Blue Bamboo Center For the Arts

Winter Park's newest performing arts center.



Next Event: Latin jazz combo Fusion Beat, Nov. 11

Emily Jourdan

Orlando's Music Beat: Part 1  |  Orlando's Music Beat: Part 2  |  Live Music Guide  |  Blue Bamboo Center

Guitarist Chris Cortez and saxophone player Mark Piszczek met in the 1980s, performing at onetime Church Street hotspot Daisy’s Basement, when live jazz was a draw for downtown audiences. 

“We played four or five times a week,” Piszczek says. “Always original music, and we packed the place.”

Daisy’s closed in 1983, and while rumors of new jazz venues flew in the ensuing years, nothing happened until Piszczek and Cortez, after exploring opportunities in other parts of the country, returned to Orlando. 

They opened Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts this past July, nestled in what is being called the SOFA district (South On Fairbanks Avenue). With 4 Rivers Smokehouse, the new Lombardi’s Seafood and several small recording studios in close proximity, traffic—and attention—is starting to come to this stretch of Winter Park.

In an extensively renovated space that once housed a woodworking shop and a granite supply company, Blue Bamboo is a 4,000 square-foot room large enough for big band jazz and chamber orchestras. 

“There is insanely good music in this town,” Piszczek says. The opening concert with the Orlando Jazz Orchestra was sold out. “You couldn’t have found a better big band performance anywhere on Earth.”

Blue Bamboo Center
1905 Kentucky Ave.,
Winter Park
bluebambooartcenter.com

​Piszczek writes for jazz and classical ensembles and orchestras. He leads the jazz and avant-garde group Strange Angels, which features some of the best players in town. Guitarist/vocalist Cortez and his assorted bands—including The New Thing, and Chris Cortez and Friends—play what he calls “hot eclectic jazz,” and he operates the Blue Bamboo record label, which he started in 1986. Painter Melody Cortez, Chris’ wife, is director of operations and the voice you hear when the phone is answered.

“I need a place to play, simple as that,” Chris Cortez says. “Blue Bamboo is part altruistic, part selfish.”

The range of events at Blue Bamboo have included appearances by guitar legend Larry Coryell and New Orleans trumpeter Nicholas Payton, the Lakewood Chamber Players and concerts from the Accidental Music Festival. Local jazz giants such as Daniel Jordan and Dave Pate get to play their own music to appreciative and sometimes awestruck audiences.

“We sank our retirement next egg into this space,” says Cortez. “It’s an emotional investment. We took the leap.”

— JOSEPH HAYES

Orlando's Music Beat: Part 1  |  Orlando's Music Beat: Part 2  |  Live Music Guide  |  Blue Bamboo Center

Edit Module
Want to read the whole issue? Download and read this issue and others on Magzter.

Add your comment:
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags

Guides & Resources

2017 Premier Veterinarians

The 2017 Pet Guide: Pet Resource Guide

Here are some of the places you can go in Central Florida when you need supplies, products and services for your best friends.

Premier Realtors 2017

Let Orlando's best realtors help you find your dream home!

Orlando's Best Lawyers 2017

Our annual list includes hundreds of Orlando-area attorneys in dozens of areas of practice.

Orlando's Top Dentists of 2017

Our annual list featuring 224 of the area's finest dental professionals.

Guide to Private Schools 2017

Our searchable annual database will help you chart an educational course for your family.

2016 Premier Doctors

Our annual list of over 500 doctors.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

MoreRecent Blog Posts

Meeting With Fashion

Orlando magazine writer Maddy Zollo Rusbosin talks with Stacee Michelle, wardrobe stylist and fashion correspondent.

Weekend Happenings Sep 22 to 24

Know what's happening in and around Orlando for the weekend.

Balm After the Storm

Call us captivated by a stellar 'La Mancha' at Shakespeare Theater and an intriguing art exhibit at OMA.

Decorating for Kids with Nature and Blue Hues

Houzz Study Shows Kids Love Nature Themes and the Blue Bedrooms.

Weekend Happenings Sep 15 to 17

Know what's happening in and around Orlando for the weekend.
Edit Module