Unusual trio brings euphoric Latin American rhythms to Gaede Stage

Thursday, Nov. 15 | 7:30 p.m. | Gaede Stage

When you go to a jazz performance, you expect saxophones, trumpets, trombones, piano, guitars and bass. You might see a clarinet, and maybe even a flute, depending on the type of jazz. But you never expect a harp.

On Thursday, Nov. 15, at 7:30 p.m., jazz harpist Edmar Casteneda, along with saxophonist Schlomi Cohen and drummer Ludwig Afonso, take the Gaede Stage at MSUM. The performance is the second of four in this season’s Cheryl Nelson Lossett Performing Arts Series.

Since his move from Bogota, Columbia to the United States in 1994, Casteneda has revolutionized the reputation of the harp.  Born in 1978 in Bogotá, Castaneda took up the harp as a teenager to play the folkloric music of his homeland. He discovered jazz shortly after moving to New York City to join his father in 1994 and was immediately drawn to the freedom and sophistication of the music. With no real precedent for harp in the jazz world, Castaneda studied trumpet by day while playing the harp at a restaurant by night. Jazz legend Paquito D’Rivera recognized Castaneda’s passion and took the young harpist under his wing. “Edmar has the versatility and the enchanting charisma of a musician who has taken his harp out of the shadow to become one of the most original musicians from the Big Apple.”

Full of complex rhythms, lush colors and dynamic spirit, Casteneda’s music is often reminiscent of flamenco guitar music. German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote of a Casteneda performance: “The Colombian plays the harp like hardly anyone else on earth. His hands, seemingly powered by two different people, produce a totally unique, symphonic fullness of sound, a rapid-fire of chords, balance of melodic figures and drive, served with euphoric Latin American rhythms, and the improvisatory freedom of a trained jazz musician…captivating virtuosity, but in no way only virtuosity for its own sake.”

Casteneda’s performances include Paquito D’Rivera’s Carnegie Hall tribute, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Tanglewood Jazz Festival, and the 10th annual World Harp Congress. He has also performed with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, John Scofield, Marcus Miller, John Patitucci, and Chico O’Farrill ‘s Afro-Cuban Jazz Big Band.

The Gaede Stage is located in the Roland Dille Center for the Arts on the MSUM campus. To purchase tickets, go to www.mnstate.edu/perform or call the MSUM Box Office at (218) 477-2271 Monday through Friday from noon to 4 p.m. Tickets are $28 for adults, $24 for seniors and $12 for students with student ID. Tickets are also available at the door.