For my final blog post I wanted to discuss the broad array of Latin inspired genres and styles that find their way on to brass chamber music performances constantly. There is great interest both from a performer’s aspect and certainly from an audience’s perspective in getting to perform and listen to Latin genres performed. There are groups that are both dedicated to playing only Latin music genres as well as those that just frequent them such as the Boston Brass or the Alberti Brass. Utilizing Latin genres is a great way to break up a program and give the audience an engaging experience in a different presentation of Western art music than usual. More and more frequently Latin styled pieces are being published and arranged making it easier to perform works from a wide array of genres. I would highly recommend to any performers to investigate the possibility of performing more of these pieces.
I want to leave you with a couple more recordings that I hadn’t gotten a chance to write about but are worth listening to.
Throughout my blog I have frequently mentioned musicians and ensembles who are both part of Venezuela’s El Sistema or came out of the program. I wanted to spend one of my last posts discussing El Sistema due to its importance in the brass world and global music world.
El Sistema was founded in 1975 by Venezuelan music educator Jose Antonio Abreu. The goal of this program is to reach underprivileged and potentially “at risk” youth and incorporate them into orchestras and other music programs to teach art and team building skills. Starting in 1976, due to the programs success it began to be fully government funded. The program has given hundreds of thousands of young musicians an opportunity to perform for their community and abroad. Some of the notable prestigious ensembles within El Sistema are the Simon Bolivar Orchestra, the Caracas Youth Symphony, Orchestra Simon Bolivar Latin Caribbean, and the Venezuelan Brass Ensemble.
There has been a push to incorporate this kind of social program in countries globally as a way to spread the arts and build a musical culture.
Astor Piazzolla (1921 – 1992) was a renown tango composer who was born in Argentina. Brass players have long enjoyed performing Piazzolla’s works and Libertango has become standard repertoire for many brass ensembles and quintets. In 2009 the quintet Alberti Brass recorded the album Angel that consisted of only works by Astor Piazzolla.
My last post consisted of various recordings of different latin jazz band performances. One of the most influential and successful latin jazz performers is Arturo Sandoval. Sandoval is a jazz trumpeter that was born in Cuba in 1949 toured with Dizzy Gillespie. He has won 10 Grammy Awards, 6 Billboard Awards and one Emmy, as well as receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2014.
Latin Jazz has been gaining popularity in the past decade and now it is hard to find a jazz festival that doesn’t have a Latin Jazz band or two at it. To give extra punctuation to these styles the brass is usually utilized quite prominently to sting out rhythms. Take a look at these Latin Jazz performances.
After recently posting on the Mariachi tradition, I wanted to take note of a popular artist that was inspired by this tradition. Herb Alpert was an american trumpeter/singer/songwriter who saw a mariachi band at a bullfight on a trip to Mexico and wished to make music that inspired the enthusiasm that the ensemble pulled from the crowd.
Herb Alpert self funded the project for his first hit “The Lonely Bull” which he overdubbed multiple trumpet parts in a mariachi style. Eventually, Herb Alpert would hire a group of studio musicians to perform live with him and formed the Tijuana Brass. The Tijuana Brass would end up receiving six Grammy’s during their time and would lead to many other Latin themed ensembles.
Samba is a Brazilian musical style that was derived from African religious traditions. It is typically in 2/4 and uses a batucada rhythm.
The samba is now frequently used in popular music and is often correlated to the Brazilian Carnival.
An example of the samba in brass music is “Alpine Samba” by Derek Broadbent for brass band. Here it is played by Nationale Jugend Brass Band der Schweiz.
Mariachi is in reference to a genre of traditional Mexican folk music. Mariachi bands often vary on size depending on the availability of musicians, though the standard size for a full mariachi band is 12 members with 6 violins, 3 trumpets, 1 guitarron, 1 guitar and 1 vihuela. However, often there are variations on these ensembles with additional brass, specifically trombones and tuba (or often a sousaphone.) Mariachi is often used for parties, celebrations and festivals, but is also seen in the Catholic Church for masses.
M5 Mexican Brass are a brass quintet from mexico founded in 2005. The members are Alexander Freund and Oscar Villegas Miranda on trumpets, Juan Carlos Quiterio Miguel on horn, Roberto Carlos Cruz on trombone, and Jose Lopez Juarez on tuba. They have performed throughout the world and often engage in educational shows.
Both composer and trombonist, Enrique Crespo was born in 1941 in Uruguay. He is a notable south american musician who has contributed greatly to the brass repertoire. As a member of the German Brass Ensemble, he frequently composes and arranges works for chamber brass. Crespo is a flexible composer that writes in a variety of styles, though he does frequently return to his roots. Notably in his work for brass quintet Suite Americaine. .