The Latin Grammy award-winning Afro Bop Alliance Latin jazz sextet will be the featured entertainment as the 2019 Guilford Performing Arts Festival kicks off on Thursday, September 26, with a benefit dinner under a tent on the historic Guilford Green.

            The event will start at 6:15 p.m., with mingling accompanied by wine, beer, a signature cocktail and live music by the Sandy Stoddard trio. A farm-to-table dinner will follow, and the night will be capped by Afro Bop’s performance and surprise appearances by other festival artists.

            Admission is by donation to the festival of $150 per person. Seats can be reserved online.

            The 2019 Guilford Performing Arts Festival will present 70 free shows and workshops—in music, theater, dance, storytelling, poetry, circus acts, drumming, music making, improvisational theater, shows for kids and much more—in a dozen Guilford venues September 26-29. The festival, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, seeks donations and volunteers; visit the website for details.

            Afro Bop Alliance is an Afro-Cuban jazz ensemble based in New York City. It won the Latin Jazz Album of Year at the 9th annual Latin Grammy Awards in 2008 for the recording “Afro Bop Alliance, featuring Dave Samuels.” The album was nominated for a Grammy in the same category that same year.

            Afro Bop will release its seventh album, “Upwards,” this fall. Of the band’s most recent work, “Revelation,” Raul de Gama of the Latin Jazz Network wrote, “The music’s variety of mood, conception and sheer exuberance is a moving feast for the inner ear. Revelation, like all its predecessors, is a ravishing kaleidoscope of music with crashing contrasts of volume and dynamics.” Famed clarinetist/saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera noted the “exquisite playing and arranging” of Afro Bop and said, “The mix they’ve achieved is so balanced that you never feel that the music is too Latin to be jazz or too jazzy to be Latin.”

            Afro Bop’s bandleader is drummer Joe McCarthy, a Madison, Connecticut, resident, who has had a diverse career as a drummer/percussionist, bandleader, producer and educator in a myriad of settings, from symphony orchestra to bebop, big band, Afro-Cuban, theater and beyond. He’s an in-demand session and Broadway pit player who’s recorded or performed with D’Rivera, Dave Samuels, Slide Hampton, Eddie Daniels, Wayne Bergeron, Poncho Sanchez, Linda Oh and countless others. He collaborated with Sheryl Crow on a musical adaptation of the movie “Diner.”