High School Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra performs at Spring Music Spectacular in Tampa


Just as performance venues begin to reopen after a year of forced COVID shutdowns, the Straz and Patel Conservatory are celebrating a Spring Music Spectacular on April 21 that will feature some of the Tampa Bay area’s top high school students.

While all types of music will be played that night, keep your ears peeled for the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra.

“Afro Latin jazz uses the quirky bassline that is indicative of Latin music. It adds such a funky feel, but it feels so natural. There is a lot going on with counterpoints and rhythms. It sounds really good and reinforces the emotions of the listener, ”says conductor James Crumbly with the High School Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra of the Straz Jazz Project.

This orchestra is made up of high school students from across the Tampa Bay area, but many participate in special arts education programs offered in Blake in Tampa and Gibbs in St. Pete. There is no formal audition to be a part of this orchestra except that they are at a higher level and have been recommended by their high school music teachers as the music is much more difficult.

“We meet once a week on Saturdays for two hours. We not only rehearse the music we play, but also go over some fundamental jazz, blues and improvisation exercises. This not only helps them read music, but also use some of the skills that we develop, ”says Crumbly. “One of the instructors René Avich, who is a virtuoso guitarist, acclimates children to the style of Afro Latin, leads them to relax and how to not only read music, but also feel and experience it on a level. emotional.

The Friday performance will take place at Morsani Hall in the Straz with social distancing protocols in place. Only around 600 seats will be occupied in the 2,600-seat room.

“The evening includes performances of jazz, gospel, classical and musical theater, and ends with a tour de force of John Rutter’s ‘Requiem’ for choir and orchestra,” according to a press release.

If you can’t get enough of the music at this performance, a few of the members will also be performing at the Arts Legacy REMIX Performance Jazz, Jazz, Jazz on May 21st.

“A lot of these kids come from an environment where they are the best dog. Putting them in a situation where they might not be the best or be part of a group that has a lot of really good players, that’s a form of encouragement for them. They also get the flavor of conducting and rehearsing from someone else versus their own teachers in their school. We’re talking about all the different styles of jazz that make the jazz world such an interesting thing to be a part of, ”Crumbly said. “They play really cool stuff, which flows across all the keys. It’s cool to see how standard these students are.

To find out more and get your tickets, visit Patel Center Events Calendar or the Straz Center Events Calendar.

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Henry R. Wright