Both the savvy and the uninitiated get up and moving to this irresistible dance music! Echoing the classic Cuban conjunto format, Zarabanda plays deep-grooving salsa, straight from Old Havana, and spices it up with modern arranging sensibility. Equally at home in dance halls, festivals and concert halls, Orchestra Zarabanda is known for it's trademark sound of sultry melodies contrasted with syncopated and exacting rhythms. The band is comprised of latin rhythm section, trombones, flute and vocals. Influences include Felix Chappotín, Celia Cruz, Eddie Palmieri and Los Van Van.

Read more about our accomplished band members:
Elspeth Savani (co-bandleader, lead vocals, clarinet)
Tom Bergersen (congas)
Julio Jauregui (piano)
Greg Koehler (trombone)
Miguel A Munoz (vocals)
Jeff Norwood (bass)
Richard Warner (flute)
Alfredo Polier (vocals)
Steve Smith (co-bandleader, bongo, guiro)
Chris Stover (trombone)





Elspeth Savani (co-bandleader, vocals): Elspeth’s interest in African roots music began in childhood with an obsession for Scott Joplin’s rags, but she later became immersed in classical voice studies, earning a BA in Music from Wesleyan University.  She was still primarily performing classical music when she had her first significant encounter with Cuban music. It was an epiphany. The rhythmic counterpoint and call-and-response singing was exciting and powerful, and in the ensuing weeks Elspeth put her classical voice training aside in order to focus on congas, Cuban dance, folkloric Cuban song, and Spanish language. “Concentrating most of my early efforts on drumming was a good decision,” Elspeth explains. “Nothing could have better informed my singing in this style.”  As Rebecca Mauleon said regarding Cuban musicians, “We are all drummers.”

Elspeth has been singing for and directing Orchestra Zarabanda for the better part of a decade.  Zarabanda has been her primary training ground, providing hundreds of performances and two major recording projects, although she has sung for a variety of other ensembles along the way. Not surprisingly, Elspeth’s 2007 release features many members of Orchestra Zarabanda, as well as special guests Jovino Santos Neto, Marco de Carvalho and Anthony Blea, with whom Elspeth is honored to have had the opportunity to record.

Most recently, Elspeth has been exploring the fusion of world music and jazz with her quintet, which allows her to draw on her rhythmic and improvisatory background while traversing a wide breadth of Latin American styles and vocal colors. She has also developed and expanded educational outreach programs in partnership with percussionist Jeff Busch, guitarist David Trejo, and actress Mayra Laura Castaños. These programs have been favorites in the local libraries and schools, and in a variety of settings around the Northwest region.

In 2007, Elspeth received an Earshot Jazz nomination for “Best Emerging Artist”, and was awarded City Artist and smART Venture grants from the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs.  Elspeth was the recipient of both the City Artists and King County 4 Culture grants in 2009.

 

Tom Bergersen (congas) has performed with several Northwest bands including Los Boys, El Conjunto Fabuloso and Bochinche. Tom's dance company credits include Bill Evans Modern Dance Company and the Pacific Northwest Ballet. His interests in the folkloric roots of Latin Music led him to Stanford University to study with the Danza Nacional de Cuba under the direction of Regino Jimenez Saez.

Chris Stover is quickly becoming known as one of the most innovative trombonists and composers on the creative music scene today.  He specializes in Cuban and Brazilian music and creative improvisation, but is highly versatile and is in great demand as a performer and studio recording artist in many musical styles.  He has toured internationally and nationally with artists such as Pablo Moses, Apple Gabriel, Quasinada, Jumbalassy, and the Harry James Orchestra and directs his own solo and group projects.  Locally, he performs with Sonando, Orchestra Zarabanda, Frieze of Life, the James Knapp Orchestra, Quake, Affinity, and many others.  Chris leads his own eponymous quartet as well as the groups More Zero and Duas Opiñioes, all of which perform his original music exclusively.

In addition to his work as a performer, composer, and bandleader, Chris is actively involved in many research and educational endeavors, including extensive research on avant-jazz pianist Cecil Taylor, composers Luciano Berio and Louis Andriessen, new improvisational paradigms and philosophies, and the traditional and popular music of Cuba, Brazil, and Zimbabwe.  He has presented at numerous regional music theory conferences including the national SMT conference in November 2007.  Chris received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Washington and is a PhD Candidate in Music Theory, and he is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music.  He is currently on faculty at the University of Washington,Green River Community College, and the University of Puget Sound.

Chris released his first complete CD of original music in 2006 and is scheduled to release two more new recordings this year. 

 

Stover seems to be out of the Roswell Rudd to Ray Anderson lineage when it comes to his phrasing and ideas but possesses the tonal clarity and fleet agility of J. J. Johnson and his followers. He’s a thoughtful and original improviser. Another parallel is Jimmy Knepper who is similarly cliché free.” – Bill Barton, seattlejazzscene.com

“. . .a decidedly human trip through avant-jazz.  It’s smart, it knows it, and it still sounds fine.” – Bellingham Herald

The exceptional compositional abilities of the group’s members translate into highly varied musical territory and in turn some truly inspired improvisations … an important new element of Seattle new music.” – Earshot Jazz

“…the most exciting music in the region.” – Seattle Post-Intelligencer


Julio Jauregui (piano) was born in Baton Rouge, LA and grew up in Mexico City. His mother, Mireya Lopez, also a pianist, instilled in him a passion for music. Julio’s musical education began at age 6 at Artene, a school which focuses on rhythmic structures in a group format. He studied at the National School of Music with a focus on percussion, studying with Julio Villegas and performing with the National Symphony Orchestra.

In 1990, Julio moved to Eugene, OR, attending Lane Community College and later the University of Oregon, where he finished his music degree. There he studied jazz piano with Gary Versace and jazz improvisation with Steve Owen. In Eugene, Julio directed the salsa band Caliente, and collaborated on original compositions for Caliente’s recording “Voces Morenas”. He also played with “Saundunga” and “Combination to Go”, the latter a collaboration with Santana’s drummer, Mingo Lewis.  Julio moved to Seattle in 1997, later becoming musical director of both Latin Expression and Matices, and co-founding Cambalache.

Julio has recorded with Children of the Revolution, Guil Guimares, Jeff Busch, Nueva Era and others. He performed with Giovanni Hidalgo, Joe Santiago, Pablito “El Indio” Rosario and others in Joe Santiago’s Salsa All Stars concert in 2003. He has also performed with Adalberto Santiago, David Pabón, Hector Tricoche and Lalo Rodriguez.

In 2001 he co-founded Tumbao, a latin sextet, with singer and long-time friend Carlos Cascante. Tumbao affords them the freedom to experiment with many avenues and types of performances; Tumbao’s recording, “Recuerdos” features that versatility.

Julio
Greg Koehler ( Trombone) is a veteran of many diverse styles of pop music. A Seattle native, Greg studied under legendary trombonist Stuart Dempster at the University of Washington ('86 to '88) and played lead for many years with the jazz big bands of Roy Cummings ('84 to '89) before branching into reggae and world music styles. During the 90s, Koehler helped found the popular Seattle reggae band The Groove and also performed over the years with Jumbalassy, Andy-O, and Alex Duncan's Rudeboy band before turning to salsa bands Nueva Era and Quimbara!. Koehler has also performed with classic R&B bands Type A!, Jonny 5, Players Club, and Hit Explosion. He has backed numerous national artists, including Kenny G, Jeff Kashiwa, and Bob Mintzer. Greg maintains his love of big-band by playing regularly with the Emerald City Jazz Orchestra. He has performed with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and has toured extensively with the Harry James Orchestra under the direction of trumpeter Fred Radke.
Miguel A Munoz (vocals) Was born in Veracruz, México, surrounded by tropical music. He studied South American Folkloric Music and Music Pedagogy for Children at the Instituto de Bellas Artes of Veracruz while studying Industrial Engineering at the Cristóbal Colón University. He founded and directed Yambeque, his first salsa orchestra at the age of 18, sharing the stage with big figures of the salsa movement. Soon, he incursioned into the vast rhythms of the caribbean when he joined Acero Caliente from Panamá, Raver's Reggae Band from Jamaica, the Orquesta Los Trillizos from Cuba, The Charanga del Barrio and José Luis Montalvo y su Orquesta from México, Cassiano from Jamaica and other renowned bands. He moved to Seattle in 2001 performing with Rumbeggae. He is currently Director of Utopia Media and Entertainment and sings with Utopia and Orchestra Zarabanda.
Jeff Norwood (bass) has been playing the bass since the age of 12 and has played every style from funk to punk, Bach to bebop, opera to musical theater. After 15 years working as a freelance bassist in California he relocated to Seattle where he has been able to put his longtime interest in Afro-Cuban music to work. He is a regular member of Orchestra Zarabanda, Johnny Conga and Tumba Caliente, and Conjunto Meneo, and continues to work freelance in latin, jazz and classical settings. He has studied with Ray Brown and Buell Neidlinger and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in doublebass performance at the University of Washington.
Richard Warner (flute) hails originally from California, but has made Seattle his home since 1980.  He studied privately with Warne Marsh, at the Dick Grove Music Workshops in Los Angeles, and later at the Berklee College of Music. Early performing experiences included gigs with legendary bassist Ray Drummond and pianist Billy Childs.  In Seattle he has performed with Seattle's Beija Flor (including gigs with Brazilian pianist Jovino Santos Neto), steel drummer Gary Gibson’s groups, Pan Duo and Yahboy, and guitarist Phil Sheeran. His performing career has taken him to stages at Wolf Trap, the Universal Amphitheater, and the Hollywood Bowl.  He has released three albums on the Narada record label.
Alfredo Polier (vocals) was born in Holguin, Cuba. He graduated from the Institución Pedagógico de Holguín with a degree in Musical Education. As a professional solo vocalist he was listed with the Centro Provincial de la Música “Adolfo Guzman” in Havana. He was Artistic Director of musical and dance productions in several of Havana’s major theaters. Also in Havana, Alfredo worked as an instructor in the Centro Nacional de Cultura Comunitaria and the Centro Nacional de Escuelas de Arte, and as assistant director in the Centro Nacional de Superación de la Enseñanza Artistica. Alfredo relocated to Seattle in 2006.
Steve Smith (co-bandleader, bongo, guiro) is a native of Seattle and a long-time admirer of popular Cuban music. He began to study Cuban percussion, music and dance in the mid-70's at Washington State University while earning a degree in Spanish language and literature. He currently performs with Supersones and Orchestra Zarabanda, and is the founder of Conjunto Meneo.
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