Sweet Plantain to perform Friday at the JACC

From left, violinist Romulo Benavides, cellist David Gotay, violinist/trombonist Eddie Venegas and violist Orlando Wells of Sweet Plantain.

The Juneau Arts & Humanities Council will present their second concert of the season with the Sweet Plantain String Quartet, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center.


Members of Sweet Plaintain fuse the western classical traditions with hip-hop, jazz improv, and Latin rhythms, specializing in genre-blurring, original compositions and arrangements, as well as contemporary works by Latin American composers. The group also makes use of extended percussive techniques and improvisation.

The group consists of two violin players, a viola player and a cellist.

Violinist Eddie Venegas was born in Caracas, Venezuela. He is also a self-taught trombonist and very active on both instruments in the New York City freelance jazz, classical, and Latin music scenes. He has worked with such renowned artists as John Fadis, Joe Zawinul, Tito Puente, Marc Antony, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Dani Rojo and Johnny Pacheco, and has appeared as a soloist with numerous groups, including the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, the Hudson Jazz Ensemble, Saint Martin of Tours Symphony Orchestra, the Carpentier Quartet and the Queens Philharmonic. Venegas plays regularly with the Harrisburg Symphony, La Orquesta Broadway, the Sphinx Symphony and En Talla, and his original compositions can be heard among the Sweet Plantain and The 3 Sad Cats Jazz Ensemble’s regular repertoire.

Violinist Romulo Benavides, also from, Venezuela, has performed with the Carpentier Quartet, Ensemble America, Frank Valiente Tango Quintet, and with Mauricio Najt and Alberto Quiroga. Benavides performs as the first violinist of the Dali Quartet and is concertmaster and featured soloist of the Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra.

Violist Orlando Wells, a New Jersey native, has held the concertmaster chair with Orchestra of the Bronx and the Bronx Opera and has appeared as a soloist with Antara, the Manhattan Virtuosi and the St. Peter by the Sea Orchestra. He also performs with the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, SONYC Chamber Orchestra, Ritz Chamber Players, Quartet Evolution, Radio City Christmas Show Orchestra and on Broadway with Phantom of the Opera, The Producers, Spamalot and Wicked. He has collaborated with such greats as John Legend, Mariah Carey, Rihanna, Kanye West, Marvin Hamlisch, the Akua Dixon Swing Quartet, Sojourner Strings and Dionne Warwick.

Cellist David Gotay, born in the Bronx, has performed in such notable venues as Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Avery Fisher Hall and the White House. He has played on television in PBS’ Sessions at 54th Street, on the QVC Network and in the nationally-broadcast Hurricane Katrina Benefit with Sheryl Crow. He has collaborated with such artists as Alicia Keys, Billy Joel, k.d. lang, David Sanborn, Little Jimmy Scott, John Blake Jr., and Mannheim Steamroller. Gotay was a member of the critically-acclaimed Carpentier Quartet, is solo cellist for Sasha and Shawna and is a member of the experimental hip-hop/classical group Sound Liberation. He regularly performs with the Harrisburg Symphony, Key West Symphony, and the Sphinx Symphony in Detroit.

In addition to performing, Sweet Plantain has designed and runs a string program at the St. Ignatius School in the South Bronx neighborhood of New York City, an area with one of the highest poverty rates in the United States.

Tickets to Friday’s show are at the JACC, Hearthside Books, and at www.jahc.org.


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