Jazz and JawbonesGAMBIER, Ohio (January 29, 2008) What would a Kenyon jazz musician be doing with a donkey's jawbone? Call it a quijada, think percussion, and prepare for a night of music that blends two rich cultures.
The Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet is coming to campus, bringing jazz virtuosity mixed with the sound-colors and rhythms of coastal Peru. Students in the College's jazz ensemble will join the group on stage for part of the concert.
The performance takes place on Tuesday, February 5, at 7:00 p.m. in Rosse Hall. The concert is free and open to the public.
Led by trumpetist-composer (and Kenyon graduate) Gabriel Alegria, the sextet incorporates standard jazz instrumentation but adds to the texture with styles and percussion instruments that originated in Peru's black slave culture. There's the cajón, for example, a hollow box with a sound-hole, which the musician sits on and slaps, bongo-style. (At first, they were made from shipping crates.) There's the cajita, a box with a lid that the player rhythmically slaps shut while hitting the box with a stick. And there's the quijada, a donkey jawbone with rattling molars.
Kenyon has bought samples of all three instruments, so that students can practice with them in preparation for the concert, then have them on hand for future use.
A native of Lima, Peru, who graduated from Kenyon in 1993, Alegria has received a good deal of attention for his fusion of traditional jazz and Afro-Peruvian sounds. "He's doing with jazz and Afro-Peruvian music what jazz musicians in the 1950s were doing with jazz and Brazilian music, or jazz and Afro-Cuban music," said Ted Buehrer, associate professor of music and director of the Kenyon jazz ensemble.
Members of the jazz ensemble will work with the sextet over the course of three days, then join them on stage during the second half of the concert. That part of the program will feature several numbers for jazz combo, along with several for big band. For the big-band pieces, faculty and community musicians will join the sextet and the students.
Alegria, who teaches jazz studies at New York University, is currently touring the United States and Canada with his sextet. Performances include pieces from their newest recording, Nuevo Mundo. The group last appeared at Kenyon in 2006.