Latin Jazz is in Our DNA

Though Latin jazz has always been present at Summer Fest, it’s enjoyed a greater focus in recent years thanks to the efforts of two key San Jose Jazz supporters: Arturo Riera and the Castellano family.

Riera’s connection to San Jose Jazz has turned into a deep commitment to the organization’s mission. He became a board member roughly ten years ago and served as Board Chair from 2006-2008. A Latin jazz aficionado, Riera had previously brought dozens of bands to the Bay Area from Cuba and the greater Caribbean. When an opportunity to help book Summer Fest’s Latin acts came up, he gladly volunteered. In his spare time, he also blogs as “Mister Latin Jazz.”

The Castellano Family Foundation strengthened Summer Fest’s Latin focus as title sponsor of the Castellano Latin Stage from 2007 to 2012. In 2013, San Jose Jazz focused its efforts on spreading world class Latin jazz onto five festival stages, including spectacular performances from Dafnis Prieto Proverb Trio and Yosvany Terry.

For our 25th anniversary in 2014, our Fest-wide Latin acts included legend Jerry González & the Fort Apache Band, recent Grammy® winner Pacific Mambo Orchestra, and Puerto Rican outfit Viento de Agua. Such top-notch talent comes thanks to renewed generosity from the Castellano Family Foundation, which supports the value of Latin jazz spreading throughout the festival.

As Foundation President Carmen Castellano explains, “I love now how [Summer Fest has] progressed so that those Latin jazz artists are not confined to a small stage. They’re featured artists for the festival.” In addition to being long-time Summer Fest attendees, Carmen and husband Alcario are also San Jose Jazz members.

Though Summer Fest’s Latin jazz focus continually sheds light on the deep level of talent and commitment to Latin jazz in our backyard, Riera points out that its inclusion helps celebrate jazz’s great diversity as an art form. “As people listen,” he notes, “they realize that this is not just Latin music; this is our human legacy. When you share the same experience and come to love the same things, all of a sudden, those things that made us different now unite us.”