Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

January 10, 2001

Whitworth Jazz Ensemble Travels to Cuba for Infusion of Jazz, Culture

Multitudes of jazz aficionados will spend almost 18 hours this month watching Ken Burns' acclaimed documentary, Jazz, on public television. But the Whitworth College Jazz Ensemble will have to wait for the video version. The group of talented musicians is heading to Havana, Cuba, to absorb first-hand the cultural and historical richness of jazz, and to burn through a few tunes with some of Cuba's finest jazz musicians.

The sixteen-member jazz ensemble and its director, Whitworth Music Professor Dan Keberle, will spend nine days in Havana, where the group will join forces with five musicians from the University of Havana to give two performances at a Havana jazz club and two performances at the university. In addition, several Cuban jazz musicians will perform as featured soloists with the group. The Whitworth Jazz Ensemble will also attend a master class led by a jazz percussionist from the University of Havana.

"Havana is a place that Americans know so little about," Keberle says. "I thought since the ensemble has traveled to Rome, Munich and Australia on previous trips, Cuba would be something totally different both culturally and socially. Plus, the country has a long and deep history in jazz music and the development of jazz."

According to Keberle, Latin jazz was born when the legendary Dizzy Gillespie hired Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo to play in Gillespie's band during the 1940s. Gillespie learned a variety of Cuban dance music styles from Pozo and fused them with jazz to create such famous tunes as Manteca and A Night in Tunisia.

Ensemble members and Keberle are eagerly anticipating their first visit to Cuba.

"I have been told that Cuba is home to one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world," Keberle says. "I hope the ensemble members will make great friends with Cuban musicians and that they will make great music for the Cuban people to enjoy."

The Whitworth Jazz Ensemble has won first place five times since 1994 at the annual Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival. In recent years the group has performed in concert at Whitworth with guest artists including Bob Mintzer, Joe Lovano, and Slide Hampton. The ensemble has also performed in Germany with Munich University of Music jazz students, in Italy with top Italian jazz recording artists, and in Australia at the Melbourne Jazz Festival. Last fall the ensemble released its fourth CD, "Blues in My Shoes."

The group will depart for Cuba Sunday, Jan.14, and will return Monday, Jan. 22. Dan Keberle can be contacted for an interview prior to the 14th and after the 22nd by calling (509) 777-4582.


Dan Keberle, professor of music and director of the jazz ensemble, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4582 or dkeberle@whitworth.edu.

Julie Riddle, public information specialist, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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