Musica Latina: Salsa and Latin Jazz Ensemble to play Lincoln Hall

The only way to truly experience the color and excitement of Latin music is to witness its performance live. The Portland State Salsa and Latin Jazz Ensemble performs in concert this Tuesday, May 3, from noon to 1 p.m. in Lincoln Hall room 37.

The show will be the band’s one and only appearance in this term’s Jazz Noon Concert Series and will showcase two of the ensemble’s new merengue tunes, instrumental arrangements and vocal pieces. The concert is free for PSU students and the public alike.

The PSU Salsa and Latin Jazz Ensemble is one of two large university bands that perform jazz and its offspring: salsa, funk and big band. Both bands are open to students in the PSU School of Music and all students at PSU. Students from many backgrounds participate in the two groups.

Mario Sandoval, the Salsa and Latin Jazz Ensemble director and a graduate student-professor, described the content of the band’s repertoire.

“I believe that if we had to coin a moniker for the ensemble, then that would be ‘eclectic,’” Sandoval said. “Expect to hear these musicians play at the top of their game. This is our final term, and the musicians of this ensemble have been working all year on their craft. This concert will be the best setting to see this band live.”

Salsa music is well-known around the world for its exciting, complex rhythms and its provocative, infectious harmonies. The sophistication of the arrangements, however, invites not only dancing but also close listening.

“Our goal is to make sure every performance has something for everyone and that they take away with them a great experience and continue their Latin music exposure,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval said that the PSU ensemble, while under the umbrella of Latin musical genres, is first a training ground for student musicians who want to go into the Portland and Pacific Northwest music communities with the skills to perform as musicians at the peak of their abilities in an informed manner. The PSU Salsa and Latin Jazz Ensemble serves as an inclusive and diverse community setting with the objective of instructing students on what Latin music is and the cultural and social implications of its origins.

“Salsa music involves a large ensemble and music that is meant to make the listener feel good, and if the need arises, to dance,” Sandoval said.

The genre of Latin music encompasses a wide range of styles and subgenres, all forms of music originating in Latin-speaking countries. Its distinguishing characteristic is its rhythm, forged of multiple layers of percussion syncopated with the clave pattern. The beats are contagious and irresistible, with hammering central tempos accentuated by dissonant peripheral bells.

Concertgoers can expect to hear compositions from Tito Puente, Mambo Kings and Carlos Santana, to name a few. The student ensemble has primed all year for this performance, and the individual talents among this crew constitute professional-level musical capabilities.

Get a preview of the sounds of the PSU salsa band:
PSU Salsa and Latin Jazz Ensemble at Live at Lunch, Fall 2015