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Free July 17concert will initiate new amphitheater

Town Center amphitheater is at center, stage at left, kids water playground at right, and offices for the East Aldine District at rear of this aerial photo.

Program includes Ray Vega, and Diaz’ Caliente

Grammy-winning Latin jazz trumpeter Ray Vega will lead the first live, free performance at the East Aldine Town Center amphitheater Sat., July 17

HOUSTON — Live, free, sizzling jazz for people of all ages, led by an international music star, in East Aldine has been announced. Grammy-winning Latin jazz trumpeter Ray Vega will lead the first live, free performance at the East Aldine Town Center amphitheater Saturday, July 17th.

Latin Jazz trumpet player Ray Vega, winner of multiple GRAMMY awards, will lead Caliente, a local ensemble of about 30 young musicians from the Diaz Music Institute, which is supported by funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Texas Commission on the Arts, Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia’s office and the East Aldine Management District.

The public show starts at 7 p.m. Saturday at the new amphitheater at the recently expanded East Aldine Town Center, 2800 Aldine Mail Route Rd.

Organizers are planning to offer light refreshments for sale.

The free performance will be the first of many at the Town Center, which includes District offices, a play area, outdoor water features, storefront operations of BakerRipley and the HOPE Clinic, the Lone Star College East Aldine Center and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office dispatch center.

Jazz bassist Oskar Catarya, a GRAMMY nominee, will perform at the amphitheater Saturday, July 31, in a format similar to Vega’s.

The Town Center was created by the District to spur economic development and enhance several public services to East Aldine.

“The East Aldine Management District is honored and excited to welcome Ray Vega and Caliente to ‘christen’ the amphitheater with an unforgettable performance,” District Executive Director David Hawes said. “The start of free live entertainment at the Town Center for people of all ages shows how East Aldine and the District are moving ahead with the kind of amenities that the community wants and deserves.”

José Antonio Diaz will continue to lead the Diaz Music Institute (DMI) while retiring after more than 30 years as a music educator at MacArthur High School in the Aldine Independent School District.

DMI welcomes students ages 4 to 18 and says it “creates opportunities through (extracurricular) music education for all children, especially at-risk Latinx and children of color of any income level, with the potential of developing a professional career in the music industry.” DMI also runs a summer dance camp.

Recent DMI alumni who have made a mark in the music industry include tenor saxophonist and singer Jordan Donald, who has accompanied Stevie Wonder, Anita Baker and Kanye West on stage; guitarist and singer Jabari Johnson, who had a recent hit with the gospel/hiphop song “Fixed Fight;” award-winning opera singer Latonia Moore, who starred in a Metropolitan Opera production of “Porgy and Bess,” and percussionist Marcia Chapa, who toured with Beyoncé’s band and has performed with the Oakland Symphony.

Diaz said Vega’s July 17 performance is not only a milestone for East Aldine, but also a signal of DMI’s emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic, when it had to switch from in-person classes to online instruction.

“Just giving folks access to this kind of thing improves the quality of life,” Diaz said of the upcoming performance. “Your community starts becoming energized and you have a lot more positive stuff happening.”