Elio Villafranca is a leading light of the current generation of Cuban jazz artists who are simultaneously paying heed to the rich history of jazz and the form's need to continue to grow, morph and evolve if it is to survive in a meaningful way for generations to come. A classical prodigy who also happens to be a jazz virtuoso, Villafranca has also proven himself to be a composer of distinction, earning Grammy nominations and critical plaudits alike since arriving in the United States at the tail-end of the 90s.
Villafranca has assembled a killer outfit to help him celebrate the music of Mongo Santamaira and Dizzy Gillespie, giants of Afro-Cuban jazz and bebop, respectively, at Pausa Art House (19 Wadsworth St.) at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 21. For the gig, the third night of a three-day fest at Pausa dubbed the "Jazz 100 Festival," in honor of the 100th birthdays of several jazz icons, the pianist will be joined by trumpeter Brownman Ali, percussionist Vladmir Espinosa, drummer Sean Jefferson, and bassist Sabu Adeyola.
"Jazz 100" starts on Oct. 19, with the Mary McMahon Project honoring Ella Fitzgerald, and continues on Oct. 20, with Star People Plays Miles Davis playing the music of Thelonious Monk. The show is a benefit for JazzBuffalo.org, a non-profit dedicated to fostering jazz appreciation in Western New York. Tickets for all three shows are available through Event Brite.