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Grammy winners join Sac State's Latin Jazz concert


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Members of Sacramento State's Latin Jazz Ensemble. (Sacramento State/Craig Koscho)

Sac State’s Latin Jazz Ensemble is experiencing a rebirth after falling off the charts during the state’s economic crisis, and its first major concert in five years features two notable guest performers who also happen to be recent Grammy winners.

Trombonist Jamie Dubberly and percussionist Carlos Caro, both of whom won Grammys this year as part of the Pacific Mambo Orchestra, will join the Ensemble at 8 p.m. Monday, March 10, at the campus Music Recital Hall. The program includes several songs written or arranged by Dubberly for his Orquesta Dharma, including “Elsa’s Blues,” “Mambo Pacific” and Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ’Bout a Thing.”

Tickets are $10 general, $7 seniors and $5 students, at the University Ticket Office, (916) 278-4323 or

In 2008, the Latin Jazz Ensemble fell victim to state budget cutbacks. Some independent student Latin jazz combos still made occasional appearances, but it wasn’t until 2012 that the ensemble saw its first stirrings of resurgence. It was then that Professor Steve Roach, director of Sac State’s Jazz Program, approached graduate student Carlos McCoy about leading the group.

“This has been like a small seed that has blossomed,” McCoy says.

Even though he had extensive training in jazz, McCoy says he was looking for something that connected more with his Latin culture because that was the music he grew up with. That and Roach’s invitation were a fortuitous coincidence.

“Latin jazz allows you to connect with people through the dance movement, but it still retains the complexity of jazz,” McCoy says.

The first semester, the group did a couple of dates. The next semester, the number of dates doubled, and more followed, at venues such as campus Wednesday Nooner concerts and Sac State’s Festival of the Arts.

In rehearsal, the nine musicians already are producing a polished sound that makes it impossible to sit still. That dynamic will only increase with the addition of their two guest artists.

In addition to the Pacific Mambo Orchestra, Dubberly has his own band, Orquesta Dharma, and is a lecturer at CSU Stanislaus in Turlock.

Caro has played with many established Bay Area performers such as Jesus Diaz, Jorge Santana and Rebeca Mauleón.

Recruiting musicians for the University’s Latin Jazz Ensemble did not prove too daunting for McCoy. “I just called people I had already worked with,” McCoy says. “Right now, there are many students interested in performing with the group.”

One of the group’s more recent members is Rose Cangelosi, a senior in jazz studies and drum set performance. While a jazz player and performer with many musicians at venues throughout the city, she was not all that familiar with Afro-Cuban music. “It’s a completely different world as far as music goes,” Cangelosi says. “But as soon as I started studying it, I totally fell in love with the music.”

She notes that the music is quite infectious.

“It’s definitely a spirit lifter,” she says. “We have a lot of energy and get people dancing or moving in their seats.”

For more about the Music Department’s programs, visit or call (916) 278-5191. For media assistance, call Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156. – Craig Koscho