The Afro-Cuban All Stars lit up the State Theatre last night, bringing a little Latin spice to a State College crowd.
The 15-piece Cuban orchestra gave Pennsylvania a taste of its world famous jazz-fusion style, combining traditional Latin music with a modern jazz twist.
Led by decorated jazz musician Juan de Marcos, The Afro-Cuban All Stars bring a different style to the stage. The first step in creating this unique sound is a variation in traditional instrumentation Nick Toma, president of the Penn State Jazz Club, said.
“It has the same roots as jazz so there’s a lot of complex music,” Toma (senior-neuroscience) said. “It has Cuban influence in terms of Latin rhythms and Latin instruments. With Latin and Cuban jazz, you see a lot more instruments percussion-wise like congas and bongos.”
Interesting percussion instruments on stage included tom toms, hand drums and small cymbals and bells. There were also instruments often found in a jazz performance such as trumpets, saxophones and a grand piano. This combination offers a unique, fun sound, Charles Hood said.
“I love the energy that’s in Latin music,” Hood (graduate-criminal justice) said. “I’m really excited.”
The big band played in front of a background embellished with warm and vibrant colors, paralleling the bright and dynamic tones exploding from the brass section.
Individual solos from the brass section and piano player often stole the show. The musicians shredded through scales on each octave, all remaining strong to the steady and beat-driven Latin percussionists.
Although all of the All Stars are fluent in jazz, they do not stray too far from their Latin roots, according to Julia Sykes.
“I’m half-Cuban and my mom said I should really see this,” Sykes (freshman-Latin-American studies) said. “I’m excited for the upbeat rhythms. My Latin-American History teacher suggested that I go to the show also.”
The show climaxed with members of the Afro-Cuban All Stars grooving off stage and into the crowd. Attendees quickly adapted, getting up and joining in with the Latin legends. The show was a rare treat for those that appreciate world music, Toma said.
“They’re a great group and it’s a really good opportunity to see them here in State College, and for a good price too,” he said.