“Wear your dance shoes”: Young Latin jazz bandleader returns as guest artist with Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble, February 12
Gregorio Uribe—whose winning style as a vocalist, accordionist, composer/arranger and bandleader has secured his big band a coveted longstanding gig at a top New York City club and netted raves from writers about both jazz and Latin music—returns to headline the Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble in its 40th annual Winter Carnival Concert on Friday, February 12, at 8 pm, in Spaulding Auditorium. He’ll be joined by percussionists Jonathan Gómez from Colombia and Marcelo Woloski from Argentina.
Uribe was hit in his first guest artist appearance with the Coast, for the 2013 Winter Carnival concert. As with all guest artists working with the student jazz ensemble, Uribe sent ahead musical scores and arrangements for the group to work on ahead of time under the leadership of Coast Director Don Glasgo, then rehearsed with them for a full week before the concert. During that week of residency, Uribe also led numerous interactive workshops for both music and non-music students on different subjects including Colombian music and rhythms, big band arranging, song writing in Latin American styles and band-leading.
Uribe is one of the most promising artists in New York City’s Latin music scene. Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, he spent his teenage years playing drum set in rock bands, accordion in classic Colombian vallenato serenades and guitar in a bolero trio. At the age of 17 he backpacked through eight countries in South America performing in streets, buses and beaches of big cities and small towns. Later, he studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he was awarded the Steve Gadd Zildjian Scholarship Award and graduated summa cum laude in 2007. He moved to New York City in 2008 and has since then established himself firmly in the heart of the city’s music scene.
Today, at the age of 29, Uribe is the leader of the Gregorio Uribe Big Band (GUBB), a 16-piece ensemble that combines Colombian rhythms such as cumbia and chandé with funk and powerful jazz arranging techniques. The band uniquely combines top New York musicians variously from Argentina, the US, Canada, Mexico and Colombia—trumpets, trombones and clarinets soaring over an extensive percussion section, with the bandleader of the band jauntily dancing and rocking out on his accordion. GUBB is reminiscent of such vintage Colombian big bands of the 50’s and 60’s as those led by Lucho Bermúdez and Pacho Galán—with a fresh, modern twist that brings in young listeners. This February 2016 the band completes five years at Zinc Bar in the Greenwich Village, where they perform on the first Thursday of every month sharing Colombian and Latin rhythms with hundreds of people from all corners of the world. Their single Caribe Contigo was featured on MTV’s Tr3s for four weeks in the US and the UK.
“Uribe is a strong leader,” wrote the blog Newyorklatinculture.org. “Even the musicians that aren’t Colombian play like Colombians. And this is not folklore. It’s hot big band jazz. Wear your dance shoes. Get there early because Uribe fills the house regularly. This band is very popular with girlfriends.”
Uribe has also taken his music to such venues as The Kennedy Center, New York City’s Celebrate Brooklyn, Blue Note, Iridium Jazz Club and SOB’s, Miami’s Bongo’s Café, the Colombian Embassy to The Netherlands, Boston’s Regattabar, The Rhode Island State House, Salem (MA) Jazz Festival, Newark, NJ’s Prudential Center and Gaira Cumbia House in Bogotá, Colombia. He has performed with Grammy winners Carlos Vives and Rubén Blades and has been interviewed by media including CNN, Univisión, El Tiempo (Colombia) and The Miami Herald.
In 2012, Uribe released his first solo album, Pluma Y Vino (“Pen and Wine”) at the Blue Note. The album showcases his more intimate side through songs that speak of love and shed light on social injustice rooted in his homeland. In the 2014 Uribe was commissioned to write a composition for New York’s Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, directed by Arturo O’Farrill. He composed an extended piece titled Suite Colombia, which showcases four different styles of Colombian music combined with jazz big band arranging techniques. The piece was performed in front of thousands on at New York’s Symphony Space.
This past October, GUBB released its first full-length album, Cumbia Universal.
Wrote JazzTimes, “Cumbia Universal is exciting and lively, full of energy and compassion and wisdom concerning what is and what can be. Amazing vocalists, fantastic instrumentalists, bone-breaking rhythms and stunning compositions and arrangements are all underscored with love and warmth. Gregorio Uribe is a visionary and a prophet of what can and will be, driven by the universality of music.”