Fairfield University Jazz Ensemble and Colombian harpist Edmar Castaneda in two concerts December 4


The Fairfield University Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Brian Torff, director of jazz and popular music in the Department of Visual & Performing Arts, welcomes as this year's special guest artist, Colombian jazz harpist Edmar Castaneda, for two shows on Thursday, Dec. 4 at 7:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at the Wien Experimental Theatre in the Quick Center for the Arts. Tickets are $8 general admission, $5 students.

Castaneda, who is also a band leader and composer, began playing the Colombian harp at the young age of thirteen in his hometown of Bogota. He has developed a unique style, combining Latin jazz with traditional Colombian music and as a result, has carved out a firm place in the international jazz scene.

He transforms the harp into a lead instrument to phenomenal effect; producing cross-rhythms like a drummer, smashing chordal flourishes like a flamenco guitarist and collating bebop and traditional Colombian music with a virtuosity that belies his youthful demeanor.

Torff, an associate professor and professional bassist, recently discussed Castaneda's technique with great candor, "I just performed with Edmar at Birdland and I can assure you, you have never heard the harp sound like this! He is a virtuoso and we look forward to having him work with our students."

The program includes an eclectic repertoire, including an original piece by student pianist Nate Whittaker, "Slow Me Down," "The Jody Grind" by Horace Silver, Sonny Rollins' "Tenor Madness," "More Love" by Victor Wooten, "Mo' Better Blues" arranged by student Nick Lombardi and "Edmar's Groove," featuring Castaneda on harp with percussion.

Now in his late 20s, Castaneda has performed with a long list of greats: Paquita D'Rivera, John Scofield, Wynton Marsalis, John Patitucci, Pablo Zinger, Dave Samuels, Trio De Paz, Lila Downs, Janis Siegel, the Chico O'Farrill Afro-Cuban jazz big band, among others.

The Jazz Ensemble concert is sponsored by The College of Arts and Sciences and the Fairfield University Music Program.

Tickets are available online at quickcenter.com or by calling the Box Office at (203) 254-4010. The toll free number is 1-877-ARTS-396. For further information, visit the website at quickcenter.com.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on November 13, 2008

Vol. 41, No. 136