Charanga Carolina is a UNC performing ensemble made up of students and guest artists from the community. Like a sports team, the roster varies year to year based on student enrollment and graduations. We're lucky to have a few key players back in Charanga this fall (Caity Bunch on flute, Alex Williams on piano, and Ryan Raven on trumpet, among others), as well as a whole new crop of student Charangueros.
With more trumpets than trombones this semester, however, director David Garcia has rotated timba charts out of Charanga's book, for the time being. "To play Los Van Van, you really need the 3 trombones," David says.
What emerges stronger this season are the strings, with 5 strong players in the violin section. What better way to showcase this than by playing danzón, the original mainstay of the charanga orchestra, and the genre from which later developments such as the mambo and the cha cha chá emerged.
With its slower tempo and more classical sound, danzón may seem like a staid alternative, but it's an important building block in the history of Cuban music, and still forms the basis of many Latin jazz compositions to this day. Playing danzón well is challenging, because there's not much cover for the musicians, and its rhythmic shadings have their own subtle idiosyncrasies. Danzón builds slow, but the groove payoff in the end is large. Hear a modern echo in the cha-rock slowcookers of the 60s and 70s, songs like "Cocinando" ane "Oye Como Va"--based on rhythms that originated, in the way-back time, with danzón.
Charanga Carolina did an impressive job last Sunday, therefore, with their first public performance of this classic danzón "Angoa" at Chapel Hill's Festifall.
"That was the first time I've ever heard live danzón, and it made my day," said dance aficionada Amanda Jackson.
Other new charts in the book this season: an Arsenio Rodriguez son, "Blanca Paloma," and a conjoined version of "Guantanamo" and "Me Voy Pa' Moron." As a dancer, I can tell you these two-for-one charts are heaven to dance to. Thanks, Charanga! Keep up the good work.
Next performance of CHARANGA CAROLINA:
Saturday, October 16 at 8:30 pm at Durham Academy's Fiesta Latina. Free and open to the public! Not only that, but your Fiesta Latina program will get you a discount at the door to see New York salsa band La Excelencia at Fred Astaire studio later that night, which is the official afterparty of DA Fiesta Latina.