The Simón Bolívar Big-Band Jazz (SBBBJ) was established in November 2007 by Professor Valdemar Rodríguez and the acclaimed Venezuelan drummer Andrés Briceño with the idea of promoting and disseminating jazz music genres in Venezuela. The SBBBJ is made up of 40 students at the Simón Bolívar Conservatory of Music.
In its short existence, the band has participated in seminars and workshops conducted by world renowned jazz maestros such as saxophonist Rolando Briceño; trumpet players James Seely, Edward Wolf and James Delano Zollar; trombonists James Richard Griffin and Stafford Hunter; pianists Daniel Asbury Mixon, Luis Perdomo and Ed Simon; and double bassist Miriam Sullivan. After attending a seminar by saxophonist Román Filiú the band brought off an extraordinary feat: covering Irakere’s Concierto para metales, one of the most complex works of the jazz repertoire.
The SBBJ has performed with legendaries jazz figures such as Nicolás Folmer, conductor of the London Big Band, and Dave Samuels and Robert Quintero from the Caribbean Jazz Project, who joined the band on stage.
The Simón Bolívar Big Band Jazz has performed in many venues around Venezuela: the Simón Bolívar Hall at the National Center for Social Action through Music, the Corp Banca Cultural Center, the Alexander von Humboldt Theater of the Humboldt Cultural Association, the Montalbán Children’s Academic Center, the Theater of the Electricidad de Caracas, the Bello Monte Acoustic Shell, the Opera Theater of Maracay, the Juares Theater of Barquisimeto and the main hall of the Simón Bolívar University.
These Venezuelan musicians have taken part in the 2009 Jazz Festival of Barquisimeto; the 2009 Ajazzgo Festival, held in Cali, Colombia –where they performed before an audience of 15,000–; and the Al Parque Jazz Festival, held in Bogotá, where over 5,000 people applauded them.
Social responsibility is part of the core values upheld by the SBBJ. On March 13, 2010, they gave a charity concert organized by the Alliance Française Caracas and the Embassy of France to Venezuela to help the victims of the Haiti earthquake. The very same year, on May 18, the SBBJ gave a concert at the Instituto Nacional de Orientación Femenina, bringing thus rhythm and joy to the inmates of this penitentiary center.
In May 2011, the SBBBJ appeared with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra at the National Center for Social Action through Music in Caracas. Under the baton of Manuel Galduf, they played a program that consisted of works by contemporary composers that blend jazz with classical music.
From October 31 to November 5, 2011, the SBBBJ made its first US tour featuring a concert series of three performances in New York and one in Boston, as well as an education and workshop series in New York City.