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Launching Season II of Successful Latin Jazz Youth Program

September, 2022 —After an incredible launch of Charlotte’s first Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble, JazzArts Charlotte is excited to welcome back both renowned instructors Julio Jeri and Johnny Conga and introduce another set of youth to Latin Jazz.

Nuestro Tiempo Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble is a program for middle and high school students focused on this unique genre of jazz, which combines the chords and improvisational techniques of traditional jazz with the Latin instruments and rhythms.

Spring of this year, 17 students met and talked about the history, learned to play the genre together, even discovered the rhythms through dance. After 12 weeks hard at work, the first Nuestro Tiempo Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble performed for hundreds of festival participants with enthusiasm, dancing, and applause. “Parents were amazed,” says instructor Julio Jeri.

The program welcomes students with all kinds of backgrounds of music. This past season, some students were familiar with either jazz or Latin music, while some had qualified for all-district orchestras but never played either. Instructor Jeri says he was impressed by their openness to the music.


The most amazing part? This program is free to participating students. With special sponsorship funding from Blue Cross Blue Shield of the Carolinas and Arts and Science Council, each participating student receives 100% scholarship. There is an audition process to ensure students have sufficient knowledge of their instrument. The shared vision for this program is to ensure access to quality programming and reach underserved communities.


Julio Jeri is a trumpet artist originally from Peru. He has served as director, conductor, or musician for the Charlotte Jazz Orchestra, Children’s Theater of Charlotte, Central Brass Band, Orquesta K’che, and has played with salsa groups all over the region. Julio is currently pursuing the Certificate of Jazz Studies at UNC Greensboro. Jeri recently was recognized by UNC Greensboro for his work with Nuestro Tiempo.

Johnny Conga has been performing for 55 years, as a world renowned “multi-percussionist-specialist”, in the Art of Afro-Cuban/Caribbean drumming and music. As a performer, he has been in 150 bands, done 17 international tours, and worked with over 100 major artists including Paquito D’Riviera, the Jackson Five, Willie Bobo, and Gloria Ganyor. As educator, Johnny is an ethnomusicologist, teaching a Latin jazz style percussion and drum curriculum for over 35 years.

The Fall 2022 Nuestro Tiempo Latin Jazz Ensemble will be held Wednesdays, October 5 through December 14, with auditions scheduled September 24 and October 1.


JazzArts Charlotte’s flagship JazzArts Academy program, JazzArts Youth Ensemble, continues to receive accolades after a decade of success, and attract many of the most recognized jazz instructors in the region. This Fall’s instructors, pianist Lovell Bradford, saxophonist Patrick Brown, guitarist Troy Conn, pianist Sean Higgins, trumpeter Matt Postle, and saxophonist Carl Ratliff, reflects over 100 years experience combined teaching jazz.

The Fall 2022 Youth Ensembles program is held Sundays, Sept 25 through December 18, with auditions held September 17 and 18. This program is also for middle and high school students, all instruments, with at least a year of instruction. Scholarships and financial aid are available.

We’re proud to boast students who have gone on to study at Berklee and perform in New York, and those who have used their acquired life skills in areas as broad as engineering and communications.  Whichever jazz program is right for you, and however you choose to apply those skills, we have a spotlight waiting.

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