Bringing Together Latin Jazz, Salsa, and New Orleans: Jamie Dubberly and Orquesta Dharma


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Taking a musical project from idea to reality is certainly a process that involves a number of different resources. On the one hand, time is a major factor – individuals not only need to out in the time for logistics, but they also just need space to dedicate some creative energy to the cultivation of their concept. They may need to invest some time into creating sheet music or doing demo recordings; there’s a multitude of items at consume time. A musician hoping to make a project a reality needs to gather the individual participants, which may be the factor to make or break the project. Collecting the right combination of musicians is an essential task; the supporting musicians need to share the same perspective to bring an artistic vision to life. Then there’s the technical aspects of recording and performance, which involves studio time, sound equipment, and so much more. In reality, there’s a long list of necessities when it comes to making an idea a reality, but there is one common factor – they all rely on one more important resource – money.

Fortunately, we’re in a wonderful time period where more independent music projects are finding the financial resources that they need through Kickstarter campaigns. This process is about more than simply making money though; its a chance for fans to make sure that the artists they love have the opportunity to make the music that inspires them. In the Latin Jazz world, this has resulted in the recording and distribution of a number of outstanding albums, including I Wanna Work for You from Alexa Weber Morales, and more. We’re lucky that so many Latin Jazz fans are willing to put their money behind their passion and support a diverse collection of artists. As each new quality project arises, it’s important that we pay attention and move the music forward by pledging our support.

Currently, trombonist Jamie Dubberly is running a KickStarter campaign to fund a second release with his Latin Jazz group Orquesta Dharma. The group made a serious splash with their first release, Road Warrior, which contained a great collection of original Latin Jazz compositions and arrangements with a Bay Area flair. There’s a heavy collection of fine musicians that serve as regulars in the band, such as pianist Christian Tumalan, percussionist Carlos Caro, bassist Sam Bevans, and more. In addition, Dubberly regularly brings in special guests such as Santana percussionist Karl Perrazo, Pacific Mambo Orchestra trumpet player Steffan Keuhn, and vocalist Willie Torres. Dubberly certainly has the artistic vision to support this release too – growing into a distinctly new and unique concept for this second album. By all means, this is the type of project that we want to support on KickStarter.

There’s a little less than two weeks left in Jamie Dubberly’s KickStarter campaign, so we wanted to get the full scoop. Jamie was kind enough to answer a few of my questions to fill us in on his thoughts for the new album. There’s potential for a great Latin Jazz album here, so checkout the interview below and then head over to Jamie Dubberly’s KickStarter page to support the album!

LATIN JAZZ CORNER: Orquesta Dharma evolved pretty organically, growing from a project to test out a couple of original songs to Road Warrior – what do you think the band brings to the table that has made it stand out?

JAMIE DUBBERLY: First off, thanks Chip for taking the time to do this interview. Me and the band really appreciate the opportunity! I think what we bring to the table that stands out is a big , driving sound, and a front line that stands out instrumentally, having trombone, tenor saxophone and baritone saxophone as the horn section ( and now tuba, for our next album). It’s a dark, rich, low horn sound that I really dig, with a flexibility in terms of timbre- particularly because the saxophones are able to switch to flute (and alto flute), for a completely different sound. Also, the rhythm section really drives the band hard, and creates a real strong swing that has become a vital part of the sound we have.

LJC: You found some success with Road Warrior – how did the positive response from this album help you move forward as a musician?

JD: It has been really motivating for me, to have gained the positive response! From press, audiences at our performances, and fellow musicians, the response has in a way, been affirming to me – that we are on a good track here, and has helped to inspire me to continue the project.

LJC: You’re currently in the process of raising money on KickStarter to record your second album – what will the funds help you accomplish?

JD: The funds will help us to record the album, pay for studio tracking time, mixing time, mastering, album art work and design, licensing fees, duplication, digital distribution, pay the musicians for their time, and if we raise enough, could also help pay for radio promotion and a publicist.

LJC: The new album has such a great concept, connecting Latin Jazz, Salsa, and New Orleans Brass Band music – how do you see the connection between these styles?

JD: The idea for the album actually came about as a result of a concert that was presented at the school where I teach trombone, low brass, and jazz combos- CSU Stanislaus. There was a concert being presented by the jazz department, which was to include a student combo I was leading , A New Orleans style brass band. Also on the program was my group – Orquesta Dharma, presenting music from our Road Warrior album. I thought a nice way to conclude the concert would be to have both groups play together on something. So I took an arrangement the brass band group was working on, one of my originals, and put in a transition that would lead to Dharma coming in and finishing the tune as a cha-cha-cha. It really worked nicely, and that got me thinking- what if I did the same thing with other tunes?! The clave is already in the NOLA brass band music, what if we explore that situation? That ultimately led to deciding to base the next album concept on this kind of fusion.

LJC: What do you plan to do musically to bring this combination of styles alive on the new album?

JD: Well, I started thinking: what if we fuse not only cha-cha-cha with the brass band groove, but mambo/salsa grooves too? perhaps even 6/8 ? Have different tempos and styles from the afro/cuban jazz tradition represented all with a connection to the NOLA brass band tradition. To do that, I decided we definitely needed a tuba on this, so I asked my friend Mike Rinta- and I was really happy he offered to be a part of it. So it started to grow from there ( and still is growing, I am currently still working on and refining ideas for arrangements, although as of this time we have already recorded 4 of tunes to be on the album)

LJC: You’ve got a powerful line-up at includes a number of too-notch musicians from the Bay Area – what do these folks bring to the band that will make your concept come to life?

JD: Man, these guys that are a part of this project are all such incredible musicians! I am so honored and blessed they want to be involved in this! They bring a wealth of amazing experience and the highest level of musicianship to the table. In the rhythm section we have Andy Nevala and Christian Tumalan on piano ( and maybe even a surprise guest from LA ), Fred Randolph and Sam Bevan on bass ( and possibly another guest), Brian Andres on drums, Carlos Caro, Silvestre Martinez, Omar Ledezma, Javier Cabanillas, and guests Christian Pepin, and Camilo Molina on percussion. Then in the horn section we have Pete Cornell, on tenor saxophone, Charlie Gurke and Darren Smith, baritone saxophone ( with some possible flute doubling from these guys), Mike Rinta on tuba and trombone, and special guest on trumpet – Steffen Kuehn. Also, we hope to have Willie Torres from New York, as a special guest vocalist , and also Joe Bagale, a great bay area vocalist.

LJC: I love your idea of recording the album live to capture the feeling of the music- why do you feel that this is essential to this combination?

JD: Thank you! Yeah, it really seemed necessary to get the spirit of this album idea- to record as much of it as possible live. We had a session a couple weeks ago, and although it was demanding in terms of studio resources and logistics, yielded some great grooves and energy and felt really good! I really want to continue that if I can with this- to get that live energy, of everyone playing at the same time, you can’t recreate that in a studio if you layer things. You can come close, but it’s not the same.

LJC: How do you see this album effecting the musical and artistic evolution of Orquesta Dharma – will this project help the band grow into something new?

JD: I really hope so! I really want to keep the tuba in the horn section, and to see what happens with this idea of combining the brass band sound with afro/caribbean jazz and salsa. It’s an awesome combination, in my opinion!

LJC: Any last thoughts on the KickStarter campaign and the new album?

JD: Whew!! The kickstarter is making me nervous!! But I am excited about the album, and know it’s going to be something special. Thanks again for the opportunity , Chip!

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This story appears courtesy of The Latin Jazz Corner by Chip Boaz.
Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved.


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