Monday Jazz Series: Bong Peñera

Bong Peñera

The Monday Night Concert Series continues with “September Samba” with pianist Bong Penera at 7 p.m. Monday, September 26, at the Oak Park Arms retirement community, 408 S. Oak Park Ave. The Monday Night Concert Series features free concerts to the public featuring outstanding local soloists and small ensembles, primarily duos and trios.

Penera and his various band incarnations under the name Batucada (Brazilian Portuguese for the word “beat”) are considered the main proponent of Brazilian-influenced Philippine jazz, particularly Samba and bossa nova. His most famous original composition, “A Samba Song,”© is now like Jobim’s “Girl From Ipanema,” a staple in every local performer’s repertoire.

Born José Elías Peñera, he plays his personal style of Samba music in hotels, clubs and other venues throughout Chicagoland. Panera had an international jazz band, probably the first to ever receive an hour spot of radio exposure at WBEZ, the Chicago Public Radio jazz hour hosted at the time by Larry Smith.

Whenever or wherever he played piano or acoustic guitar, either as sideman or band leader, or as solo artist, and wherever he sang while he played, images of Sergio Mendes filled the air. Peñera and his Batucada dominated the music scene of the late ’70s and early ’80s. His music is played on radio air waves and interpreted by countless other musicians and aspiring artists.

In 2010, at ceremonies held at the Hyatt Regency downtown Chicago, Panera was inducted into the Chicago Filipino American Hall of Fame, a prestigious recognition of his musical works. He accepted the award/crystal trophy from Illinois Secretary of State Jessie White and Philippine Consul General Blessila Cabrera.

Oak Park Arms Senior Living is a rental retirement community which provides senior housing in the form of independent living. Furnished apartments are also available for a short-term stay – a weekend, a week, a month or longer.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information call 708-386-4040.