September 2008, Volume 12, Number 7

Cultural Spotlight

Kendall Campus Launches Latin Jazz Institute

A new, avant-garde institute will open at MDC’s Kendall Campus this fall. Through the School of Community Education, the Latin Jazz Institute will provide an academic hub for the study and enjoyment of Latin jazz.

“Miami is home to countless jazz musicians and the city has direct connections to the history and development of Latin jazz,” said Ed Calle, a two-time Latin Grammy-nominated jazz musician and professor.

In the 1940s, Dizzy Gillespie, Israel “Cachao” López, Tito Puente, Stan Kenton, and Machito and his Afro-Cubans, among others, blended jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms into what became known as Latin jazz.

An inclusive platform – similar to World Music – that blends distinct rhythms into one eclectic sound, Latin jazz is a major form of musical expression and new music is being written every day. Despite the popularity of the genre, the Institute is the first educational center dedicated to Latin jazz. MDC is the ideal home.

“The music, recording and entertainment industries are experiencing explosive growth in our community,” said Isabel Medina, chair of the School of Community Education at Kendall Campus. “Opening the Latin Jazz Institute now is perfect timing.”

The mission of the Institute is to educate, explore, preserve and celebrate the artistry of Latin jazz music in partnership with the global music community.

“The College is the epicenter of culture and the arts in Miami. It is the heartbeat; the institute makes sense here,” Calle said.

The Institute will feature master workshops, taught by Latin Grammy winners and nominees, on topics ranging from improvisation to arrangement.

There will also be courses on the fundamentals including understanding the role of la clave. Literally meaning “key” in Spanish, la clave is an essential beat pattern prevalent in Latin jazz.

Through partnerships with WDNA, Sam Ash, Resurrection Drums and The Guitar Center, the Institute aims to align musicians, college music students, public school students and music teachers, and industry organizations with extensive outreach programs.

“The response from the community has been overwhelming. It’s a long time coming,” said Medina.

The Institute will also host events like The Second Annual Latin Jazz Festival on November 21, 2008. The event will feature Calle, Jon Secada, Nestor Torres, Roberto Perera and Negroni’s Trio. In 2007, the inaugural Festival rocked Kendall Campus as standing-room-only audiences celebrated the rhythms of Latin jazz.

— Katherine Joss

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