Jazz and Latin American music worlds will merge tomorrow night in Killian Hall when vocalist/composer Mili Bermejo and drummer/arranger George Schuller join forces with a septet of horns and rhythm in "Identity: New Music for a New Century."
Bermejo, a professor at Berklee College of Music, has performed extensively throughout the Americas and was awarded the New England Foundation for the Arts Achievement in Jazz Award in 1998. Her music draws on her Mexican and Argentinean roots, growing out of Latin American rhythm and song.
The first part of her MIT performance will feature duets, trios and quartets written by Bermejo and performed by Bermejo and her husband, double bassist Dan Greenspan and other ensemble members (Donny McCaslin, tenor saxophone/flute; Russ Johnson, trumpet; Oscar Noriega, alto saxophone/bass clarinet; J.C. Sanford, trombone; and Tim Ray, piano).
The second half of the concert is a result of a long-standing collaborative effort between Bermejo and Schuller. Schuller, a veteran, Brooklyn-based jazz arranger and co-founder of the Orange Then Blue and Schulldogs ensembles, has created octet arrangements of Latin and South American music for Bermejo that preserve the lyricism of her style while adding elements of jazz improvisation. "The way [Schuller] can put together content and emotion with his jazz is absolutely fantastic," said Bermejo.
For tomorrow's performance, Schuller has arranged "Dorotea la Cautiva" by Argentinean composer Ariel Ramirez; "Cancion" by Cuban composer Pablo Ramirez; "Comecar de Novo" by Brazilian Ivan Lins; and "Acuarela Veracruzana" by Bermejo's father Guillermo Bermejo, a Mexican composer, singer and guitarist. To Bermejo, "Acuarela Veracruzana" is especially endearing because it is both her father's work and an excellent arrangement by Schuller. "The song becomes a masterpiece through George," she said.
Bermejo and Schuller hope to record their work on a CD in the future. Currently Bermejo and Greenspan record for the Xenophile label and GM Recordings. Schuller's work can be found on New World Records and GM Recordings.
"Identity: New Music for a New Century" takes place on Thursday, Jan. 17 at 8 p.m. in Killian Hall, preceded by a pre-concert talk by the musicians at 7:15 p.m. There is a $10 suggested donation for admission. For more information, call x2-2283. The group will perform Friday, Jan. 18 at 9 and 10:30 p.m. in Greenwich Village's Cornelia St. Cafï¿½. For more information about the New York show, call (212) 989-9319.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 16, 2002.