Latin rhythms meld with jazz in 'The Clavé Connection'
Infectious Latin rhythms that make hips sway and feet dance will dominate Purdue’s entertainment scene when Purdue Convocations presents Danilo Perez on Friday, Nov. 16, and the Purdue Jazz Band presents “The Clavé Connection” on Saturday, Nov. 17.
Pianist Danilo Perez and his Motherland Band, known as one of the most successful Latin/jazz fusions since Dizzy Gillespie in the 1940s, kick things off at 8 p.m. Nov. 17 in Loeb Playhouse. Tickets can be purchased by calling 494-3933.
The spotlight turns to Purdue’s own jazz program on Saturday as four bands keep the rhythm going in an exploration of the clavé, a rhythmic element essential to Latin jazz. “The Clavé Connection” is set for 8 p.m. in Loeb Playhouse. Admission is free.
Think percussion when you define “clavé” (pronounced clah-vay), says Purdue Jazz Studies Director M.T. “Mo” Trout, because they are the small hardwood sticks struck together to create the rhythmic patterns that give Latin American music its characteristic sound.
Beyond identifying the instrument itself, term clavé has come to have a wider meaning and is now synonymous with a repeated, connecting rhythm that acts as a unifying device in Latin and Afro-Cuban music. On Saturday, “we’ll look at the different ways clavé is used in jazz – both traditional clavé and unconventional uses of it,” Trout says.
No one but a jazz historian like Trout might think to connect Latin clavé rhythms with the zany “Charleston” sound of the 1920s. But it was in that era “that Jelly Roll Morton first thought that jazz ought to have a Latin twinge - a clavé,” Trout says, and the “Charleston” and flapper music are examples of that.
In the 1940s Dizzy Gillespie began a serious fusion of Latin with bebop and modern jazz when he started playing around with Cuban rhythms. “Manteca” was one of Gillespie’s first big hits in the new fusion of Latin with jazz and the Purdue Jazz Band will perform it on Saturday.
All together there are four jazz bands on the show headed by the Purdue Jazz Band. Concert-goers will also hear the Lab Jazz Band and Concert Jazz Band from Purdue, and the Harrison High School Jazz Band.
The exploration of clavé rhythms will also include such pieces as “The Gentle Rain” written in bossa nova style, “Petaluma Lu” using samba rhythms, and Pat Methany’s “It’s Just Talk” which features a modern version of clavé.
“It’s Just Talk,” is Purdue senior Jeremy Perigo’s favorite tune on the concert and offers him a solo spot on tenor saxophone. “It has a Latin/fusion groove to it and I love it. There’s an extended improved solo over some difficult chord changes that is a lot of fun to play,” he says.
Perigo, a management major from Lafayette says the band’s looking forward to the concert. “In Latin jazz the complex rhythms are so essential to making the charts (written music) ‘happen.’ It’s a great feeling to have the band playing syncopated rhythms very tightly. It’s also exciting to improvise over Latin rhythms,” he says.
The Harrison High School graduate is also looking forward to having the Harrison’s jazz band on stage. “I have so many great memories of the Harrison jazz band. Mr. Cotten was a great instructor and we all had a blast playing jazz,” he recalls.
Harrison’s band department, led by Steve Cotten, is participating in Purdue University Band’s “Partners in Education” program this year. One of the program’s goals is to encourage high school students to stay with music, and Perigo says the “role model” status he finds himself feels good.
“I think that I could maybe be an example to Harrison students that are not going to pursue a music degree, showing them that they can still play at a pretty high level, have a good time and entertain some people while studying something else than music,” Perigo says.