Through the music of Cuban saxophonist / clarinettist PAQUITO D'RIVERA, saxophonist and director Rory Duffy discovered a whole world of music created through the African diaspora and the dispersal of its peoples throughout the Americas.
This discovery led to a journey through the music - as a player, listener, musicologist, arranger, composer, director - exploring the music from all angles and encountering other like-minded musicians along the way. Before long, Rory went to Cuba and Brazil to carry our ethnomusicological fieldwork on the music, its indigenous roots and its subsequent influence on jazz and popular music. Ever since then, Rory has been transcribing, arranging, composing and performing in a wide range of Latin music styles. DIÁSPORA is the culmination of these experiences and the journeys of others through this music, a crossroads.
The big band Latin explosion was formed amongst students at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester in March 2009. Originally a charanga-style orchestra DIÁSPORA began with an after-show concert that explored a range of traditional and folkloric Afro-Cuban and West African music.
"We had this nineteen-piece ensemble consisting of vocals, piano and bass, a four-piece percussion unit, a seven-piece brass section, a string quartet and African mbira... I originally had the idea of creating this lineup in 2007, but I never thought that it could actually materialise. Initially, this show was planned as a one-off concert, but everyone (musicians and audiences alike) enjoyed it so much that they were all asking me 'when is the next gig?' - and so DIÁSPORA was created."
Sure enough, their second performance - 'A Night In Hollywood' - explored Latin music from the opposite perspective, and it was packed full to the brim with showstoppers from hit movies such as 'Copacabana', 'Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights', 'Miami Vice', 'Saludos Amigos' and 'Shall We Dance?' as well as a host of commercial Latin dance club hits. After a long summer spent in the recording studio, their debut performance at Matt & Phred's Jazz Club brought it right home again - combining fresh and feisty salsa with cool Brazilian and funky Latin fusion - for which the band are best known, earning them a monthly residency at the club.
The band celebrated their first birthday in style, back where it all began at the RNCM featuring their Brazilian guest vocalist and the glamorous ‘CHARANGA DIÁSPORA’ string quartet. 2010 (their second year) brought them headline slots at Cultural Collage World Music Festival and Manchester Jazz Festival, earning them critical acclaim... Hot on the heels of their second birthday bash, DIÁSPORA is developing an original body of material that brings together a tight core of driving, pulsating Latin rhythms with the sophisticated harmonies of Bossa Nova, pop, soul and acid jazz - effortlessly blending English lyrics with strains of Spanish and Portuguese - to create a sensational Latin fusion.
DIÁSPORA is essentially a VIBE BAND – putting influences from jazz, funk, rock and pop within a Latin heartbeat. They aim to create, mix, inspire and uplift. They play happy music (most of the time!). They are a crazy bunch of Latino aficionados, passionate about the music they play. They blend their love of the music with their playful, tongue in cheek sense of humor (the more gimmicks the better). Most of all, they are a versatile band that will rock your frocks! With their lovable vocalists, pop horns ‘train’, burning hot rhythm section and percussion artillery, DIÁSPORA is united in the Latin beat.
"I do not always think of DIÁSPORA as a 'band' as such (and, sometimes, I get slightly irritated when people talk about it in this way); it is more like a collective. Musicians come in and out, all of the time, always bringing something new to the table. It is a pool of talent. Every show is a new beginning for us, and we always succeed in creating that magical DIÁSPORA vibe. No matter how much the project develops from show to show, its fundamental aims remain the same; to play the music that we love and are most passionate about, and to transmit this energy to our audiences as much as possible, connecting with them through universal themes of love and fiesta. Our musicians are spread out across the UK, yet they are consistently returning home, bringing with them musical gems and pockets of inspiration collected from other places along the way - in this sense, it is a true DIÁSPORA."
"Through these journeys, we have not only learned about the musical idioms - the cultures from which they originate, the languages, the traditions and the social constructs - but we have learned a great deal about life, about ourselves and about other people; the ways in which individuals interact with one another, and the ways in which these contribute towards the dynamic of the collective, with music as the microcosm of LIFE... Salsa is rooted in the African trinity of love, food and religion (emotional, physical and spiritual fulfilment) and this is at the heart of our music. But we also put a bit of ourselves and our own experiences in the melting pot, and we do not take ourselves too seriously either; our music is as much about fun as it is about fusion..."
RED & BLACK MUSIC