On Friday December 4th, 2009 Sammy Figueroa was honored to be included in an historical and momentous concert at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida. Larry Rosen presented, as part of his Jazz Roots Series, An Evening with Dave Grusin who performed music from his many film soundtracks, from Gershwin and from his very special and exciting arrangements of Leonard Bernstein's 'West Side Story'. Joining Dave onstage were Patti Austin, Jon Secada, Gary Burton, Arturo Sandoval, Nestor Torres and Sammy Figueroa, along with a 60-piece orchestra provided by the Henry Mancini Institute which has found a new home at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music. The concert was recorded and will be released as a CD and concert DVD produced by Phil Ramone who supervised the recording and concert's sound. It was a great treat for Sammy to be reunited with so many old friends and musical compatriots. It was apparent from the enthusiastic applause and cheers whenever Sammy played or was introduced that Sammy has developed many fans and afficionados amongst South Florida's most sophisticated listeners.
On January 8th, 2010 Sammy Figueroa will bring his Cal Tjader tribute band, Sally's Tomato, to the Big Apple. The group will feature special guests Richard Bravo on timbales and Waldo Chavez on bass. There will be only one show which will be at midnight. Running concurrent to this show is the annual Association of Arts Presenters Conference at the New York Hilton. All APAP badgeholders will be admitted for free.
Fresh off a U.S. tour with saxophone colossus Sonny Rollins, master percussionist and Grammy nominee Sammy Figueroa returns to South Florida with a turn at the Sunny Isles Jazz Festival with his rockin' tropical band, Sally's Tomato: A Tribute To The Music of Cal Tjader. Last year Sammy performed at the Festival with his main band, double Grammy nominees Sammy Figueroa and his Latin Jazz Explosion, sharing the stage with sax star Dave Sanborne. This year Sammy comes out to support jazz in South Florida with an informal appearance at the Festival's closing brunch at the Newport Beach Resort's Kitchen 305. Sammy is joined by vibes player Brian Potts and master timbalero Robert Vilera, along with Alex Hoyt on piano, Freddy Lugo on bongos and bassist Agustin Conti.
Back in the 1970's Sammy Figueroa had the time of his life touring and playing with saxophonist Sonny Rollins, one of the jazz world's truly great iconic master musicians. Over the years they both would recall to others how sublime a musical experience it was. Finally, in 2008, thanks to the magic of impresario Larry Rosen, Sonny and Sammy were reunited backstage at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center when Larry presented Sonny as part of his Jazz Roots series. A few months later Sammy was thrilled to receive a phone call from Sonny himself, inviting him to tour with him again. Starting in St. Louis, Sonny's hometown, Sammy joined Sonny's band for three dates, including Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Philadelphia's Kimmel Center. The Philadelphia Inquirer took note in a concert review that "Sammy Figueroa was a welcome addition, bringing subtlety to the congas." According to Sonny, this is just the beginning of the reunion. Sammy expects to join Sonny's band again on tour in 2010.
Photographer Rob Rodriguez, who has been capturing the dynamic visual energy of Sammy Figueroa's various musical activities since mid-2008, is now documenting the rehearsals and recording of Sammy Figueroa and his Latin Jazz Explosion's third album. Rob's work, which ranges from exciting and humane portraits to breathtaking images of nature in all its seasons and forms, has practically become part of the band, his presence is so ubiquitous and appreciated at various shows and events. Rob's background is similar to Sammy's: a true Nuyorican, his passion for the music and culture is prominent in his photographs of Sammy and his musicians. Rob's work can be seen at his own website, Click Here and at Rob's Corner on Sammy's Facebook fan page.
Sammy Figueroa is pleased to be bringing his website into the great jazz community represented by Jazz Corner. Lois Gilbert, it's director and visionary, has been a friend of Sammy's for years. He's looking forward to participating in her technical expertise and to joining the Jazz Corner family, along with his fellow jazz and Latin jazz brothers and sisters. The Jazz Corner will be selling Sammy's CDs directly from the music page on his website, with a portion of each sale going to the Jazz Foundation of America, which supports elderly and ill jazz musicians.
Sammy Figueroa and his Latin Jazz Explosion recently returned from a triumphant concert at the Jazz En Parco Festival (other performers included Stanley Jordan, Ray Mantilla and Nicole Henry). Massimo Productions of New York and KCC Productions of Bal Harbour, Florida arranged for the appearance, which was so well-received that plans are already afoot for a return in October. Sammy rounded out the tour with a holiday week on the surrealistically beautiful Amalfi coast.
Twice-Grammy nominated percussionist Sammy Figueroa has signed a multiple album agreement with Germany's Senator Entertainment and will immediately be commencing production on his latest album with his band, Sammy Figueroa and His Latin Jazz Explosion. This agreement is the culmination of years of collaboration with the CEO of Senator, Mr. Helge Sasse, and with producer Rachel Faro, who successfully steered Sammy's first two albums (And Sammy Walked In and The Magician, both on Savant Records) into critical acclaim, a devoted fan base and two Grammy nominations. For many years Mr. Sasse has been the primary executive producer on many of Faro and Figueroa's productions, such as the very successful albums of the a cappella group Vocal Sampling (Sire/Elektra/Warner), the classic seasonal salsa album 'Celebremos Navidad' by Fania cuatro icon Yomo Toro and the critically acclaimed legendary Cuban jazz fusion band Cuarto Espacio.
Senator Entertainment Group is one of Germany's most edgy and successful film and distribution companies. Besides distributing releases by the Weinstein Brothers, such as 'The Reader" and Quentin Tarantino's films, Senator is expanding into television, internet and music. Senator Records, distributed by Universal, will release Sammy's next album in Germany. The U.S. partner and other international partners will be announced in time.
Sammy's band members play a prominent role in the creation of the band's sound. On their last album, Venezuelans Silvano Monasterios (piano) and Gabriel Vivas (bass) created brilliant and emotional Latin jazz compositions and arrangements customized to Sammy's creative and virtuoso percussion. Silvano and Gaby will again provide Sammy with the majority of the music, this time aiming for a broad appeal with music that has both excitement and beauty. The album is expected to be released in Europe in late 2009 and in the United States in early 2010.
Twice Grammy-nominated Sammy Figueroa has come to an agreement with Steve Frumkin, the up and coming artist rep from Jim Wadsworth's Cleveland-based agency, JWP. They intend to develop Sammy and his band, The Latin Jazz Explosion for appearances in large festivals and performance centers over the late 2009-2010 season. Other artists represented by Steve and JWP include Larry Coryell, Freddy Cole, Rachel Z, Hiroshima, James Moody, Mose Allison, Kevin Mahogany and Allan Harris.
In a splashy press conference that was more like a celebration and a party, jazz empresario Larry Rosen announced his exciting new 2009-2010 series of jazz concerts at the Adrienne Arsht Center. Gary Burton, Shelley Berg, Ira Sullivan, Arturo Sandoval, Jon Secada, Nestor Torres and Sammy were some of the celebrity musicians to appear at the bash. Sammy, who was introduced by Larry Rosen as "the best percussionist in the world", will be appearing at the Jazz Roots' presentation of the Dave Grusin Orchestra in December 2009.
Daniela Mercury is Brazil's hugest pop star and Sammy was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview her on his Friday afternoon radio show on WDNA South Florida. He was even more pleased when she invited him to perform with her band at the Brazil On The Beach Festival in Hollywood, Florida. Despite initially being rained out the open-air concert attracted 65,000 people and was a nonstop ecstatic dance party. Sammy had the time of his life!
Last night Sammy Figueroa appeared at the Adrienne Arsht Center in a grand tribute to two of the great men of Latin Jazz: Tito Puente and Machito. Sammy appeared in the early part of the evening, dedicated to Tito Puente, along with Dave Valentin, Arturo Sandoval and Orestes Vilato. The concert was produced by former GRP Records President and great jazz impresario Larry Rosen. Sammy and Larry go way back as Sammy had played on many of GRP's great records. Larry called on Sammy to assist him in the making of this event and all in all it was a great night full of great music.
Sammy Figueroa, along with vibraphonist Richard Sprince, bassist Paul Shewchuck, pianist Alex Hoyt, percussionist Freddy Lugo and fellow Pearl Percussion endorser, timbalero Robert Vilera has put together a band in tribute of the wonderful music of vibraphonist Cal Tjader that was so successful in the 60's and 70's. Inspired by Sammy's friend Will Lee's Beatles 'cover' band, The Fab Faux, this band replicates the recorded music of Cal Tjader with shimmering virtuosity and tropical swing. Originally formed 'just for fun', this band has been an instant success from its very first appearance at the Miami Book Fair and now with a regular monthly slot at Hollywood's Kitchen 305, presented by KCC Productions.
Brazilian superstar performer and writer ('Mas Que Nada") Jorge Ben Jor invited Sammy Figueroa to perform with him during Labor Day Weekend's legendary Brazil Day in New York. This performance was enthusiastically received by 40,000 people as the whole area around Times Square was shut down for the show. The concert/party will be broadcast one week later on Globo TV. Afterwards, Sammy went by the Zinc Bar for a special performance, followed by several days at the Zinc with his own band, The Latin Jazz Explosion.
Plum TV, a new network that broadcasts to affluent communities such as Aspen, the Hamptons, Miami Beach, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Telluride and Vail, has produced a 30-minute special on Sammy Figueroa and his music. The segment will be played continuously over the next months and can be viewed online at Plum TV's Website. The show was filmed at the legendary The Van Dyke in South Beach, which has served as an incubator for Sammy and his band, The Latin Jazz Explosion. The night that the show was recorded was the record-breaking largest attendance in The Van Dyke's history.
The Grammy Nomination was not the only honor bestowed upon Sammy Figueroa this year. His second, Grammy-nominated album, 'The Magician', has received the Drummie Award for BEST HAND PERCUSSION ALBUM 2008. The Drummies are awarded by DRUM! Magazine every year and are decided in a prestigious reader survey contest out of 5000 candidates. This is not Sammy's first Drummie: in 2006 he was honored as BEST JAZZ/FUSION PERCUSSIONIST and in 2007 as runner-up for BEST STUDIO PERCUSSIONIST.