Arts & Culture

Jazz Ensemble’s Salsa Night Connects us All

Luís Escobar, staff writer 

Photo of Vincent Rosa-Chavez, left, Rafael Rodriguez, right, and Augsburg Jazz ensemble on Oct. 27. Courtesy of J’Mariyoun Jordan. 

Los Estados Unidos tiene una historia rica con música de Latinoamérica, y Augsburg’s artistas musicales, con el Coro trajo todo, y más, a nuestra comunidad. “This is our music, Latin America is here,” as stated by Rafael Rodriguez, Augsburg’s orchestra and jazz director. The Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Chorus at Augsburg have been performing for years, with songs from across the globe and on a vast spectrum of culture and artistry. On Salsa Night, they presented an arrangement of music from Latin America including mambos, boleros and of course salsa, bringing the history, culture and power of music to the forefront. 

On Oct. 27, the Satern Auditorium could be heard playing soft jazz tunes, easing the audience until the performers had made their way to the stage; Rodriguez quickly making an entrance with the opening song “Mambo Gozon,” where student vocalist Vincent Rosa-Chavez and guest percussionist Jonathan Alarcrón made their entrance. Anticipation of rhythm, zeal of the music, everyone in the audience could feel all of it from the performers. It was one of the most beautiful and vivid performances I have witnessed on stage. 

After an introduction of the music and the history of salsa, audience members were invited to learn how to dance to salsa to make the experience feel more authentic, an experience I hadn’t had since childhood. It didn’t take long for myself and others to get into the feel, the patterns of the music with the steps that were taught. “Aguanile” performed by Héctor Lavoe and senior vocalist Ashely Litzinger. Now taught how to interact with the music, parents and students alike were allowed to feel the music, understand its importance and power, a raw human experience. Rhythmic and gentle percussion accompanied Litzinger and el Coro, Jonathan Alarcón giving his all on the drum set. 

Salsa music has been developed in Cuba with inspirations from Africa, before making an appearance in Puerto Rico, and finally making its home in New York City. Instruments transformed to fit the New York jazz scene, with strings, brass and reed instruments being slowly introduced into the genre to embody modern salsa. With the establishment of machismo culture in the Latin American countries, music was the only way for men to express their emotional state intimately. It has been making history in our own country for generations, leading movements, bringing joy and fulfillment to people across both the Americas. 

“Puedo Fallar,” a slower song, opened up with a solo by freshman Jarrod Haus and vocals sung by Vincent Chavez. To some, the choice may have been unconventional, but the artistry in each note, each lyric was rich and only heightened the experience of the concert. Audience members were enamored with Chavez’s performance, delivering each line with intent. Pribbenow had also made an appearance, another demonstration of the unity that music provides in a community. 

Finally, the concert had ended with “Un Verano en Nueva York,” Litzinger back on vocals, and everyone out of their seats to embrace the music one last time.