Victor Garcia - co-leader, trumpet; Darwin Noguera - co-leader, piano; Special Guests : Steve Turre - trombone, shells; Neal Alger - electric guitar; Ricky Luis - vocal; Paoli Mejias - congas; Juan Turros - tenor saxophone. Ernie Adams - drums; Tito Carrillo - trumpet; Steve Eisen - baritone saxophone; Victor Gonzalez Jr - congas; Roger Ingram - trumpet; Nythia Martinez - vocal; Rich Moore - alto saxophone, clarinet; John Mose - trombone; Juan Daniel Pastor - drums, cajón; Juan Picorelli - timbales; Joshua Ramos - electric bass; Freddie Rodriguez - trumpet; Craig Sunken - trombone; Greg Ward II - alto saxophone; Rocky Yera - tenor & baritone saxophone, flute. Recorded 5/17 and 6/7/2010. Produced by Nick Eipers, Victor Garcia and Darwin Noguera. Engineered by Nick Eipers. REVIEWS: One of JazzChicago.net's Top Chicago Recordings of 2010 and Honorable Mention in JazzChicago.net's Top Jazz Albums of 2010 One of the 10 Best Recordings of 2010 - Johnny Conga, KBCS 91.3FM, Bellevue, WA 3 1/2 Stars! (3=Good, 4=Excellent) - Downbeat Magazine "... explores mostly instrumental fare with lots of improvisation... The Chicago Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble looks to write a new chapter and it's elastic approach succeeds. The eight original compositions are marked by a range of styles - sometimes occurring during the same track - in addition to vamps and multiple sections... " - Eric Fine, Downbeat Magazine "... a wonderfully diverse repertoire of new and highly creative music... The arrangements demonstrate a departure from the straight-down-the-pike Latin dance band vein, preferring a more suite-like approach in some cases, and always in full command of the rich, harmonic possibilities of the big-band format. Darwin and Noguera are clearly open to exploring new and unusual paths, and their collaborative efforts are sure to garner the respect of their peers as well as those young musicians whom they will undoubtedly inspire. There are moments of quiet to balance the power-packed grooves, and there is plenty on Blueprints to sink your teeth into. Be on the lookout for more from these imaginative young artists." - Rebeca Mauleón, Jazz Times Magazine "...Chicago Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble's debut disc, Blueprints, will likely go down as one of the most exciting discs to come out of Chicago's rich jazz scene in 2010... Because this disc is that good, that exciting and that well executed... if CALJE's (as they're affectionately nicknamed) disc were only a festive, danceable gem, it'd be a monster of a disc. But add top-notch soloists and guests (local--Neal Alger, national--Steve Turre, and international--Pablo Mayor), great compositions and arrangements, and an enthusiastic core band, and, well, you'll have the band and disc you have here." - Paul Abella, Chicago Jazz Magazine "As co-leaders, Nicaraguan pianist Darwin Noguera and trumpet player Victor Garcia (Chicago native with a Mexican heritage) share a common taste for the magnificence of big band compositions. A smoking performance." - Latin Jazz Network "...wonderfully reminiscent of a musical recipe that simmers slowly and then bursts into a fiery buffet. This is a marvelously entertaining offering by a group of outstanding musicians, writers and arrangers. Forget the designations 'Latin' and 'jazz.' This is outstanding, high-energy music... Not surprisingly, this group delivers. Each selection also offers intelligent and compelling writing. The arrangements all seem to be neatly constructed to allow room for both ensemble and solo showcases to reach a climax, all while avoiding any Latin band rhythmic or harmonic clichés. The ensemble playing is tight and the arrangers demand absolutely everything of the band, including cascading pyramids and melodic/time complexities on tracks like 'Captain Spok.'" - Nicholas F Mondello, AllAboutJazz.com "...offers a convincing amagalm of Jazz and Latin big band music with enough inventive writing, tight ensemble playing, and strong solos to satisfy fans of the genre..." - Cadence Magazine "This is one of the more intelligent (but also swinging) big band Latin jazz releases that we have heard from anywhere in the past 5 years. The arrangements are tight, there is both excellent solo and ensemble work, and there is a wide variety of styles. It succeeds in being different without turning the proceedings into an artificial exercise. We highly recommend this recording..." - Bill Tilford, Timba.com "...a true knockout - leaping out of the speakers immediately on the first track... One of the CALJE's most popular numbers - the Noguera penned/ Garcia/Noguera-arranged 'Milesmiles' follows and clearly shows the maturity and breadth of Noguera's writing. This satisfying track is a perfect example of the ability of the band to merge heart and mind in a track that features seductive rhythms and interesting and susprising changes, with the great ensemble work and solos captured brilliantly by Eipers and his crew... A blueprint for future success, and truly a triumph for Noguera and Garcia and all the members of Chicago's world class Afro-Latin ensemble, as well as Nick Eipers' excellent Chicago Sessions label, 'Blueprints' is a must have recording for your collection." - Brad Walseth, JazzChicago.net "Trumpeter Victor Garcia and pianist Darwin Norguera lead this smoking Latin-Jazz ensemble that features guests Steve Turre and Neal Alger. Nice solos glide atop the infectious rhythms. The dynamic arrangements allow the musicians pack loads of emotion into the pieces. Blueprints is their debut. Recommended." - DJ Herb, WDCE 90.1FM, Richmond VA "Here's a latin jazz band that you could sit in a concert hall or a club and listen to. This is not to say that there aren't any salseros in the ensemble. Mucho caliente.." - LJ Palardy, WRUV 90.1FM, Burlington VT "...adventurous and aggressive performances that range from ricocheting salsa to reggae-driven hard bop. All the songs are composed by the leaders, and they make the band roar like the Indy 500... The spotlight is on the exciting charts, which will get your engine revved up in no time." - George W. Harris, JazzWeekly.com "... a strong recording debut... " - Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune "The group takes their repertoire based upon Afro-Cuban rhythms and turns it inside out with smart compositions, committed performances, and passionate improvisations... two vocal features provide a striking contrast to the rest of the group's repertoire, allowing them to display another side to their vast creative skills... Noguera and Garcia avoid potential pitfalls of a young big band on Blueprints, leading the Chicago Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble through a series of superb successes. The group bases the core of it's work upon the traditional focus of Latin Jazz big bands, shaping their strong performances mainly around Afro-Cuban rhythms. They approach this context from their own perspective though, and the cleverly conceived compositions sparkle with originality... While the formation of a big band may be both a risk and a challenge, Nogueras, Garcia, and the full Chicago Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble pull the task off with style and ease on Blueprints, establishing themselves as an important creative entity with a solid and promising future." - Chip Boaz, Latin Jazz Corner "...fresh and daring and marvelously versatile band co-led by trumpeter Victor Garcia and pianist Darwin Noguera. Inventive melodies vie with authentic rhythms, lacing jazz history with infectious Caribbean beats. Trumpet, trombone, and reed sections create mesmerizing clockworks of counterpoint, in complex but swinging arrangements. The soloists sparkle and strut - from the leaders, from Chicago veterans (saxist Steve Eisen) and relative newcomers (altoist Greg Ward), and from guest star Steve Turre on trombone and conch... a Latin jazz masterpiece ... play this album again and again, the better to absorb the sharpest new sound in Latin jazz." - Neil Tesser (from the liner notes) BIO: Chicago Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble CALJE was formed in efforts to fuse the musical treasures of Afro-Latin American music and Jazz, as well as musicians from Chicago's diverse Latin and Jazz communities. With a global sound and ensemble, CALJE has played in some of the finest performance halls and highlights many of Chicago's luminaries. CALJE made it's debut by kicking off the "Jazz en Clave" Latin Jazz Festival at Chicago's HotHouse. Since then, CALJE has performed at jazz festivals such as the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Isthmus Jazz Festival, Hyde Park jazz festival, and the Made In Chicago Jazz Series, the latter of which included special guests Howard Levy, Brian Lynch, Paoli Mejias, and Steve Turre. CALJE has played regularly at Chicago's historic Jazz Showcase and Andy's Jazz Club. Victor Garcia Victor Garcia (born on January 6, 1983 in Chicago, IL) began teaching himself to play the trumpet in high school, being influenced by recordings of jazz musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, Clifford Brown, Charlie Parker, and Freddie Hubbard, and by the middle of his senior year enrolled in the Merit School of Music, studying under Michael McLaughlin. While at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Garcia studied with classical luminaries Ron Romm of the Canadian Brass, the late, great Dr. Michael Ewald and with jazz saxophone master Ron Bridgewater. He subsequently transferred to Northern Illinois University due to an increasingly busy schedule in Chicago. There he studied with Dr. Mark Ponzo and jazz trumpet master Art Davis. He also has had the opportunity to play with jazz legends Bill Holman, Roger Ingram, Jon Faddis, Ignacio Berroa, Arturo Sandoval, Luis Bonilla, and R&B celebrities Aretha Franklin, BeBe Winanas, and the Temptations. Victor Garcia has recorded on dozens of albums as well, two of which garnered Grammy nominations in 2005 and 2008 (Angel Melendez & the 911 Mambo Orchestra and Sones de Mexico), and one which was nominated for a Latin Grammy in 2007 (Sones de Mexico). He also maintains a busy teaching schedule at the Chicago Jesuit Academy and at Loyola University, as well as many private students.? Darwin Noguera Nicaraguan pianist, composer, and band leader Darwin Noguera debuted with the Miami Beach Symphony Orchestra at the young age of 14, and continued his studies under the tutelage of Eteri Andjaparidze and Larry Novak at DePaul University. He has accomplished an unusual and fluid integration between classical, jazz, flamenco and Latin rhythms. Darwin is the co-founder and composer for the Chicago Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble (CALJE) and also founded the Evolution Quintet. He has performed with legends such as Steve Turre, Brian Lynch, Paoli Mejias and Howard Levy and often collaborates and plays with local musicians, including Greg Ward, Jesus Enriquez and Guitars of Spain. Darwin toured his native Nicaragua with the second annual Nicaraguan International Jazz Festival and participated again in 2009. His groups regularly take part in Chicago-area festivals, the most noted performance being Millennium Park's "Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz Series".