My experience with jazz, or any music where vocals take a backseat to instrumentals, is extremely limited. Before attending this event, my exposure to jazz had mainly consisted of the soundtrack to La La Land and the songs played by my school’s jazz band between long orchestral performances. While my newness to the genre did not lessen my appreciation for the Duende Libre Trio’s performance, none of my previous experiences were able to aptly prepare me for such a musical journey.
Presented by Earshot Jazz and Town Hall Seattle, Earshot listed Duende’s inspiration as including “Afro-Cuban Jazz to Brazilian Samba.” The result was a creative and authentic concert that was exciting to behold. This jazz band truly explored the vastness of the many cultures they draw from through their own melodies, and produced a work that displayed their creative talent. Unfortunately, the health concerns that we are all too familiar with resulted in this concert being performed in a livestream format, affectionately referred to as a “digital stage.”
We are all gradually acclimating as well as we can to consuming art digitally. Though some disparities are more evident than others, we art enthusiasts adapt our expectations to the material as best we can, and in the end, we appreciate what we can get. I tuned into the livestream of the performance excited, but aware that laptops still lack the ability to fully capture in-person experiences. Yet, it appeared that such reservations were unnecessary, as the rhythmic currents flowed freely from my computer screen. The livestreamed nature of this concert didn’t seem to greatly affect the quality of the performance. The one noticeable aspect that the digital arena lacked was the audience interaction. However, my experience taking in the passion of a professional jazz group for the first time still fully surpassed expectations.
Even with the digital restrictions, this performance was able to convey all the feeling one would expect from a group described by Earshot as a “dynamic, genre-bending Seattle ensemble.” In their description, they used the phrase “musical medicine” to characterize the mood of their songs, and I wholeheartedly agree with that. The rhythm was upbeat and snappy, evoking a lively feeling that energized a part of me quarantine had drained. The relaxing moments of percussion were a counterpoint to peppy points of piano that would ride the drum’s beat until eventually overtaking it. There was definitely a certain amount of funk to be found in this performance, due mainly to the wide range of music this group has harnessed into their own, unique style.
This musical excursion was the perfect antidote for the isolation many of us feel during this time of prolonged social distancing. Their music breathed life into my room and conjured within me the knowledge that we are all still part of a global community.
Duende Libre's concert was livestreamed by Town Hall Seattle and Earshot Jazz on Saturday, June 27, 2020. For more information see here.