Levitt Amp se­ries kicks off with Latino flair

Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow - - MUSIC - STAFF RE­PORT

The s e cond Levitt AMP Chat­tanooga mu­sic se­ries launches tonight, Aug. 23, when the Pedrito Martinez Group brings a hip-shak­ing mix of Cuban rumba, Afro- Latin jazz and Span­ish f l amenco mu­sic to the grounds of the Bessie Smith Cul­tural Cen­ter, 200 M. L. King Blvd. The free con­cert will start at 6 p.m.

The Levitt AMP se­ries is pre­sented by Jaz­zanooga, a non­profit ded­i­cated to us­ing jazz to tran­scend cul­tural bar­ri­ers while pro­mot­ing arts and cul­tural pro­gram­ming in the Chat­tanooga area. The out­door con­certs will be held rain or shine.

Pe­dro Pablo “Pedrito” Martinez was born in Ha­vana, Cuba, in 1973. By age 11, he was per­form­ing as a vo­cal­ist and per­cus­sion­ist with Cuban leg­ends such as Tata Guines. He trav­eled to Canada in 1998 with Jane Bun­nett to tour with her group.

He de­cided to re­main in North Amer­ica to pur- sue his ca­reer. Two years later, when the Th­elo­nious Monk I nsti­tute Com­pe­ti­tion f ea­tured Afro- Latin hand drum­ming for the f irst time, Martinez won first place.

After mak­ing the per­ma­nent move to New York City in 1998, Martinez co-founded the highly suc­cess­ful Afro-Cuban band Yerba Buena, which recorded two al­bums and opened for acts in­clud­ing the Dave Matthews Band, Wil­lie Nel­son and Ray Charles.

In ad­di­tion to play­ing on more than 100 al­bums, Martinez has worked with acts such as Bruce Spring­steen, Sting, Paul Si­mon, 12-time Grammy-win­ning sax­o­phon­ist Paquito D’Rivera and nine-time Grammy- win­ning trum­peter Wyn­ton Marsalis.

GABRIELLE SAPLANA PHOTO

Vo­cal­ist and per­cus­sion­ist Pedrito Martinez has played on more than 100 al­bums.

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