Evidencia: New Music for Violin & Afro Latin Ensemble

41 3Arts supporters
$5,108 raised of $5,000 goal
0 Days 0:00:00 LEFT
Funded on November 22, 2020
    • 102% contributed

I am a jazz violinist who takes inspiration from my Afro-Latin heritage. Over the nearly two decades of leading the James Sanders’ Conjunto ensemble, our sound has largely focused on the work of other composers, encompassing both jazz standards and Afro Latin sources. Earlier this year I began writing original music for the group, feeling that this was a moment to create new sounds that draw on Chicago’s unique place in the jazz universe and my own particular background. With the pandemic, rehearsals and live performances came to a screeching halt. I continued to write, however, and various livestreaming platforms gave me the ability to work out these compositions. Now, with this campaign, we have the opportunity to document this music and get our ensemble playing together again. With your support, we will record these compositions as Evidencia: New Music for Violin & Afro Latin Ensemble.

About This Project

Born in Chicago, I am the product of a marriage between an American father and Afro-Dominican mother. I began my career as a jazz musician in the last part of the twentieth century. Early on, I knew I wanted to make music that drew on my lineage and traditions as an Afro-Latino. With that as my north star, I formed James Sanders’ Conjunto to explore the convergence of these forces.

The musicians involved with this project are Jose Rendon (conga), Luis Rosario (bongos), Steve Eisen (sax & flute), Jean-Christophe Leroy (drums), Jose Porcayo (bass), and Leandro López-Várady (arranger & pianist).

In the coming months I plan to get the ensemble in the studio to document the original new music written during the lockdown. The recording that we’ll produce will be the evidence, or evidencia, of our persistence. My hope is that we will emerge from this difficult time with something tangible and meaningful to our musical community: the continuing evolution of Latin jazz and my voice as a composer.

The musicians of Conjunto have seen their livelihoods affected severely by the pandemic, so I also have the well-being of my fellow artists in mind. This project will give them meaningful work and an opportunity to practice the craft that they, like myself, have dedicated their lives to.

Funds raised by this campaign will go toward the musicians' fees, studio costs, and video production. 

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $25
    Enthusiastic social media recognition ($25.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    Above plus a copy of the album and your name in the credits on the music video ($30.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    All of the above, plus an autographed album ($80.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $250
    All of the above, plus an invitation to an online, 30-minute solo violin performance by James ($105.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $500
    Autographed album, your name in the album credits, and a 45-minute solo violin performance by James (live or online, in the Chicago area) ($255.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $1000
    Above plus "Producer" credit and the opportunity to have a cameo in the video release accompanying the album ($755.00 is tax deductible.)

James Sanders

Make a Wave Artist

Violinist James Sanders confidently crosses stylistic borders but stays true to both the jazz violin legacy and his rigorous classical training to create music that transcends categories yet remains faithful to its multiple inspirations, which include his Caribbean heritage. He …

View James Sanders's profile
  • Update 1: Thank You
    Posted on October 26, 2020


    I just want to thank everyone that has contributed to this project so far.  Your support means a great deal and we are off to a great start.  We are withn striking distance of the 3Arts match!  That is excitng. I am looking forward to getting the band into action and making this music.  Spread the word and thank you for your support.  


    Update 2: Making great progress!
    Posted on November 01, 2020


    Wow,  I want to thank all of your for your support of this project.  It feels great to have all of you in my corner with this and supportive of bringing the band into the studio. As of this moring we are 82% contributed toward our goal.



    Update 3: We didi it.
    Posted on November 15, 2020


    STRETCH GOAL! Thanks to everyone who has helped us reach our original goal of $5,000. Every dollar will be used to pay for rehearsal time, recording studio, and compensation to the ensemble members on the recording date. Since we have time left on the campaign we would like to announce a stretch goal of an additional $2,000 that will be used to pay for video production and editing of these recording sessions.


    Thank you for making this happen.



    Update 4: Project Update and Holiday Greeting
    Posted on December 26, 2020


    Havan Jazz Festival

    Happy Holidays!  I hope this email finds you enjoying the holidays and in good helath.  Once again I want to thank you for supporting this project.  I thought I would share an update and let you know how things are moving forward.  As I had mentioned before I have been working with pianist/arranger Leandro Lopez Varady on my compostions in preparations to recording them with the band.

    An interesting development  occured and I recently recieved an inviation to put something together for the Havana Jazz Festival that will be taking place online this year.  So, Leandro and I have prepared some of these compostion to be premiered as a duo for the festival.  Our performance will be streamed on January 23. I will include the link in this message if you would like to attend. I will also be participating in the panel discussion taking place on January 18

    We look forward to recording this music with the band but we hope you might enjoy our duo 'preview" performance. 

    Your support makes the music possible.


    Thank You




    Update 5: Evidencia Update
    Posted on June 16, 2021


    Hello everyone,  I wanted to take a moment and keep you posted on this project.  The band has been rehearsing the new arrangements and we have a premiere performance of the material at the Chicago Latin Jazz Festival on July 23 & 24 at the Humbold Park Boat House.   We are very excited to share the new music with the Chicago community. 

    Also, our recording session for this album will take place in August at the CRC studios in downtown Chicago.  David Belden will  be documenting the session on video and Laura Hamm will be the photographer for the session.  David has produced the video presentations of the Chicago Sinfonietta  in the last year and Laura is responsible for many of the photos of the band that we use for promotional material etc.  

    The recording engineer will be Dennis tousana 

    So,  things are moving forward and I really want to express appreciation for your contribution and the support from 3Arts for this project.

    I will share the link to the Latin Jazz Festival ...  Hope to see you there




    Update 6: Music is on the way!
    Posted on January 02, 2022



    Hello everyone,  Happy New Year!  I really appreciate your support for Evidencia and I wanted to give you an update. The CD is a the factory and we have a release date at Constellation on February 11,  If you would like to check out the the design click here....3D CD Image.

    The design features two historic photographs, one by Carlos Flores of the VP record store on north Avenue in 1973 and the Cover photograph is courtesy of Manuel A. Martinez’s book, Chicago: Historia De Nuestra Comunidad Puertorriqueña. It captures the first Dia De San Juan Festival held at the Chicago Avenue Armory* on June 24, 1956. The Armory was filled with Puerto Ricans celebrating while Tito Rodriguez & His Orchestra performed. The dancer featured in the photo is the late & local musician, Rafael “Congo” Castro. Many entertainers played at the festival including El Trio Vegabajeño. It was reported that 5,000 individuals attended the event which was sponsored by the Chicago Catholic Archdiocese. The festival evolved in 1966 into the first Puerto Rican Parade in downtown Chicago .

    Arlene Hedgecock of 5after9 created the wonderful design with input from Don Macica

    David Belden is putting together some cool vids of the session. Here is a little Teaser Video announcing the release.


    The release will be livestreamed and also in person.  Here are the links for the livestream and tickets.  



    I look forward to sharing this music with all of you and getting a copy of the CD.  If I don't get a chance to thank you in person I will be reaching out to you in February.


    Thank you all for your support and Happy New Year!



    • Thank you to the following for contributing to 3Arts with the recommendation that we support this project.

    • Veljko Trkulja

    • Tamara Glassburg

    • Tomeka Reid

    • Stuart Mann

    • Tyrone Tate

    • Norman Wear

    • Dan Clucas

    • June Matayoshi

    • bill kronenberg

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Edward Scott

    • Dave Abatangelo

    • Rose Parisi

    • Carolina Cifuentes

    • Dave Belden

    • Robert Sanders

    • Nik Rokop

    • Doug Lofstrom

    • Phoebe Kuan

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Doris Downing

    • Don Macica

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Kathleen Brauer

    • Michael Low

    • Trish McGeady


    • Arlene Turner-Crawford

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Pilar Landa

    • Tony Woo

    • Clara Lindner

    • Halena Kays

    • Pamela Crutchfield

    • Salome Chasnoff

    • Salome Chasnoff

    • William Kurk

    • Norman Taylor

    • Mesha Arant

    • Debra Kerr

make it work


3AP Presenting Partner:

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 Additional support provided by: 

Department of Cultural Affairs logo  Illinois Arts Council