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JAG Inside Track at the Lincoln Theatre: Ritmos Unidos

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by Brooke Hollis on March 16, 2015

On Friday, March 27th, at 8pm, join Ritmos Unidos for the final concert in the 2014-15 JAG Inside Track Series at the Lincoln Theatre. Led by percussionist Michael Spiro and named in the sake of bringing together rhythms from various walks of life, Ritmos Unidos is an experiment in jazz-funk fusion. And rhythms aren’t the only thing these guys know how to weave together: they also utilize four different languages (Spanish, English, Yoruba, and Portuguese) in their music, which blends Latin, American, Brazilian, and Caribbean sounds. Spiro is a seven-time Grammy nominee and has been making waves at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music since his arrival in 2011, forming a Latin Jazz Ensemble and a Hand Drumming Ensemble in addition to the formation of Ritmos Unidos. The ensemble’s first album Funklorico was released in 2012 and now they have dropped a self-titled album with more of their infectious beats.  You can join Michael Spiro and Ritmos Unidos on Saturday, March 28th at noon for a Jazz Academy Workshop to learn more about Latin jazz. Read on for more from JAG:

JAZZ ARTS GROUP PRESENTS RITMOS UNIDOS
FRI. MARCH 27 – LINCOLN THEATRE BALLROOM
 
Columbus, OH – The Jazz Arts Group’s Inside Track series concludes its 2014-15 season on Friday, March 27, 2015 at the historic Lincoln Theatre ballroom with the ear-bending Latin rhythms of Ritmos Unidos.
Led by seven-time Grammy nominee and Indiana University Jacobs School of Music professor Michael Spiro, Ritmos Unidos is a high-energy ensemble comprised of Jacobs faculty and alumni that mixes Latin jazz, American funk, Brazilian pop, and other syncretic styles. With a name that loosely translates as “rhythms together,” members of the ensemble include Spiro, Mike Mixtacki, Joe Galvin, Jamaal Baptiste, Pat Harbison, Nate Johnson, Joel Tucker, and Jeremy Allen in a show guaranteed to get your feet moving!
Think of the Caribbean as a vast and far-flung laboratory, with thousands of researchers constantly investigating and refining a dazzling array of African diaspora rhythms. Ritmos Unidos is a rare ensemble that draws inspiration from various corners of the region, from sacred Santería rituals of Cuba to the celebratory carnival grooves of Trinidad and Tobago. Under the direction of renowned percussionist Michael Spiro the band makes a major leap with its second, self-named album, an ambitious project centering on two extended pieces that encompass several profound rhythmic currents.
“Our intent isn’t to play one style,” states Spiro. “Ritmos Unidos means we’re bringing many different rhythms together. It’s a little bit different from what other Latin bands are doing.”
After earning a Bachelor’s Degree with honors in Latin American Studies from the University of California, Spiro headed north to Seattle for graduate work in ethnomusicology. But after two years an offer by Gordon to teach him batá drums brought Spiro back to the Bay Area. By 1982 he was in the thick of the Bay Area’s thriving Latin music scene, playing in the seminal band Batachanga with percussionist John Santos and a teenage piano phenomenon named Rebeca Mauleón. The gig with Batachanga led to his apprenticeship with conga legend Francisco Aguabella, and in 1984 he made the first of more than two-dozen trips to Cuba.
Over the past three decades, Spiro has distinguished himself as a player, producer, educator, and bandleader. He’s played a central role on a series of seminal recordings, including BataKetu, Mark Levine and the Latin Tinge, Orquesta La Moderna Tradicion, Bata-Mbira, and Grupo Ilu-Aña. As a session musician, he’s played on soundtracks for major feature films and documentaries, contributed arrangements to a Tony Award-winning Broadway production (Blast!), and collaborated with a mind-boggling array of artists, including Clark Terry, McCoy Tyner, David Byrne, Cachao, Changuito, Frank Emilio Flynn, Ella Fitzgerald, David Garibaldi, Gilberto Gil, Giovanni Hidalgo, Toninho Horta, Bobby Hutcherson, Chico O’Farrill, Eddie Palmieri, and Charlie Watts.
Advance tickets are available for $20 (general admission) through the CAPA Ticket Office (614-469-0939) and through all Ticketmaster outlets. Salsa dance lessons begin at 7:30 pm with the Thiossane West African Dance Institute opening the show at 8:00 pm.

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