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Performing percussion with a Latin Tinge

The concert was centered on the genre of Latin jazz pieces. (Rachel Keslosky/The Snapper)
The concert was centered on the genre of Latin jazz pieces. (Rachel Keslosky/The Snapper)

Rachel Keslosky
Photography Editor

The Millersville University Department of Music presented a performance by Professor James Armstrong this past Sunday. Entitled “With a Latin Tinge,” Armstrong was accompanied by four other musicians: Danny Stuber, a Harrisburg native on piano; Michael Vitale, a Millersville alum on bass guitar; John Peifer, a drum instructor at Drums Etc. performing on drum set; and Dr. Keith Wiley, a Millersville Dept. of Music director on horn.

The concert was centered on the genre of Latin jazz pieces. (Rachel Keslosky/The Snapper)
The concert was centered on the genre of Latin jazz pieces. (Rachel Keslosky/The Snapper)

The concert was centered on the genre of Latin jazz pieces. Armstrong performed on a number of different instruments such as the steel drum and vibraphone instead of instruments that are usually seen in the jazz industry, like the saxophone and trombone. The program began with Armstrong reciting words from a West African religious tradition (Awolalu?) and transitioned into “Africa” by John Coltrane, who was at the forefront of making changes to the jazz industry. Sea Journey, originally titled “Song for Sally,” by Armando Anthony “Chick” Corea had a much more upbeat groove to it than did Africa.
Oyelo Que Te Conviene, composed by Grammy award-winning, prolific composer Eddie Palmieri, utilized the steel drum instead of the brass instruments the work was originally composed for. Dr. Wiley then joined the ensemble for the fourth piece, Footprints by Wayne Shorter. Many of the pieces composed by Shorter have become standards in the jazz industry.
Following Footprints, the ensemble performed All Blues. The piece’s composer, Miles Davis, is considered to be an influential musician of his time. To continue with the “blue” train was a piece called Blue Bossa, by Kenny Dorham. This composer did not receive as much attention from the world of jazz unlike many of his peers. To end the night, Armstrong and company performed Philadelphia Mambo, which was composed by Ernesto Antonio “Tito” Puente. He is considered to be a musician under the genre of American Mambo as well as Latin Jazz. Armstrong noted that this piece has only been recorded twice: once by the original composer, and a second time by Cal Tjader, who was a non-Latino Latin jazz musician. At the conclusion of the concert Armstrong said, “Support live music, don’t let it die.”

Armstrong played the vibraphone. (Rachel Keslosky/The Snapper)
Armstrong played the vibraphone. (Rachel Keslosky/The Snapper)

There are many upcoming percussive events that are being presented by Millersville’s music department. On Oct. 29 at 7:30 p.m., She-e Wu—an associate professor of percussion at Northwestern University will be performing a solo concert. Portal Percussion, a premier chamber ensemble in Central Pennsylvania, will be showcased at the Ware Center on Nov. 1 at 3:00 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m. is the World Percussion Concert featuring the West African Drum and Dance Ensemble. The annual Fall Percussion Extravaganza will follow on Nov. 22 at 2:30pm. All of the aforementioned events are free to current Millersville students with ID.
For a list of all upcoming music department events, please visit http://bit.ly/1WYgbub.

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