February 8, 2006
Whitworth Jazz Ensemble Performs in Brazil during Study-Abroad Program
In January the Whitworth Jazz Ensemble packed its instruments and a repertoire of American jazz favorites and headed south to Brazil, where the group participated in a Whitworth Jan Term study-abroad program. Under the direction of Whitworth Professor of Music Dan Keberle and Assistant Professor of Music Brent Edstrom, the 25-member ensemble performed American jazz music in cities across the country and learned about Brazilian culture.
In Sao Paolo, the largest city in South America with a population of 17-million people, the ensemble performed at the Unified Education Center with guest artist Ed Fogasa, a Brazilian tenor saxophonist. The CEU is a community center located in the heart of a low-income region of the city. Hundreds of children, along with their parents and family members, made their way from the center's outdoor swimming pool to the auditorium to take in the ensemble's performance of modern American big-band jazz.
"For many, this was the first time they had ever heard an American jazz band in person," Keberle says.
From Sao Paulo the ensemble traveled to Salvador, where it performed as the opening group in the 14th annual Festival of Instrumental Music in Bahia, held in the Castro Alves Theatre. The modern, 1,500-seat theatre is home to the Salvador Symphony Orchestra and host to other prominent musical groups.
The Whitworth Jazz Ensemble performed Keberle's arrangements of Thelonius Monk's I Mean You, featuring Edstrom on the piano, Kenny Garrett's Doc Tones Short Speech and Sing a Song of Songs, Count Basie's Cherry Point and Jumpin' at the Woodside, Duke Ellington's Caravan, the ballads Lover Man and My Funny Valentine, and five other selections. The ensemble's performance was received with two standing ovations from an enthusiastic crowd of more than 1,000 people.
During the following days, Keberle and Edstrom presented lectures to Brazilian students and professional musicians. Keberle lectured on the history of American big-band jazz , and Edstrom presented a lecture and demonstration on the history of jazz piano.
In addition to performing American jazz music, Whitworth students absorbed Brazilian music and culture.
"The students had to speak Portuguese to most people," Keberle says. "They learned about Brazilian food, music, religion, history and culture as they lived in each city."
The students heard authentic samba, bossa nova and choro bands in various jazz clubs around Sao Paolo and Salvador. They visited the Museum of Arts of Sao Paolo, the Old Town Market of Salvador, and the Praia do Forte, a sea-turtle refuge and scientific research center on the beach north of Salvador. Students also attended a performance by the Folklore Ballet of Bahia, which showcased folk music of Brazilian natives and African slaves.
The Whitworth Jazz Ensemble has won first place five times since 1996 at the University of Idaho 's annual Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival. In recent years the group has performed in concert at Whitworth with guest artists including Bob Mintzer, Joe Lovano, Slide Hampton, Nicholas Payton, Kenny Garrett, Phil Woods, and Gene Harris.
The ensemble has also performed in Germany with Munich University of Music jazz students, in Italy with top Italian jazz recording artists, in Australia at the Melbourne Jazz Festival, and in Cuba with University of Havana jazz students and Cuban musicians. The ensemble has produced five CDs in the past 10 years; the most recent is Whitworth Jazz Ensemble 2004.
Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college enrolls 2,400 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.
Daniel Keberle, director of the Whitworth Jazz Ensemble and professor of music, (509) 777- 4582 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Julie Riddle, public information officer, (509) 777-3729 or email@example.com.