By Danielle Mohlman
Cal Poly Salsa Ensemble Director Gustavo Gil tried to get the
“It is permitted to dance,” Gil told the audience. “You are
allowed to move around.”
Gil directed the 13-member ensemble in a concert Thursday
covering a variety of styles, including cha-cha, mambo and son
montuno, Afro-Latin jazz.
Audience members gathered outside the Music Recital Hall in the
space between the university theatre and music buildings.
Students either stood in the shade or sat on the grass and
concrete planters as they ate their lunches and listened to the
Occasionally, they danced.
The percussion section demonstrated Latin jazz dancing during
one of the ensemble’s songs, “Perla Morena.”
“The Salsa Ensemble is a class in the performance of Latin dance
music, specifically music influenced by Afro-Cuban dance rhythms
and Latin jazz,” Gil said. “The instrumentation varies depending on
the makeup of the class in any particular quarter.”
At Thursday’s concert, some of the performers were guest
musicians. Gil led the ensemble on keyboard as well as backing
Other musicians played trumpet, percussion, saxophone, flute,
bass guitar and trombone. All of the ensemble members sang backing
vocals, and two sang lead vocals.
“The only thing I tell everyone at every performance is that the
class is open to anyone interested in this music,” Gil said.
“Experienced players are welcome, but anyone interested in learning
the rhythms and performing them is also welcome.”
The Salsa Ensemble opened the concert with “Picadillo,” which
featured solos by trumpet player Juan Bermudez, trombone player
Luis Vasquez, tenor saxophone player Juan Antonio Maldonado and
soprano saxophone player Albert Picon.
In the song “Son de La Loma,” the ensemble featured guest
vocalist Delfina Silva.
This upbeat song also featured solos from various musicians and
the audience members encouraged the musicians with a round of
Students valued the live music and Latin rhythms.
“I’m here to support a friend in the band, but I also enjoy
listening to the music,” said Julianne Tres, a third-year
Tres danced with one of her classmates, Matthew Donoghue, a
second-year hospitality management student and member of the Cal
Poly Ballroom Dance Company.
“I came here because I wanted to dance,” Donoghue said. “I
appreciate that we have live music for free for the campus to
Audience members continued to dance throughout the salsa
concert, dancing the cha-cha to “Escucha el Ritmo,” which featured
vocalist Juan Antonio Reyes.
During the final song, a son montuno piece called “Vamanos Pa’l
Monte,” Gil introduced the ensemble, allowing each member to
perform a solo.
The ensemble members enjoy performing for the university every
Paul Carbajal, a fourth-year psychology student and
percussionist in the salsa ensemble said that he is part of the
ensemble because he likes the music.
“It stirs something in your soul, “Carbajal said. “It makes you
feel good. All in all, it’s the music.”
The class meets Wednesday evenings and performs once a quarter
during University Hour. It also performs at various events around
Cal Poly, such as art openings, cultural events like Dia de los
Muertos and Cinco de Mayo, club banquets and commencement
Allen Chen/The Poly Post
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