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..."
Blending traditional and contemporary salsa with Brazilian music, funk, jazz and pop, DIÁSPORA provides the ULTIMATE catalyst for an engaging live outfit, delicately poised between its infectious appeal and its technically sophisticated sensibility. Since their second birthday, the band has been developing a repertoire of original songs that bring together the driving, pulsating salsa and samba rhythms with the rich harmonies of Bossa Nova, soul and acid jazz, combining English lyrics with strains of Spanish and Portuguese, to create a new pan-Latin fusion.
The original songs take influences ranging South American pop, Spanish rumba, nu-Bossa, funk and reggaeton, with a lyrical interplay between love, musical intoxication and images from the natural world. They bring the technical sensibility of jazz and big band music with the deep indigenousness of the traditions that inspire them; lending itself to a sound that simultaneously has that cosmopolitan international flavour yet one that sticks true to its roots.
The arrangements themselves are geared towards improvisation and spontaneity; containing flexible, open platforms which allow the musicians to really stretch out and to explore their musical territory, punctuated with unifying sections that bring the band into triumphant moments of tightness and togetherness.
DIÁSPORA has become a real VIBE band; analogous to a single, living breathing organism, yet free and open at the same time, lending itself to bursts of collective spontaneity - clapping in clave, improvised vocal refrains and onstage swaying. The combination of its expansive 11-piece lineup and its diverse influences from Latin American and mainstream popular and world rhythms make for a true musical carnival...
"While it is easy to describe the music of DIÁSPORA as 'salsa' or 'samba'; for us, these are only short cuts in the infinite labyrinth of language which helps one to understand where we are coming from, musically. I prefer to describe it as the DIÁSPORA sound, because it is the sound that we want to hear, one that our minds and souls are longing for. It has different energies; at times, valiant, transcendental and voyeuristic; at times, strangely sad and 'saudade' (without losing its cheeky tongue); at times, radiantly jubilant, celebratory and bursting with life. Above all, it is fundamentally human, because our music is the collective expressive of our individual experiences."
The Brass Section
The brass section is an integral feature of the DIÁSPORA sound; it is what gives it that 'brass band' essence, and it is treated with equal importance - both with its sectional playing and with its individual soloists - as the vocalists. Inspired by the big bands of Paquito D'Rivera, Arturo Sandoval, Chucho Valdes and Dizzy Gillespie, DIÁSPORA brings that classic sweet sound of screaming trumpet, sensuous saxophone and deep, soulful trombone into the mix; punctuated by dynamic moments of viscosity reminiscent of the traditional marching bands that played such an important part in the formulation of this music.
Weddings, parties and private / corporate events
DIÁSPORA blends sophistication with FUN and it works equally well as an amazing party band available for weddings, parties and private / corporate events. Whether it is cheesy commercial Hollywood hits, sophisticated Latin jazz, straight-up contemporary salsa dance music or old school Cuban classics, it is completely up to you! And of course like all great bands DIÁSPORA will judge what the audience respond to on the day and are prepared to change the set list ‘on the fly’...
“Clave... To us the word goes beyond explanations and definitions. It means life, salsa, the food of our leisure time, the motion of intense rhythm, the emotion of 20,000 people simultaneously grooving to the natural sounds of life. It’s being played in beat, on key, on clave... It means to be on top of things, to be playing it right... Clave is history, it’s culture. African drums from far off places like Nigeria, Dahomey, and Ghana married the Spanish guitar to bring us clave. The seeds were planted in the Caribbean and now their grandchild is Salsa...” CLAVE MAGAZINE DIÁSPORA UNITED IN THE LATIN BEAT
DIÁSPORA is a UK-based Latin band bringing you a one-way ticket to the music of the Americas. The 11-piece lineup (2 vocalists, 3 percussionists, 4 brass, piano and bass) lends itself to an expansive BIG BAND sound without losing the dynamism and spark of a small group, and it combines sensuous vocals, sophisticated horn lines and explosive percussion solos... With their vision to unite the rhythms of the Americas, their music is uplifting, inspiring and unifying, celebrating the diversity of cultures that arose out of the African Slave Trade, whilst focusing on the Cuban, Brazilian and globalized SALSA sounds which have become significant musical languages and forms of solidarity and cultural exchange among communities throughout the world.
DIÁSPORA is not your regular salsa band... it’s a LATIN band, in the wider sense; freely mixing salsa with jazz, funk and contemporary popular music styles to create an explosive mix of sounds... it’s a BIG BAND by its very nature - equipped with all of the credentials to make for an exhilarating live outfit - engaging vocalists, a burning hot rhythm section and a big fat brass section... With their critically acclaimed fusion of rhythms, DIÁSPORA is one of the most exciting new projects to emerge on the UK Latin scene today.
“DIÁSPORA... The word has a universal meaning in many languages - it is all about dispersed peoples coming together, and the amazing musical fusions that this has created. Our sound has the spirit of salsa, but the swing of samba, and we combine these rhythms with jazz, funk and infusions of contemporary popular music styles from around the world - it is a real melting pot...”
Rory Duffy (saxophonist and director)
DIÁSPORA has performed all over the UK, touring concert venues, events both private and corporate, festivals, showcases and weddings. Previous clients include Band on the Wall, Cultural Collage World Music Festival, KLM Airways, KRO Ltd, Manchester Food & Drink Festival, Manchester Jazz Festival, Manchester Salon, Matt & Phred’s Jazz Club, Prestwich Festival, Royal Northern College of Music, Salsa de Cuba, Salsa Direct and WPA Health Insurance.
DIÁSPORA brings together a collective of musicians from all over the UK - including London, Manchester, Liverpool, Bournemouth and Lancashire. Its members are all experienced musicians who have played with some of the UK’s top bands within the jazz and world music circuit. Many of them are distinguished music graduates from UK music colleges and universities and from institutions around the world. DIÁSPORA also brings in a variety of guest artists, further expanding their wide range of material.
DIÁSPORA brings the 11-piece band as standard, however it also breaks down into a range of smaller lineups anything down to 5 members.
Storming gig last night big band Battersea Park - our best yet!!! Photos/videos will be with you very soon. Still recovering from that mojito. Now where are my maracas?