ERIE, Pa. — What do jawbones and boxes have in common? Ancient rhythms and a unique jazz concert.
That is exactly what happened when the Gabriel Alegría Afro-Peruvian Sextet performed at the Erie Art Museum on Sunday.
The internationally-acclaimed band, based in both New York City and Lima, Peru, blends multiple genres and strains of music.
“Afro-Peruvian jazz music is a combination of the sensibilities of coastal music in Peru, which is where the black legacy of the music lies, with American jazz music,” said the band’s founder, Gabriel Alegría.
He said a couple of the instruments at the core of their sound are simply wooden boxes, such as the cajon and cajita.
Perhaps, even more unusual, is the quijada de burro, or a donkey’s jawbone, which is an instrument that originates from Africa.
Those are “the three principal instruments of Afro-Peruvian music,” said Alegría. “And that’s kind of the heart and soul of our music and what we do.”
It was the fourth time the Erie Art Museum has hosted the ensemble, which had last visited in 2015.
Kelly Armor, the museum’s director of folk art and education, said, “This kind of concert fits beautifully into the fact that art is about culture and it’s about making connections with artists–be them sonic jazz artists or visual artists.”
Alegría travels the world with his fellow musicians, but he spoke fondly of Erie.
“It’s always great to be here. Really great fans. Really great, dedicated listeners. And the Erie Art Museum has been our home here. And I’m sure we’ll be coming back.”
Erie Art Museum is also the sponsor of the annual Jazz and Blues Festival.