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

Guide to Private Schools 2019

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

Top Doctors 2018

The Annual List of the Top Doctors in Orlando.

Best Doctors 2018

The Annual List of the Best Doctors in Orlando.

Orlando's Top Chiropractors of 2018

Check out our 2018 list of some of the best chiropractors in the Orlando area.

2018 Premier Veterinarians

The 2018 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 2018

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

MoreRecent Blog Posts

#ArtfulEpcot: What's New at the 2019 Epcot International Festival of the Arts

This surprise sleeper hit of the Epcot festival lineup returns for 39 days of dazzling displays in visual, performing and culinary arts.

Health Hub: Make 2019 Your Healthiest Year Yet

The New Year is a time for change. If there’s a piece of your puzzle missing, what simple changes might help bring the picture into focus?

Second-Hand Santa

Harry Pecunia Jr. wants to top the 2,300 toys collected last year for kids less fortunate. Can you help?

Ultimate Cure Bowl Experience Sweepstakes

Enter today to win the ultimate bowl experience for you and three of your friends!

Kid Kontributor of the Month - Jake's Journey, Part 3

Read about Jake's Journey from the launch of Kid Kontributor of the Month "to infinity and beyond!"
Edit Module