By David Villegas
The Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt presented its Puentes Latin Jazz Ensemble at the Jazz Showcase inside Dearborn Station.
On Nov. 6, Scott Mason, who is the head of jazz and contemporary music program, started the performance off with a brief speech to get the event started.
“We are thrilled to present the CCPA Puentes Latin Jazz Ensemble at the Jazz Showcase,” said Mason, as he introduced the audience to the musicians.
“Give a warm welcome the director of the CCPA Puentes Latin Jazz Ensemble, Ruben P. Alvarez,” Mason added.
Ruben P. Alvarez, who teaches percussion at Roosevelt, as well as Columbia College Chicago and Prairie State College, started off the show by praising the students of CCPA.
“Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts is as valuable as it can be. What I mean by that is the CCPA let its students honor themselves with the chance to learn about music from around the world,” said Alvarez.
Alvarez said “he is grateful that Roosevelt’s music program includes Latin music to its CCPA students because so few schools teach Latin music as a part of their performance programs.”
Naomi Ayala, who played the congas as well as vocals for the ensemble, introduced the ensemble performers to the audience members.
The ensemble is made up of Kenthaney Redmond on flute and alto saxophone, Bartholomew Coyle on trumpet, Matthew Frazzetto on trombone, Alexander Frazzetto on bass, Phineas Gleber on timbales and cajon, Derek Briones on bongo and guiro and Brooke Boxrud on piano.
“I believe that students from CCPA can become professional musicians by learning how to play music from around the globe,” said Alvarez.
The CCPA Puentes Latin Jazz Ensemble played six pieces, showcasing their talent as they played different instruments. Each of the musicians that performed in the ensemble had a chance of doing a solo part throughout the showcase.
Halfway into the session, Alvarez described how Latin jazz gets much of its rhythm from West African music brought over by the slave trade.
He said that for this school year, the Puentes Latin Jazz Ensemble will not just play Afro-Cuban music but also Afro-Puerto Rican, Dominican as well as music from other Latin American countries.
Throughout the session the audience clapped whenever a solo part finished and sounded more cheerful as time went by.
Being the choir director, he used hand signals to make sure the ensemble were precise playing with their instruments.
He even got the audience to clap along in one of the songs performed.
Alvarez had the ensemble play at the Jazz Showcase to excite the audience into liking latin jazz which he achieved.
“I want to thank Scott Mason for helping us putting this together. I also want to thank the Jazz Showcase for hosting us,” Ayala said.