Oscar Stagnaro in Santo Domingo

Alexander Trampas
March 25, 2008

There are many rhythms still undiscovered and many combinations of existing ones that have not yet been explored, especially in the South American traditions. So noted world-famous bass player and Berklee professor Oscar Stagnaro at the first in a series of master classes in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

The series, part of the Berklee master classes/teaching clinics program, is a collaboration between Berklee and Latitud Cero Productions, with the support of the Dominican Ministry of Cultures and the United States Embassy's Centro Franklin.

Stagnaro, a bass player for Paquito D'Rivera, among others, talked about harmony in the jazz idiom and the rhythms uses, and about the state of the music business in the United States.

As an educator, Stagnaro, who teaches bass and ensembles at Berklee, also spoke of concerns for the current state of jazz as it relates to music education around the world. These days, jazz is a bit stagnant compared to the past masters, even though a lot of groups are exploring new ways to merge different styles and cultures in their music, he said, attributing this in large part to the limited number of schools that teach Latin rhythms. "Until now we've been only listening to Cuban and Brazilian music mixed with jazz," Stagnaro said. "There is still a lot to mix and study...especially since for a musician, in order to survive in our days, you have to be flexible and versatile and be able to play a lot different styles."

Stagnaro regards himself as a "lifetime student." He began his music studies at Conservatorio de Musica de Lima in Peru; after that, he continued studying music directly from the musicians he performed with-Paquito D'Rivera, Michel Camilo, and Juan Luis Guerra, to name a few.

His future goals include playing music and working with other Dominican musicians, and broadcasting and promoting Peruvian music, the music of his home country, all over the world, starting from the United States.