Don’t let his wild dyed-blond Afro fool you, pianist Axel Tosca Laugart from Cuba has skills. His appearance just lets you know he refuses to be categorized.

His collaborative quintet, (U)nity, will be pulling out all the musical stops July 20 at the Brooklyn Bowl in the Williamsburg, located at 61 Wythe Ave. Their set is at 9:30 p.m.

(U)nity’s music is saying something. It will actually grab your ears and throw you down, so pay close attention. The quintet met while studying at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. The group includes Laugart on piano and keyboards, guitarist Michael Valeanu, alto saxophonist Max Cudworth, bassist Chris Brown and drummer and music director Amaury Acosta.

“We wanted to make a fresh new sound, fusing my New York-Cuban background with Axel’s Afro-Cuban background, along with all the other sounds we loved listening to like hip-hop, R&B, blues and jazz,” said Acosta. “We wanted to do something with Cuban music that’s never been done before. Each member is a musical puzzle piece. (U)nity is a movement. We pay homage to the past, we respect and know the history, but we’re not held back by it.”

Laugart has crossed genres with such musicians as George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, Wynton Marsalis, Earth, Wind & Fire, Yosvany Terry, Bobby Carcases Group, Lenny White, Terron Gully, John Benitez, Lenny White, Roy Ayers, Femi Kuti, Ravi Coltrane, and his mother, Xiomara Laugart.

Acosta’s varied stints have included playing with Myron Walden, Sean Jones, Lonnie Plaxico, Arturo O’Farril, John Benitez, Robert Glasper, Pino Palladino, Yosvany Terry, Lew Soloff and Yunior Terry.

(U)nity’s first CD, “Peace. Love & Music,” was their first step in reaching those who want to be refreshed and inspired by the music. They are currently working on their second CD, “(U)nity is Power.”

For this sophomore CD, they will be joined by noted bassist Pino Palladino on three tracks and the vocalist Pedrito Martinez. The young flutist Elena Pinderhughes will also sit in. This young lady is really playing with all the right groups, considering she is still attending college at the Manhattan School of Music.

They are also collaborating with filmmaker Alex Linzmeier and making a documentary about the band and its creative process.

Since coming together in 2006, the group has performed at the New York Winter Jazz Fest, Zinc Bar, Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, the Highline Ballroom, the New Jersey Jazz Summit and Smalls.

For more information, visit

The 92nd Street Y has become has become a proficient entity when it comes to handling many diverse activities with an intuitive sense of creativity.

With loads of swing and improvisation, the Y will kick off its 31st annual Jazz in July festival July 21, running until July 30, with its artistic director, pianist and composer Bill Charlap.

The festival opens with “Bill & Dick’s All-Star Party,” consisting of two generations of jazz featuring Charlap’s New York Trio with Leonhart and the drummer Bill Stewart. The piano titan Dick Hyman (Trio), with guitarist Howard Alden and Leonhart, returns with special guest Anat Cohen on clarinet. The all-star cast will be romping through American Songbook classics and more.

July 22, the festival pays tribute to jazz royalty with “Duke Ellington: Drop Me Off in Harlem,” featuring the ever-swinging vocalist Ernie Andrews—a legendary vocal stylist who is underrated—always takes his audiences on his personal journey of the interpretation of jazz singing. Being from the West Coast, he rarely appears on the New York scene, so make haste to the box office.

The soul of Andrews will be embellished with the sounds of the tenor saxophonist Houston Person and an ensemble with trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, pianists Renee Rosnes and Charlap, bassist Peter Washington, drummer Kenny Washington and Steve Nelson on vibes.

July 23 features a big show of pianos with “Piano Icons: From Jelly Roll to Oscar,” featuring the pianists Marcus Roberts, Charlap and Jeb Patton. Drummer Willie Jones III and bassist Todd Coolman will accompany the rhythms and melodies of those who are carrying the keys tradition.

The festival’s finale ends on a high note July 30 with “Benny, Basie & Bucky,” a high voltage homage to legends clarinetist Benny Goodman, pianist Count Basie and guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli. The able ensemble representing the legendary tradition will feature clarinetist Ken Peplowski, vocalist Sandy Stewart, Joe Locke on vibes, Pizzarelli on guitar, Leonhart on bass, Charlap on piano and drummer Dennis Mackrel.

For a complete schedule and ticket information, visit or call 212-415-5500.