You wouldn't necessarily expect Bloomington, Indiana to be a hotbed of Afro-Cuban, Caribbean and South American jazz.
Import some of best Latin Jazz musicians and educators from the San Francisco Bay Area to teach at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, and see what happens. It sounds like this:
Ritmos Unidos (Rhythms United) is unique in that it combines faculty, alumni and current students in the multi-faceted ensemble. It's a great way to expand on what students are taught in the classroom and the band room. It's an extension of the jazz mentoring tradition; you learn priceless lessons from the professionals while you're performing with them.
Associate professor of percussion Michael Spiro has developed the curriculum for Cuban and Brazilian music for both the percussion and jazz departments at the IU Jacobs School of Music. His background is rich, with thousands of recordings, three books on Afro-Cuban percussion, instructional videos and a deep commitment to music education.
Trombonist Wayne Wallace is another Bay Area native who is a professor in the jazz studies department at IU Jacobs. His connection to Latin jazz is substantial, having worked with Tito Puente, Pete Escovedo, Santana, Pucho and His Latin Soul Brothers and his own quintet. He's also the founder of Patois Records, which produced the 2017 Grammy nominated "Canto América."
We'll hear from Ritmos Unidos this week on Saturday Jazz Caliente, along with some choice Latin jazz Christmas selections.
Jazz Caliente airs Saturdays at 5:00 p.m. The program is hosted by Robin Lloyd and produced by KNKX Public Radio.