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La Puertecita - Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet. Afro-Peruvian Jazz Music. Jazz Afroperuano

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Published on Dec 31, 2012

Since the release of their 2008 debut, Nuevo Mundo, trumpeter-composer Gabriel Alegría and his Afro-Peruvian Sextet have been blazing a new musical path as they develop and popularize Afro-Peruvian jazz in the United States, Alegría's native Peru, and beyond. The group's stunning new CD, Ciudad de Los Reyes (City of Kings), released on February 12 2013 by Alegría's Saponegro Records, represents a culmination of their efforts to establish Afro-Peruvian jazz as a genre unto itself.

"We want the music world to start to really hear and feel Afro-Peruvian jazz music as what it is: a unique and separate brand of Latin jazz that warrants consideration and placement alongside Afro-Cuban and Brazilian jazz," says Alegría.

The Afro-Peruvian Sextet divides its time between performing abroad and Perú. Alegría, Laura Andrea Leguía, Freddy "Huevito" Lobatón (the Sextet's hand percussionist and dancer), guitarist Yuri Juárez, and drummer Hugo Alcázar were all born and raised in Perú. Bassist John Benitez was born in Puerto Rico and has long been one of the most in-demand jazz musicians in New York City. When Alcázar—who incorporates a cajón into his trap drum kit and, according to Alegría, "singlehandedly created the whole language for the drums in this style"—is unable to travel to the U.S. due to family obligations, North Carolina--born drummer Shirazette Tinnin takes his place in the band.

"La Puertecita" is the album's opening track and was composed by Laura Andrea Leguia.

"Jazz music is predicated on listening and interacting," Alegría says. "There's a swing pattern and different things that are cues for musicians, but there's no set pattern that you have to obey the whole time. That is the same concept by which traditional Afro-Peruvian music is performed. There's no clave. The cajón players have base patterns much like a jazz drummer has the ride cymbal pattern. The patterns are meant to be interpreted throughout the continuity of a tune. They can go here; they can go there," he concludes.

Following its 2008 recording debut with Nuevo Mundo, the Afro-Peruvian Sextet released two more albums on Saponegro Records: Pucusana (2010) and El Secreto del Jazz Afroperuano (2012).

Once per year, fans of the band are invited to accompany the Sextet on the road in Perú, thereby gaining a unique perspective and insight into jazz, culture, and food in the southern hemisphere. While the concept of fans following a band on the road is typically associated with rock and pop bands, two such Afro-Peruvian jazz tours are scheduled for 2013, the first of which is now in progress. Participants of the tour effectively become an intrinsic part of the band's "ecosystem," experiencing everything from show production to marketing while on the road with the band.

"We're definitely on a crusade to spread Afro-Peruvian jazz music to the world," says the trumpeter. "We want it to become part of the language of jazz, and the more we play it and the more feedback we get, the more confident we become that this will be the case." •

gabrielalegria.com

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