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‘We Want to Turn It Into a Party’

Gregorio Uribe Comes to the Hop

The festivities surrounding Dartmouth’s Winter Carnival weekend can be on the chilly side, but it’ll be a heated atmosphere inside the Hopkins Center for the Arts Saturday night when Colombian-born Gregorio Uribe, who’s quickly making a name for himself as a Latin jazz artist in New York, performs with Dartmouth’s Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble.

The monthly gig that Uribe, who turns 28 today, plays with his big band at New York’s Zinc Bar starts out with a set of gentle jazz. Then the music grows progressively more spirited through the evening, until it’s a full-on dance party, complete with patrons dancing on tables. Even in the table-free Spaulding Auditorium, that’s the same type of atmosphere that Uribe hopes to create Saturday night, in Barbary Coast’s 37th annual Winter Carnival concert.

“We want to turn it into a party, and get people dancing by the end, and just be nice and warmed up for the winter carnival,” Uribe said this week.

The Hop audience will also get a taste of the diverse musical palette that Uribe, who plays the accordion and drums, has cultivated over the last 10 years. In his late teens, Uribe set out from his home city of Bogota, Colombia, with two friends to perform music across South America and grow acquainted with the continent’s vast musical traditions, including the complex, yet accessible styles of music from Brazil. “It was a different setting because it was three young guys, sort of backpacking around, but at the same time we were playing Colombian music around the country. So it was interesting to be playing with an accordion in the middle of the beach in Brazil, or on a bus in Chile,” he said.

Following his sojourn, Uribe headed to Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he synthesized the informal training he received as an itinerant musician in South America with formal academics. Attending Berklee also turned him on to the idea of using a big band to convey his Afro-Colombian sound.

“I want to create something that really creates an impact. To me, a large ensemble with 16 or more musicians is something very unique today, especially in the days of technology, when a person with a laptop can do music,” he said. “To bring in that essence of feeling acoustic instruments playing together, is something I know that impacts me and that I know can impact other people.”

A big band is uncommon today, when many musicians find them too expensive or too difficult to manage artistically. It’s especially rare to hear Afro-Colombian sounds performed by a big band, according to Don Glasgo, longtime leader of Barbary Coast.

“He’s really doing something that nobody else is doing, in terms of expressing this Colombian music, through this form of a jazz big band. It is really unique,” Glasgo said.

Gregorio Uribe performs with the Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Hopkins Center for the Arts ($16).

Katie Beth Ryan can be reached at kbryan@vnews.com or 603-727-3242.