Alex Alvear & MANGO BLUE
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Alex Alvear & MANGO BLUE

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Latin World

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Mar
20
Alex Alvear & MANGO BLUE @ Regattabar

Cambridge, MA

Cambridge, MA

Mar
20
Alex Alvear & MANGO BLUE @ Private Show

Needham, MA

Needham, MA

Mar
18
Alex Alvear & MANGO BLUE @ Private Show

Needham, MA

Needham, MA

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos

Music

Press


By Anaridis Rodriguez, Globe Correspondent

Alex Alvear’s shoulder-length curls cascade from beneath the black Kangol cap he wears backward as he walks through Villa Victoria’s yard in the South End. He calls out to residents in the planned housing community’s main square as they shovel out from yet another winter storm.

“Hola chiqui,” he says as he helps Villa Victoria resident Reinelda "Chiqui" Rivera walk over a snowbank half her size.

To many here, Alvear is not only the performance and production manager of the community’s Center for the Arts. He is a friend.

On this day, he is organizing the upcoming Chinese New Year celebration, an event of particular interest to the 30 percent of Villa Victoria residents of Chinese descent. He’s also working on the community’s annual concert series, on its third installment of a Latin-American classical music series done in collaboration with New England Conservatory and on the photo exhibit “Foto-tipos,” which pays homage to 19th century innovations.

Alvear, 48, is an accomplished musician in his own right, a bass player and singer who graduated from Berklee College of Music and leads a band, Mango Blue, that recently released its second CD. But, he says, his heart lies in his community work, and this is evident as he walks through the courtyard, stopping to talk with residents.

Alvear's projects range from working with Villa Victoria's youngest residents to its oldest, a Puerto Rican singing and dancing group called “Las Pleneras,” an outgrowth of Villa Victoria’s roots in the mid-1970s as an affordable, overwhelmingly Puerto Rican community in the midst of the South End.

“He’s marvelous,” says Maria Flores Rodriguez, 65, who started the group for residents older than 55. “He understands us, even though he’s much younger than us. He understands like no one else.”

Alvear has helped the group arrange performances, hosted karaoke nights for members, and worked to bring new vibrancy to a generation of community members that is at times forgotten.

The success of their mutual work was demonstrated last month when the group performed for Governor Deval Patrick and other dignitaries at the annual Massachusetts Cultural Council Awards. “Las Pleneras,” which was honored for maintaining their heritage through the arts, received a standing ovation for their vivid rendition of “Preciosa,” a popular Puerto Rican folk song.

Villa Victoria, or Victory Village, was born after a group of Puerto Rican community activists, in the late 1960s, defied the city’s plans to rebuild their South End neighborhood, then known as Parcel 19. Their regular tenants’ council meetings in the basement of St. Stephen’s Church later evolved into the governing body of Villa Victoria, Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion.

Part of IBA’s mission has been to empower residents through the arts, says F. Javier Torres, executive director of Villa Victoria's Center for the Arts. This arts programming reaches some 20,000 people a year, he said.

Alvear’s involvement began in 1986 when, while studying at Berklee, he performed at local schools as part of Villa Victoria’s in-school and afterschool music programs. After graduating, he took at full-time job as program coordinator at Villa Victoria in 1991.

It was a move that catapulted Alvear into a career in civic work and his rise to become one of the city’s leading cultural ambassadors,

At Villa Victoria, the Ecuadorian-born musician has incorporated an annual concert series with music ranging from Colombian vallenato and Andean folk to the ever-popular salsa bands.

And since 2000, when he founded his other band, Manguito, he and his fellow musicians have arranged interactive performances at which they introduce students to the Latino culture by taking them on what Alvear calls “a musical journey through the Caribbean.” (Click here to see a video of Manguito in action.)

The group, which also teaches students how to play the various Latin-American instruments, performs under the direction of Young Audiences of Massachusetts, the local affiliate of the national non-profit Young Audiences Arts for Learning.

“Culture allows us to have our own individual voice, and Alex is a very strong voice,” said Diane Freedland, executive director of the Massachusetts branch. “The duality with these programs from Manguito is really special.”

Manguito visited at 20 area schools and performed in front of 6,000 students in 2010 alone.

Alvear’s commitment to building community through music began even before he moved to Boston from his native Quito at age 24.

As a young man, he recalled, he and other musicians, “used to play at orphanages and the jails and hospitals and we would play in Indian communities.”

These experiences, he says, helped nourish his desire to connect with people and still influenceS his philosophy as Villa Victoria’s performance and production manager.

“There are many aspects,” he said of his job. “But the m - Boston Globe


(in one of the tracks from the Immigrant Blues CD) “The band offers a Latin-jazz groove over the course of the six-and-a-half minute cut without ever losing a sense of pop-song "hookiness". And the bilingual "Immigrant Blues" could speak for everyone in this country of exiles.” - John Garelick


“Multi-ethnic superband that floored Savannah audiences…Though Mango Blue is a 31 flavor of musical ice cream, the band remains deeply rooted in tradition.” - Creative Loafing (Savannah, GA)


“Alex Alvear has been a powerful force in the Latin music scene for years as a cultural promoter and as a musician.” - David Wildman


“Alvear tries to write songs that go beyond the banality he says is common to much of the music produced here, songs that tend to be mostly about wanting to get into someone else's pants...fun and lively music, good for dancing or just listening. It's all good. But, in the title song, Alvear has created an anthem for immigrants that deserves wider play than most self-financed music gets. After all, as the song says, "It's an immigrant nation." It's time we started behaving as one.” - Ricardo Pimentel


“Mango Blue is a band that defies categorization. Its music, like Latin America itself, is an eclectic mix of musical influences.” - WGBH Boston PBS Station


“I have been a fan of Mango Blue for many years, it's one of my favorite Latin bands around.” - Danilo Perez


“Alex is a musician's musician whose extraordinary talent as a composer, vocalist and bassist is fully matched by his vision and creativity.” - John Santos


“The Roots and Spirit of the music Mango Blue speak of the varied traditions that make up the Afro Caribbean melting pot of cultures. Alex Alvear's talent, knowledge and passion keep the music joyfully swinging while forging a true natural fusion that brings together the common language of his inspired band of musicians.” - Jamey Haddad


“With his Ecuadorian roots, Alex Alvear brings a unique voice and special approach to his combination of Latin and Jazz.” - Omar Sosa


Discography

"Immigrant Blues"
www.cdbaby.com/mangoblue

"MANGO"
www.cdbaby.com/alexalvearandmangoblue

"Equatorial"
www.cdbaby.com/alexalvear

All of Alex Alvear's music can be heard and downloaded at:

www.alexalvearandmangoblue.bandcamp.com

Also on iTunes & Amazon

Photos

Bio

Alex Alvear & Mango Blue blends an exciting mixture of musical styles to create a refreshing new sound in Afro-Latin and World music, through songs of celebration and social conscience. Alex Alvear & Mango Blue is a high-powered, all-original music ensemble that has delighted audiences and promoters alike, throughout the Americas with its infectious sound.

Led by Ecuadorian composer, bassist and singer Alex Alvear, this invigorating hybrid playfully integrates a wide array of influences from Rhythm & Blues, Jazz and Funk to Caribbean Roots, with a strong rhythmical foundation that draws from diverse Afro-Latin musical traditions. This stylistic fusion allows for a concoction that translates into music that transcends ethnic boundaries, providing a new color in the latin music palette.

The members of this band come from different parts of the world including Venezuela, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, the US and Ecuador and are among the best instrumentalists in the region.

Alvear's credits include recordings and/or performances with internationally acclaimed artists such as Celia Cruz, Orlando "Puntilla" Rios, Paquito D'Rivera, Larry Harlow, Afrocubism, Isaac Delgado, Jimmy Haslip, Johnatha Brooke, Raul Midon and Israel "Cachao" Lopez, to name a few. Two productions Alvear has taken part in have been nominated to the Grammys including Paquito D'Rivera's "Paquito D'Rivera Presents: Las Hermanas Marquez" and Gonzalo Grau's "Frutero Moderno."

Alex Alvear & Mango Blue has performed extensively in concert halls, festivals and clubs nationally and internationally. Some of these include CAPA's New Haven Jazz Festival, (sharing the stage with Dee Dee Bridgewater), Severance Hall (Cleveland), The Savannah Onstage Festival, Blue Frog (Mumbai, India), Teatro Nacional Sucre & Plataforma del MAAC (Ecuador), New York's S.O.B.s, MAKOR, Village Underground and The Nuyorican Poets Cafe, The Beantown Jazz Festival, Portland's Festival of Cultural Exchange, Boston Symphony Hall's World Music Series, Museum of Fine Arts in Philadelphia and many more.

On February 12, 2008, the band was featured as part of a report on immigration on NBC Nightly News with the song "Immigrant Blues". In addition, Mango Blue has been featured in over 65 Public Television Stations throughout the US with a TV special recorded for WGBH-Boston's "La Plaza". Visit http://www.wgbh.org/programs/Mango-Blue-632/episodes/-9156 to view some great clips from this program.

ATTENTION NEW ENGLAND PRESENTERS!!
Alex Alvear & Mango Blue belongs to The New England Foundation for the Arts' Touring Roster which can help cover up to 50% of the artist's fees. Alex Alvear's work as a composer makes the artist also elegible for Meet The Composer funds. For more information, please visit: http://www.nefa.org/grantprog/index.html


Find Alex Alvear & Mango Blue's Music on Bandcamp Now!! 

http://alexalvearandmangoblue.bandcamp.com/

EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS
Alex Alvear & Mango Blue offers additional educational programs to complement performances including residency activities, workshops and lecture/demonstration performances on the music of the Caribbean, suitable for grades K-12, as well as college and university audiences.

Band Members