Nothing stops the groove — that's been the mantra of jazz great Arturo O'Farrill and his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra.

The day after September 11th, O'Farrill and his big band played at Birdland Jazz Club to keep the music going when other musicians couldn't make it. Now, Birdland is closed due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions, so the band is taking its weekly show online, this time raising awareness for an emergency musicians’ fund organized by O'Farrill and his nonprofit Afro Latin Jazz Alliance.

What You Need To Know

  • Arturo O'Farrill, Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, organize emergency musicians’ fund.

  • Fund is meant to help musicians struggling with no live shows amid the pandemic.

  • Organizers say it helps those who may fall between the cracks of other emegency funds.

"Birdland, I've been at for 25 years on Sundays, and all of sudden it goes dark and all of sudden there's no performances,” he told NY1. “I know some of these folks are really, really hurting. This is catastrophic for some of my musicians.”

The fund is designed to help musicians like Abdulrahman Amer, a trombone player who lives in Brooklyn and is just scraping by — a drastic turn for the 22-year-old, whose star was rising.

"To be honest, to be 100 percent real, I was probably going to have the most work of my entire life, the most opportunity, to interact and touch new souls,” he said. “Also, financially, I'm not going to lie, it was going to be fruitful.”

Bass player BamBam Rodriquez is also being helped by the fund. He is struggling, but plays to raise awareness and, hopefully, donations.

"We can always all help each other,” he said. “It doesn't matter if you're also struggling. I think the point is that: to support each other, all of us.”

Organizers say this fund helps those who may fall between the cracks of other emergency funds.

"Many of our musicians are immigrant who are legally in the country, but they are not residents, so they have a special performing visa and they don't qualify for emergency funds,” Marietta Ulacia, the ALJA executive director, told us via Zoom. “We do not ask about immigration status.”

The fund is helping nearly 100 musicians. But, with more donations, it hopes to expand — and, of course, continue the music.


Main story image courtesy of Laura Diliberto.



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