New York style, New Orleans spirit and Puerto Rican sizzle meet Afro-Cuban rhythm at Montgomery County Community College

Cuban-American jazz band Ninety Miles (from left) David Sanchez, Christian Scott and Stefon Harris. Photo Courtesy of Ninety Miles/Jimmy Katz.

The Cuban-American jazz band Ninety Miles—featuring New York’s Stefon Harris on the vibraphone, Puerto Rico’s David Sanchez on the saxophone and New Orleans’ Christian Scott on the trumpet—will light up the stage at Montgomery County Community College as part of its “Jazz Cubano” series on Saturday, Dec. 14, at 8 p.m. in the Science Center Theatre, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell. Tickets cost $30 for general admission and $15 for children under age 12. Visit www.mc3.edu/livelyarts or call 215-641-6518 for tickets and information.

The collaboration of these three musicians, who come from very different backgrounds, is the outgrowth of their recording an album together in Havana over the course of a week. The result is a truly unique collection of songs that blend traditional bebop with Latin and Afro-Caribbean influences.

“To be able to go into a country like Cuba, where things are unfolding and developing and you’re seeing it in its pure state…it’s really special,” recalls Harris.

A four-time Grammy nominee, Harris has been heralded by The Los Angeles Times as “one of the most important young artists in jazz.” He tours worldwide with his band Blackout and the San Francisco Jazz Collective and teaches at New York University.

The trio’s experiences in Havana were also captured on film in a full-length documentary expected to air on BBC Worldwide.

“It’s one of the most captivating places I’ve ever visited,” says Scott. “Even though they’re enduring a very hard experience, really hard times, when people start playing music in Cuba it’s almost like a catharsis for their entire community.”

A graduate of the prestigious New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts and Berklee College of Music in Boston, Scott has been recognized as a rising musical star. Invited by President Barack Obama to perform at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in New York, he has made high-profile appearances on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and joined selected tour dates with Radiohead front man Thom Yorke’s super-group Atoms for Peace.

The trio’s upcoming performance will also reflect the authentic Cuban flavor gained by recording in Havana with such talented local artists as pianists Rember Duharte and Harold-Lopez Nussa.

“The more willing we are to accept and appreciate another culture, the richer our own culture is going to be,” says Sanchez.

Growing up in Puerto Rico, Sanchez played drums, percussion and tenor saxophone before enrolling at Rutgers University on a music scholarship. He quickly became an integral part of the New York jazz community and joined Dizzy Gillespie’s tour in 1991. He has since released critically acclaimed albums and continues to juggle a busy tour schedule with participation in jazz education programs.

The College’s Jazz Cubano series has been funded by a Philadelphia Music Project grant from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

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