World-class jazz musician to be featured

Justo Almario, a Grammy Award-winning saxophonist, flutist and clarinetist, will visit Northwestern College May 5 and 6. He will speak and play during the chapel service at 10:05 a.m. on May 6 and solo with the Jazz Band in a free concert at 7:30 that evening in Christ Chapel.

Almario, who previously performed at Northwestern in September 2009 as part of the instrumental jazz band Open Hands, will also conduct a jazz improvisation master class May 5 at 7 p.m. The session, open to all, will be in the choir room of DeWitt Music Hall.

With a style that fuses jazz, South American and other world rhythms, Almario has performed on Grammy Award-winning works such as Linda Ronstadt’s Frenesi, Placido Domingo’s A Mi Alma Latina and Andrae Crouch’s Mercy, as well as the Oscar-winning soundtracks from Happy Feet and Sideways.

A native of Colombia, Almario has also performed with the likes of Queen Latifah, Jennifer Lopez, Freddie Hubbard, Roy Ayers, Sergio Mendes, Billy Higgins, Tito Puente, Bebe Winans, Chaka Kahn and Herb Alpert. Almario is currently working on an album meant to celebrate his 45-year career in the music industry.

Almario studied at the prestigious Berklee College of Music before doing a stint with Mongo Santamaria as the band’s musical director. Also a composer, arranger and clinician, he has taught at the Henry Mancini Institute and UCLA.

During the May 6 concert, Almario will solo with Northwestern’s Jazz Band on Emergency Stopping Only by Jeff Skeffington; Al Fin Te Vi by Ernesto Lecuona; Roll ‘Em, a song by Mary Lou Williams written for and recorded by Benny Goodman; and Elevation, a piece composed for Almario by Brian Swartz.

The concert will also feature Northwestern’s Percussion Ensemble. The ensemble will perform David Macbride’s Quiet, a theatrical work incorporating movement by seven drummers, and October Mountain by Alan Hovhaness. Log Cabin Blues by George Hamilton Green will feature sophomore Charlotte Richards of Nevada, Iowa, on xylophone.

Almario’s visit is funded by Northwestern’s music department, the Ronald Nelson Scholars and Artists in Residence Program, and the Iowa Arts Council.