Joe McCarthy and New York Afro Bop Alliance Big Band Upwards


  1. Upwards
  2. JBen Jazz
  3. Caravan
  4. Five for Elvin
  5. Nostalgia in Time
  6. Isabelita
  7. Afternoon in Paris
  8. Positano

The New York Afro Bop Alliance Big Band:

Drums, band leader: Joe McCarthy
Saxes: Matt Hong, Kristy Norter, Ben Kono, Dave Riekenberg, Eden Bareket
Trombones: Sara Jacovino, John Yao, Sam Blakeslee, Jen Hinkle
Trumpets: Nick Marchione, Raul Agraz. Bryan Davis, Dave Smith
Guitar: Vinny Valentino
Piano: Manuel Valera
Bass: Boris Kozlov
Percussion: Samuel Torres

“Joe McCarthy’s ascent as one of today’s strongest practitioners of Nuyorican Afro-Latin jazz continues with the irrepressible Upwards. The drummer steers The New York Afro Bop Alliance Big Band through an enticing program of originals and three standards with sparkling energy and finesse. Like Art Blakey, McCarthy allows his combo to become a vehicle for bandmates to exercise their compositional skills. Pianist Manuel Valera wrote the punchy title-track, which comes along with a sashaying motif that recalls Wayne Shorter’s “Beauty and the Beast”. Valera, however, loads “Upwards” with zigzagging contrapuntal lines and rubato rhythmic shifts, on top of which alto saxophonist Matt Hong and trombonist John Yao issue dynamic solos. Meanwhile, guitarist Vinny Valentino’s “J Ben Jazz” showcases the band in a more pastoral mood while retaining an infectious rhythmic pulse.

With the emphasis on compositions and impressive solos from ensemble players, it’s tempting to underestimate the leader’s instrumental prowess. McCarthy certainly doesn’t hog the spotlight, but his rhythmic agility and accord with percussionist Samuel Torres can’t be ignored.” – John Murph, DownBeat Magazine

“On his second ZOHO release, drummer Joe McCarthy leads his impressive, NY based large ensemble through two vintage jazz numbers and six colorful pieces written by current and past band members. While there are many big bands on the scene, there none quite like this. That the band can move quickly from angular, intervallic runs to lush, pensive moments is a testament to the virtuosity of its performers and the artistic suppleness of its leader.” – Kabir Sehgal

“Congratulations to Joe and his band mates for creatively pushing Latin big band jazz forward in exciting new directions!”   –Rich DeRosa

Additional Press for Upwards
Midwest Record
The Drum Shuffle
Sea of Tranquility
Step Tempest