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Cuban music comprised of instruments, dance and performance constitutes a wider set of different traditions influenced mostly by West African and European music. Cuban music represents mostly the syncretic aspect of the music and the derivative genres, and it is accepted as one of the most influential and richest regional music of the world. Cuban music has led to the creation and growth of music styles and genres across the world, for example, Salsa, Rhumba, Afro-Cuban jazz, flamenco, soukous and Africando (Ake, Garrett & Goldmark, 2012).
On May 15, 2014, the Jazz and Afro Ensemble at Cuyamaca College in San Diego was more than a music concert. The richness of the music was exhibited by the seamless coordination of instrumentalists in the background. Under the guidance of Derek Cannon and John Reynolds the Thursday, May 15 event was presented by the Grossmont Music Department. The Saxophonists consisted of the highly talented Chaz Cabrera, Austin Gatas, John Avery, Alex Lopez, and Nathan James Andrew with trumpeters being Armando Silva Dominic Leak, Elija Deslouches and Chelsea Banales. Injecting the trombone sound were Banales Zach Armstrong, Katie Quijada with bass skillfully produced by Mike Romero. Eileen Conway, Linnea Tatupu, Vincente Malave, Kengo Ito and Abran Gurrola struck us with the percussion. Gifted guitarist Zori Tinker strummed the concert into perspective. Lastly, the pianist Austin Pacheco-Timmerman complemented the whole instrumentalist group (Ake & Goldmark, 2012).
The Jazz and Afro-Cuban Ensembles performed five stylistically different pieces that gave the eager audience the different sounds of jazz music. The jazz music like all genres of music presents a story and here the stories were Mama Guela, Conga Mulence, Blues Walk, Oclupaca and Suavemente. The College’s rendition of Suavemente by Elvis Crespo gave the Latin touch on Jazz. In the instrumentalist rendition of Elvis Crespo’s song, a Latin-influenced consonance set the mood at the start of the song. A saxophone and piano were alternating in the melody of the song. As the upbeat of the song picked up, the touch altered within the song as the saxophone took the melody and various instruments within the ensemble were in accompaniment. The rhythm moved from the continuously steady tempo to a faster heart beat-like as the song climaxed. At that point, the dynamics of the Suavemente were rising and getting louder to the point of all instruments striking together at the crescendo with a bang. Then, the dynamics of the song shifted again to a temperate level pending the end of the song (Leymarie, 2002).
“Oclupacca," by Duke Ellington cover that was Ellington jazz song under the direction of Wynton Marsalis presented a consonant, slow beat tango. The feel of this piece was supported through its duration and the one, two, three designs were visibly recognizable throughout the piece. The trumpet, saxophone and electric guitar alternated at the melody and maintained so through the presentation in the form of solos. A noticeable phenomenon was the dynamics of the song. The band did a fantastic task of keeping up with the beat (Sweeney & Rough Guides, 2001).
“Congo Mulence” by A.K. Salim is a standard level big band arrangement showcasing solos for alto saxophone and trumpet. The A.K. Salim composed song rendered by the Grossmont Jazz and Afro-Cuban Ensembles. The song was played during the night by trumpeters Armando Silva Dominic Leak, Elija Deslouches and Chelsea Banales. The piece started by creating very dissonant tones inside the harmony with the introduction of drums and a piano. The song then shifted into an increasing consonant harmony that was supported all through the rest of the song. The quality of the song was polyphonic amid the trumpet and piano (Ake, Garrett & Goldmark,, 2012).
The rendition of “Blues Walk” by Clifford Brown and influential Jazz counterpart Max Roach was released in their 1955 album. The cover for the Clifford Brown song was passionate and appealing and showcased dialogue without use of words. The song was played by the ensemble with steadiness. Listening to the song created the much needed rapport with the audience. The song was strikingly different from other jazz genres that are played during other concerts (Sweeney & Rough Guides, 2001). The cover for “Mama Guela," by Tito Rodriguez was a stunning piece although it had a lot of repetition. Eileen Conway, Linnea Tatupu, Vincente Malave, Kengo Ito and Abran Gurrola original bass drum beat announced the song in concise but infectious rhythm pattern. The band members joined the swelling sound with the percussion crew permeating into African percussion. The talented guitars Zori Tinker strummed the melody into perfection. The band voice in full expression was stirring and reconciled well with the genteel surrounding of the theatre.
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The chamber music ensemble constituted of two to around twelve players and each player was assigned a part. The performance by Grossmont College exhibited different organization with each member assigned a specific part all through the concert. Under the guidance of Derek Cannon and John Reynolds the Thursday, May 15 event was presented by the Grossmont Music Department. Designated saxophonists consisted of the highly talented Chaz Cabrera, Austin Gatas, John Avery, Alex Lopez, and Nathan James Andrew. Assigned trumpeters included Armando Silva Dominic Leak, Elija Deslouches and Chelsea Banales. With no overlapping roles, the trombone players were Banales Zach Armstrong, Katie Quijada. Mike Romero played the bass. Percussion was delivered by Eileen Conway, Linnea Tatupu, Vincente Malave, Kengo Ito and Abran Gurrola. Lastly, guitarist Zori Tinker completed the ensemble. The above was a meticulous organization satisfying chamber music requirements. The players were able to show intimacy in the music. The chamber music ensemble by Grossmont consisted of string players. The combination of piano with larger groups with wind instruments made the ensemble pull off most of the covers. The woodwind and brass quintets helped bring out the jazz element in the chosen pieces (Austerlitz, 2005).