Edmar Castaneda: Tiny Desk Concert

February 8, 2010

Edmar Castaneda is the sort of musician who isn’t afraid to challenge the established order. He’s carving out a place for himself in Latin jazz on an instrument you don’t often hear in his chosen genre: the Colombian harp. He’s adapted intricate traditional fingerpicking techniques to play jazz melodies along with the Afro-Cuban tumbao (bass line). As you can see and hear for yourself in this Tiny Desk Concert, he can switch between rural Colombian dance music and jazz with a twist of his wrist. Literally.


September 3, 2009 from WBGO – Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood is a lofty, beautiful barn or maybe a riff on a country church, with natural wood and great acoustics. For the big concerts, Tanglewood throws open the back doors to listeners on the lawn.

Looking in, you see an intense young man on his feet, his body wrapped around his Colombian harp — slightly smaller than the classical harp. There’s a lone trombonist and, sitting on a box with a hole in it, surrounded by drums and toys, a quick-handed percussionist. That box, by the way, is the South American cajon, energized by slapping. Finally, to be regarded with anticipation, there is an unmanned set of vibes.

The superb acoustic music of young Colombian harpist Edmar Castaneda and four-mallet vibesman Joe Locke fills the hall and spills onto the lawn at the Tanglewood Jazz Festival in the Berkshires on Friday evening of Labor Day weekend, 2008.

Castaneda — born in Bogota in 1978 — is humble, and his story impressive. His father is a musician, and his mother took Edmar and his sister to classes in joropo dance: folkloric dance, accompanied by the harp. At 13, young Edmar began to play. Then, like many Colombians, his family moved to the New York area. Castaneda’s official instrument in high school and Five Towns College was the trumpet.


~ by castleqwayr on February 14, 2010.

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