Latin Jazz comes to the Dirty Dog with the return of Alberto Nacif’s Aguanko septet March 29 thru April 1. The band which draws on Afro-Cuban musical traditions is one of the premiere Latin groups in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area and has been internationally recognized as well.
Latin Jazz is always a favorite for most Jazz and world music fans, and music fans in general. The centuries old rhythms are so infectious especially in a live setting when it’s interesting to watch the percussion-based music being created right before your eyes and ears. Latin music is also primarily a dance-based idiom.
It’s so interesting to read about the history and role Latin music played during Jazz’s formative years with the influence of the Cuban based habanera or tango rhythm into Jazz’s basic syncopated rhythmic structure. As with most musical art forms, Latin Jazz was/is a hybrid of various styles that were fused to create a new sound.
Latin music brought together musical elements from African, Moorish, and European traditions and music from the indigenous peoples of the Americas. This art form started when Europeans began migrating to the Americas in the 16th century.
The forms contained rhythmic figures with roots in the middle east that were brought to Spain and North Africa by the Moors centuries earlier. This also included folk-loric singing styles and instrumentation that is still synonymous with Latin music today. These cultural elements were then brought into the formation of Latin Jazz.
What makes Aguanko great is the authenticity of the music under the direction of Alberto Nacif who was born in Quaxaca on the west coast of Mexico where the local music was filled with Cuban influences.
Band leader/composer Alberto Nacif and Aguanko performing at the Detroit Jazz Festival
Starting to play conga and bongos early on he moved to Detroit while in his mid-teens and immediately got involved in our city’s fervent music scene that included everything from Disco to Latin Jazz.
Soon after, he started taking lessons from and/or performing with major Latin Jazz artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Arturo Sandoval, Santana’s Armando Peraza, Danilo Perez, Manuel “Anga Diaz” from Irakere, Tomas “Panga” Ramos of Cubanismo and Jose “Pepe” Espinosa of the Afro-Cuban All-stars among others.
Here in Detroit, he led the Latin Jazz groups “Cubop”, Tumbao Bravo, and now Aguanko. This band features many of Alberto Nacif’s original compositions played by an impressive array of Detroit based talent which includes Jose “Pepe” Espinosa on percussion, Javier Barrios on timbales, pianists Wesley Reynoso and/or Rick Roe, and percussionist Nacif who round out the Latin core of the band that also features Pat Prouty on bass, Russ Miller, sax and flute, Anthony Stanco trumpet, Chris Smith trombone and others. They definitely create a percussive Latin big band sound.
This multi-award winning band will have a new album out this Spring featuring lots of Alberto Nacif’s original music performed by the core group and many guest artists from Ann Arbor and Detroit. I wouldn’t be surprised if they played some of this new music for us during their 4-night stint at the Dirty Dog. Join us and find out!
Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a trained pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM.