Berklee Salsa with Strings Octet Get Double Jazz Billing

By 
Billy Herron
July 22, 2008
Arco Kemao - from left, Daehee Kim (Aaron Kim) (Cello), Juan P Chavez (Violin
Juan Chavez
Photo provided by the artist
Photo provided by the artist

Berklee College of Music salsa octet Juan Chavez y Arco Kemao will perform twice on Saturday, August 9 as part of the Comcast San Jose Jazz Festival in San Jose, California. Chavez—whose violin, singing, and dancing with his salsa big band Díle were a highlight of the 2007 Kennedy Center Conservatory Project series in Washington, D.C.—brings to San Jose Araco Kemao, a fresh band of top Berklee students whose salsa delivery system features the triad of violin, viola, and cello. Rounding out the group are piano, saxophone, trombone, congas, and timbales.

A native of Dallas, Chavez began Arco Kemao—literally "burnt bow"—to honor salsa traditions and to help create some new ones. The group includes students from Korea, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the continental U.S., many of whom grew up with Latin music, and others who simply could not keep away once they'd heard it.

Juan Chavez y Arco Kemao perform at 11:00 a.m. on the festival's Latin Jazz Stage, at Post and Market streets, and again that night at the Fairmont Hotel, from 9:00 p.m. to 12 a.m. On Sunday at 10:00 a.m., the group will give a youth master class on salsa rhythms and the use of strings at Camera 3, located at the corner of 2nd and Fernando streets.

 

Juan P. Chavez - Violin/Lead Vocals
Salsa violinist and vocalist Chavez hails from Dallas, Texas, where he attended the Dallas Performing Arts High School before coming to Berklee. He is widely recognized for his knowledge of Afro-Cuban music, and has taught many classes and workshops, including a 2004 Afro-Cuban Strings Seminar in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Chavez has traveled and performed throughout the country at such venues as the Kennedy Center, Disney's Epcot Center, and the San Jose Jazz Festival (once previously) and was featured live on the XM Satellite Radio's salsa channel, Caliente. He is currently working on his first album, Salsa for Strings, and is writing a book on contemporary Afro-Cuban violin. Chavez studies with violinist and Berklee professor Rob Thomas (Mahavishnu Project, String Trio of New York) and vocalist Stephen Kowalczyk Santoro (Atlantic Records.)

 

Nathan Perez - Trombone
Born and raised in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Nathan Perez began playing the trombone at the age of 8. By age 13 he began to play third trombone in a salsa band lead by his father Jerry Perez (also a trombonist). Eventually, Nathan became a regular on the CT salsa scene and has performed with various bands throughout the state. In addition to Latin music he enjoys and is well versed in jazz and classical music, as he was a member of the Greater Bridgeport Youth Symphony Orchestra for four years, the All-City Jazz Band and the All-State Jazz Band. He has had the privilege of performing with and learning from many prominent musicians, including: Phil Wilson, Jeff Galindo, Greg Hopkins, Arturo O'Farrill, Andy Gonzalez and Tiger Okoshi. He recently performed on the Montreal International Jazz Festival with McCoy Tyner, as part of the Berklee Concert Jazz Orchestra. Currently a student at Berklee, Nathan performs with several groups in the Boston area and is pursing a dual degree in Music Education and Performance.

Born and raised in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Nathan Perez began playing the trombone at the age of 8. By age 13 he began to play third trombone in a salsa band lead by his father Jerry Perez (also a trombonist). Eventually, Nathan became a regular on the CT salsa scene and has performed with various bands throughout the state. In addition to Latin music he enjoys and is well versed in jazz and classical music, as he was a member of the Greater Bridgeport Youth Symphony Orchestra for four years, the All-City Jazz Band and the All-State Jazz Band. He has had the privilege of performing with and learning from many prominent musicians, including: Phil Wilson, Jeff Galindo, Greg Hopkins, Arturo O'Farrill, Andy Gonzalez and Tiger Okoshi. He recently performed on the Montreal International Jazz Festival with McCoy Tyner, as part of the Berklee Concert Jazz Orchestra. Currently a student at Berklee, Nathan performs with several groups in the Boston area and is pursing a dual degree in Music Education and Performance.

Mario Castro - Tenor Sax
Mario Castro from Humacao, Puerto Rico started his musical studies at the age of 12, at the Escuela Libre de Musica, in San Juan. In 2004, he was selected to perform at the Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Festival with the Berklee in Puerto Rico Student Big Band. His performance earned him a full scholarship to attend the 2005 Berklee Five Week Program. Mario is a trained performer in both jazz and Afro-Caribbean music in addition to other contemporary styles. He has performed with a variety of artists and groups including The Wild Bunch, Victor Manuel, La Sonora Ponseña, Giovanni Hidalgo, Humberto Ramirez, Piro Rodriguez, Ricardo Pons y Causa Común, Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez, Charlie Sepulveda, S.O.J.A., Gentleman and the Far East Band, Miguel Zenon, David Sanchez, Cachete Maldonado y los Majaderos and Paoli Mejias. Mario is a scholarship recipient at Berklee, where he is currently in his second semester.

Ruby Biloskirka-Conley - Piano
Born in Massachusetts, Ruby Biloskirka-Conley began studying piano at the age of 5. In high school she received the "First Lady of Jazz" award for her involvement in the school's big band jazz ensemble (under the direction of drummer Casey Scheuerell.) In 2005 she received a scholarship to attend Berklee. While at Berklee she has had the opportunity to explore various styles of music and has studied with Joanne Brackeen, Ray Santisi, Laszlo Gardony, Alain Mallet, Tiger Okoshi, and Jetro Da Silva, and has shared stages with Terri Lyne Carrington, Greg Osby, Christopher Guest, and the legendary rock group Fanny.

Yuriana Sobrino Garcia - Drums/Percussion
From in Veracruz, Mexico, at the age of six Yuriana became part of a children's music group, as the percussionist and singer. She has been self-taught as a percussionist, covering a wide range of Latin American instruments such as drums, congas, bongos, timbales, and Peruvian cajon, among many others. In the jazz field, Yuriana has also developed a unique style as a drummer, which has allowed her to share her talent with world-renowned artists including Bobby McFerrin, Danilo Perez and Jerry Bergonzi. Yuriana has performed at many prestigious venues in Mexico including the Palacio de Bellas Artes with many of the most important music figures in the Mexican music industry. She has also toured the US and Canada performing Latin American folklore with a project that includes her two brothers, which earned great reputation and recognition in various music festivals. Through the Danilo Perez Foundation, Yuriana was awarded a full tuition scholarship to the Berklee, where she is currently a Performance major.

Daehee Kim (Aaron Kim) - Cello
Born in Aachen, Germany and raised in Seoul, Korea. Aaron was classically trained beginning at age ten, and after graduating Hanyang University and Seoul Jazz Academy, he set out to build upon a strong classical foundation and distinguish himself in jazz and contemporary styles. Recently, as a jazz cellist, Aaron has performed at the 2007 Latin Grammy Awards, the Berklee 60th Anniversary Concert, The American Song Book, and the Salem Jazz and Soul Festival. Aaron is attending Berklee as a String Performance major.

Gabriel Lugo - Drums/Percussion
Born in Puerto Rico, Gabriel Lugo started playing percussion at the age of 9. He attended the music high school, Escuela Libre de Música, in San Juan, was playing professionally by the age of 12 and composing by the age of 14. Gabriel has performed with numerous salsa bands in Puerto Rico and produced songs for Hip Hop/Reggaeton artists including Tego Calderon, Julio Voltio and Randy. Gabriel received a scholarship to attend the Berklee 5 Week summer program in 2007, followed by two more scholarships to attend Berklee as a full time student. He is currently in his second semester, majoring in Music Production & Engineering.

David Peacock - Viola
David is an active performer in several orchestras, musical theatre ensembles and recording sessions. He is an actively working on transcriptions and arrangements for string quartet, salsa/merengue, musical theater, and full orchestra. A few notable performances include Puccini's "Turandot" with Harvard, performing for the Red Cross Awards dinner, Berklee's "Great American Songbook" concert series, the Salem Jazz and Soul Festival, and Stephen Sondheim's "Passion."