Students Head North to Salem

Mitzi Dorbu
April 29, 2008
La Timbistica
Juan Chavez
Manami Morita
Zach Hillyard Band
Photo by Nick Balkin
Photo provided by the artist
Photo by Phil Farnsworth
Photo provided by the artist

No need to stay land-locked when there's great music on the North Shore. Berklee and the Salem Jazz and Soul Festival are cosponsoring a pre-festival line-up of some of Berklee's best starting May 10. An appetizing menu of artists for the Salem Jazz and Soul Festival "Berklee Summer Series" at Derby Square will have music lovers salivating for what's to come. The crowd can sample these artists during the four-part series one Saturday a month through August 9, between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. in front of Old Town Hall, Front Street, Salem, Massachusetts.

Featured will be Juan Chavez, the Zach Hillyard Band, La Timbistica, and Manami Morita. The concerts are free and open to the public. This venue is within walking distance of the Salem stop on the Newburyport/ Rockport line. For more information visit or call 978 744-8258.

After a tantalizing taste of these Berklee groups, crowds are sure to be eager for the entree. The Salem Jazz and Soul Festival Concert Series aims to add some soul and funk while renewing the rich musical history that began when Duke Ellington and other big band musicians played the Salem Willows. Proceeds from the festival will support music education in Salem and fund the festival.

The Salem Jazz and Soul Festival "Berklee Summer Series" Schedule:

May 10, Juan Chavez - This salsa violinist 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 and was featured live on the XM Satellite Radio Salsa station, 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 (Mahvishnu Project, String Trio of New York). For this performance he will be backed by an eight-piece group, complete with horns, strings, and percussion.

June 14, Zach Hillyard Band (funk, r&b, soul, pop) - An amalgam of talent, the Zach Hillyard Band has been touring the New England music scene, with stints in New York and Southern California, playing for audiences of all ages and musical interests. Performing songs with elements of pop, funk, and soul, this group offers a little something for everyone. Recently the band was named the Best College Band in New England after winning's College Clash Competition.

July 12, La Timbistica (Latin, jazz) - This all-star group is comprised of top scholarship students from Puerto Rico, Israel, and the continental U.S. Thanks to their tracks "Puertorro" and "Electrik," they've been named this year's Best College Jazz Band in Down Beat magazine's prestigious Student Music Awards. With graduation still ahead, this group has performance and recording experience beyond their years. Leader and percussionist Paulo Stagnaro performs on Paquito D'Rivera's Funk Tango CD, winner of the 2007 Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Recording. Other members have performed with Dave Valentin, Cachao, Danilo Perez, and Victor Manuelle, among others, and recorded for XM Radio. They will headline later this year in the Tito Puente Latin Music Series in Boston, and perform at Washington, D.C.'s Duke Ellington Jazz Festival.

August 9, Manami Morita (jazz, jazz fusion) - A native of Saitama, Japan, Morita started playing classical piano at 4. At the time, she hated classical piano lessons. Once she discovered jazz, she was hooked. Later, when Morita received a scholarship to study at Berklee, she put aside thoughts of doing anything other than following her dream of playing jazz. This expressive and energetic pianist was recently awarded the Mary Jane Earnhart Endowed Scholarship.