University of Iowa Latin Jazz Ensemble and Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble


The University of Iowa School of Music will present a free concert by the Latin Jazz Ensemble (LJE), with special guests from the UI Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble at 6:00 p.m. in the RME Hall.


Friday, May 02, 2014 6:00 PM
RME Hall
River Music Experience – 129 N. Main Street

Davenport, Iowa 
Free Admission
Time: 6:00 p.m.


Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble

The Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble is led by James Dreier from the School of Music, Paul Cunliffe from the Department of Dance and well-known folkloric dancer and Latin dance instructor Modei Akyea of the UI Office of University Relations.

In March of 2003 with support from the Division of Performing Arts and International Programs, Cunliffe and Dreier organized a study abroad trip for dance and music students at the University of Iowa. The group traveled to Matanzas, Cuba to study Afro-Cuban folkloric dance, drumming and songs with the world renown folkloric ensembles Los Munequitos and Afrocuba de Matanzas. On returning, the University of Iowa Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble was formed.


Through the UI outreach program Arts Share, the Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble has performed concerts, and lecture/demonstrations on campus and in public schools and colleges throughout the State of Iowa. Each fall semester the Ensemble can be seen at Space Place Theater.

The ensemble studies the folkloric music and dance traditions of Cuba, which has greatly influenced the music of North America and other parts of the world. The styles studied by the group include rumba, guiro, bembe, palo,
mozambique, conga de comparsa, arara, and yesa  to name a few.


Latin Jazz Ensemble

The University of Iowa Latin/jazz Ensemble is a student jazz ensemble that studies and performs the genre of “Latin/jazz.”  The ensemble is directed by James Dreier (Lecturer – jazz dept.) and is considered one of the premier jazz ensembles in the UI jazz program.


Since its inception in 2003, the UI Latin/jazz Ensemble has continued to evolve and progress.  The ensemble performs in major UI concerts, public schools (through the UI Arts Share program), and performance venues throughout Iowa. The ensemble hosts the UI Latin/jazz Festival each year.

In 2004 the group recorded their first CD “Latin High Life” and its second “La Esencia” in 2006.  Jim Musser of the Iowa City Press Citizen wrote: “La Esencia fairly bursts with savvy chops, inventive arrangements and sky high potential.”  The group has since released two more CDs, “Frontera” (2008) and “Esso” (2011).

LJE has performed with many acclaimed Latin Jazz Artists, including Victor Mendoza, Ray Vega, Michael Mossman, Wayne Wallace, Michael Spiro and Felipe Salles.

Boston’s Latin/jazz legend Victor Mendoza says of the UI Latin/jazz Ensemble “…they perform it (the style of Latin/jazz) with as much integrity as any other groups I hear or work with, around the world.”

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