It’s Latin Jazz Night at the Michener Art Museum.
Pianist, singer, arranger and composer Suzzette Ortiz will perform Latin jazz standards as well as original music from a soon-to-be-released album when Latin Jazz Night comes to the Michener Art Museum Saturday, November 19. Joining her will be William Morales (bass), William Murray (saxophone), Augusto Febres (congas), and Cuban sensation Angel “Cuco” Castellanos (Cajon and percussion).
Ortiz has played in such venues as the Kimmel Center, the Mann Music Center, Zanzibar Blue Jazz Club, Villanova Performing Arts Center, La Feria del Barrio, the Bethlehem P.R. Festival, the Wayne Jazz Festival, the Chicken Bone Beach Jazz Festival in Atlantic City, and El Flamingo Night Club in Manhattan.
Originally from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, she studied piano with Cesar “Pupi” Pedroso of the world-famous Cuban group, Los Van Van, Orlando Fiol, Philadelphia jazz phenomenon Jimmy Amadie, and has shared the stage with such artists as Tito Puente, Nestor Torres, Eddie Palmieri, the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Compay Segundo of the Cuban-based Buena Vista Social Club, Brenda K. Starr, and Hilton Ruiz. Her international performance credits include the International FestiJazz of La Paz, Bolivia, Venezuela, and the Jazz Festival in Cuba.
In summer 2007 Ortiz returned from a concert tour in Tuscany, Italy, with the Christina Cultural Art Center singing ensemble Fruits of the Spirit. Ortiz was hired by the center as an artist-in-residence to conduct the new ensemble. She works with Dennis Fortune, a renowned jazz piano player, arranger, and composer, who also is the assistant director for Fruits of the Spirit. Fortune and Ortiz, along with Fruits of the Spirit, have opened for the Grammy award-winning vocal ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock at the Grand Opera House in Wilmington, Delaware.
Having received numerous awards, commendations, and medals from Camden City Council, Camden Board of Education, the New Jersey State Senate, V.S.A. (an organization that promotes music for special education students), Arts of New Jersey, and even Camden’s mayor, her greatest reward, she says, is “spreading her passion for music to her students, along with teaching them the value of making a difference.”
She holds a Bachelor’s degree in piano performance with a minor in music composition from the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico and a Master’s degree in Music Education from Temple University in Philadelphia. She has studied choral conducting at Juilliard School of Music and the University of the Arts.
Ortiz is the choral director for the award-winning concert choir from the Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy (Creative Arts High School) in Camden, New Jersey.
In 2005, she and her students climbed to another level of musical accomplishment by winning the Gold Award at the Heritage Festival in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In February 2006, Ortiz completed a tour to Ghana, West Africa, where she performed in various venues with her school’s concert choir and five dancers.
Of special note is that in May 2007, Walmart, along with members of the Camden community, named Ortiz “Teacher of the Year” and gave the school $1,000 toward her next trip with the school’s concert choir. The Camden mayor proclaimed October 12, 2007 “Suzzette Ortiz Day.” Walmart presented her school with a $10,000 grant from its foundation.
“Jazz Night has been a signature live music event at the Michener for 15 years now. Our aim is to bring a diverse performance schedule featuring exceptionally talented musicians from throughout the Philadelphia region and beyond. We are thrilled to present Suzzette Ortiz and Friends at our upcoming Jazz Night.”
The James A. Michener Art Museum is located at 138 South Pine St., Doylestown, Pa. Museum hours: Tuesday through Friday, 10 am to 4:30 pm;
Saturday 10 am to 5 pm; Sunday noon to 5 pm. Admission: Members and children under 6, free; adults $12.50; seniors $11.50; college student with valid ID $9.50; ages 6-18 $6; under 6 free. For more information, visit www.michenerartmuseum.org or call 215-340-9800.