jazz camp, and has been a clinician or adjudicator for various Jazz festivals and workshops at the collegiate and high school level.
Victor Provost – Steel Pan
Victor Provost transcends the expectations of instrument and genre. With appearances at major venues throughout the world (including Shanghai Concert Hall, Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater, the Umbria Jazz Festival, and the Kennedy Center), he has been meticulously solidifying his reputation as a master of the steel pan instrument, crafting a unique voice and an improvisational style to be reckoned with. Provost’s ability to extemporaneously weave through complex harmony with conviction, while being thoughtful and creative, often elicits the statement “I didn’t know a steel pan could do that”. With a strong foundation in bebop, a modern sensibility, and deep roots in Caribbean music, he is one of the most versatile and innovative pannists in the world. Since his move from the Virgin Islands to the U.S. in 1999, Provost has had recorded, toured, and performed with countless award-winning groups and renowned artists such as Hugh Masakela, Paquito D’Rivera, Dave Samuels, Nicholas Payton, and Joe Locke to name a few.
Along with a demanding performance schedule, Provost is an Adjunct Professor of Music at George Mason University, and an advocate for music education through the steel pan.
Vince Norman – Saxophone
Vince Norman, the son of saxophonist Ray Norman, who played with the big bands of Claude Thornhill and Charlie Barnett and with Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, has been exposed to music all his life. He started playing saxophone at age 11, started playing professionally at age 16 and has been going nonstop ever since.
In 1988, Vince joined The U.S. Army Field Band’s Jazz Ambassadors. He played jazz tenor sax with them for 15 years and has played concert tours in Europe, Japan, India, Mexico and Canada and has played in 49 of the 50 states. He has performed with such notables as Arturo Sandoval, Clark Terry, Phil Woods, Butch Miles, Marvin Hamlisch, Toots Thielmans, Marvin Stamm, Jamey Aebersold, Tommy Tune, Hal Linden, The Four Aces, The Four Freshmen, The Temptations and even Joan Rivers. He has also performed with the National Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony and with the Cincinnati Pops at several venues including Carnegie Hall. After his time with the Jazz Ambassadors he transferred to the full time arranging staff for The U.S. Army Field Band where he spent his last nine years in the army before retiring in 2012. He currently performs extensively in the DC/Baltimore area on saxophone and keyboards