Musician Mike Boone’s Latin Jazz journey comes full circle at Chris’ Jazz Cafe
Boone will be putting on a Latin Jazz showcase on April 23 from 7-9:30 p.m.
When Mike Boone was growing up in The Upper East Side of Manhattan in Spanish Harlem, he was drawn to and influenced by the fusion of culture that was exposed to him.
“I was growing up in the early 70s and there were a lot of different people from different backgrounds,” he said in a recent interview with AL DÍA News. “In El Barrio, there were a lot of Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and Black people raising their families.”
Spanish Harlem is a melting pot of mostly Hispanic influences, and it had a big influence on Boone’s upbringing.
“Every Saturday morning I would always wake up to salsa music playing outside,” he said.
In those experiences, a love for jazz and Latin music prospered.
His stepfather, who was an avid music fan, had a small collection of jazz vinyl records that he would play every once in a while.
“When he played those records, I would run to the piano and try to repeat the sounds that I just heard,” he said.
Boone’s parents soon suggested that he take piano lessons, which helped him get into a performing arts school in New York City.
That’s when he started playing the acoustic bass, which became a key moment early in his music career.
“At first I didn’t like it, but then I grew to really enjoy it,” said Boone.
He soon received a scholarship to go to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.
While living in Rochester, Boone became exposed to more musical genres, but Latin Jazz was the main source of his focus.
“I got into Latin jazz in college, I heard of a Cuban Latin Jazz band called, Irakere,” he recalled. “The band was such a revolutionary and unique band. This is what got me interested.”
His first encounter with the band came while visiting a record store in Rochester, and he spotted one of their vinyls.
“I just picked it up because the cover was cool,” he said.
He purchased the record and listened. Boone remembers being amazed by the unique sounds, but it wasn’t completely unfamiliar to him.
“It reminded me of salsa,” he said.
Irakere is an Afro-Latin Jazz band from Cuba. They used electric guitars and percussion, on top of various instruments that mimicked the sounds of the Caribbean.]
“It really blew me away and changed my life,” he said.
From then on, Boone appreciated and respected the Afro-Caribbean sounds Latin Jazz had to offer.
He spent years practicing and playing in local clubs, and it eventually led him to Philadelphia.
To this day, Boone still has the music bug and has no plans to retire.
In fact, he called a few of his friends to come together and create an amazing Latin Jazz performance that will be happening later this month at Chris’ Jazz Cafe.
Boone’s friends are experienced like himself in the craft.
One of them is Camden resident Suzzette Ortiz, who is a professional pianist, percussionist, and singer of Puerto Rican heritage.
“She’s also a music teacher in Camden,” said Boone.
He is making the performance an educational experience in the genre for viewers who are able to stream the show through Chris’ Jazz Cafe’s website.
Along with Suzette Ortiz, Boone is introducing the world to Mervin Toussaint, who is an experienced saxophonist, producer, and composer. His family hails from Haiti.
“There will definitely be an Afro-Caribbean concept to the performance,” he said.
It will also be the first-ever performance for Boone that will primarily play Latin Jazz.
“When I saw the Chris’ Jazz Cafe article on AL DÍA’s website, I knew I wanted to put together an only Latin Jazz concert,” he said.
Things are looking up for Boone, with vaccinations being rolled out and as the country is slowly opening up, he is excited to start performing for a live audience, which is something that he truly misses.
“This is just the beginning for me, I’m ready to get out there and play,” he said.
Check out Mike Boone’s performance through Chris’ Jazz Cafe’s website on April 23 from 7 p.m- 9:30 p.m.
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