2010 Conference On World Affairs: Tuesday Night Jazz Concert

06/07/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Produced by HuffPost's Citizen Reporting Team

A packed Macky Auditorium was treated on Tuesday night to a truly world-class performance as part of the the Annual Conference on World Affairs' Tuesday night jazz tradition.

To say that the group of musicians collected onto that one stage was impressive would be like saying that the Harry Potter series did well - slight understatement. Their combined Grammys, Oscars, major soundtracks, and resumes would easily command $100.00 tickets, making the CWA's commitment to free events so revered. The diverse audience reflected the accessibility. Families, students, professors, along with conference participants including Jim Hightower, were on hand to see the impressive array of artists, many of whom were returning to CWA after performing previous years.

Dave Grusin, a 10 time Grammy award winner, set the tone with a hauntingly gorgeous piano piece. When Charlie Bisharat introduced Justo Almario, he said the Columbian saxophonist "had a sound not like anybody's." If the Colorado River could play sax, it would sound like Almario - lively, with surprises, and that sensation that just dances into your skin. His composition "7th Avenue" had everyone clapping along vigorously.

It was Rony Barrak's 8th year at the CWA, and he opened his composition gradually with a stirring blend of violin, horns, and flute. After an impeccably paced build up, he let loose with an epic percussion solo. He can clearly command the tabla to speak in many different languages, no translation needed. Barrak's rhythms transcend the boundaries of culture and go straight to the soul.

CU's own jazz professor Brad Goode rocked Macky with "Hypnotic Suggestion," a composition that had me dancing, hypnotically at least. Shodekeh, the Maryland beatboxer, received much applause for his amazing vocal range.

A real highlight was Tjupurru's slide didjeridoo. It was like Chewbacca beatboxing to Arabic techno. In Tjupurru's bio, he describes his sound as "didjetronica." I was sure a DJ was hiding somewhere on stage. I have never seen this type of didj, so I looked it up and found that it was invented by Charlie McMahon in 1981, and is called a didjeribone because it's a combination of a sliding trombone and a didj. ( Tjupurru's bio explains the trick behind how he accomplishes what I will call the Chewbacca effect: he picks up his sound through a seismic sensor called a "face bass" implanted inside his mouth. Don Grusin's keyboard effects meshed perfectly to complete the 'didjetronica' sound.

Nestor Torres had me wishing I'd never quit flute when I was in 8th grade. He introduced his composition "Tiger Tales" with the folk story that inspired it: a man who seeks to kill the tiger that ate his mother finally tracks it down, and shoots it with an arrow. Yet it was not the tiger, it was a boulder, pierced by his arrow. The composition delivered on its promise to be focused and determined like the arrow that pierces rock. It would be remiss not to mention mention that Oscar Castro-Neves's Brazilian inspired guitar was flawless, along with bassist Barbosa's steady seven string accompaniment.

Thank goodness for the feminine and powerful Lillian Boutte, who owned the microphone and seemed to transform the cavernous Macky into an intimate French Quarter night club. No one could resist getting out of their seat and shaking their booty to her New Orleans voice belting out "Barefooting It," a perfect close to this phenomenal show. Together, the musicians created a joyful and passionate celebration of free thinking music.

Justo Almario: saxophone
Bijoux Barbosa: seven string electric bass
Rony Barrak: darbouka, djembe (Middle Eastern tabla), percussion
Charlie Bisharat: violin
Mike Marlier: drum set
Nestor Torres: flute
Lillian Boutte: singer, jazz, gospel, rhythm and blues.
Oscar Castro-Neves: Guitarist
Brad Goode: Trumpeter
Dave Grusin: Pianist, composer, Grammy award winning
Don Grusin: Keyboardist
Shodekeh: Beatboxer
Tjupurru: Slide Didjeridoo

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