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Liza Sacheli

Felipe Salles Group Presents “Ugandan Suite”

September 19, 2014

September 28 Concert Offers a Fusion of Jazz and African Rhythms


Middlebury, VT—Brazilian saxophonist Felipe Salles will lead an esteemed group of seasoned jazz and world music artists in a presentation of Ugandan Suite on Sunday, September 28 at 8:00 P.M. at Middlebury College’s Mahaney Center for the Arts.  This visionary work, the subject of Salles’ sixth album of the same name, is the first major jazz composition to use Ugandan musical idioms. Middlebury College ethnomusicologist Damascus Kafumbe, who not only contributed to the research of this fusion project, but is also a drummer, xylophonist, harpist, and fiddler on the album and concert, will interview Salles in a pre-concert talk titled  “From Global Soundscapes to an African Composition: Contextualizing Felipe Salles’s Ugandan Suite” at 7:00 P.M.

Ugandan Suite brings together jazz, classical, and African music through its pioneering use of Ugandan musical idioms. The work finds its fundamental source in the East African nation that Salles visited on a 2011 research trip (supported by a Whiting Fellowship Grant). Investigating Ugandan music and native wildlife, interacting with local artists, and spending time at the Makerere and Kyambogo Universities, Salles soaked in unfamiliar sights and sounds that, refracted through his own artistic experiences, found their way into a recording marked by the excitement of discovery and synthesis.


Each movement of the five-part suite is a musical reflection of an East African animal for which it is named (the buffalo, the elephant, the leopard, the rhinoceros, and the lion.) Utilizing the rhythms and musical styles of the various regions where Salles encountered the wildlife, the movements also integrate native Ugandan instruments alongside instruments associated with the Western Hemisphere. Throughout, listeners will hear a mélange of interwoven sounds as the strains of African tribal rhythms and Congolese rhumba, Brazilian and Caribbean beats, American jazz improvisation, hip-hop and drum and bass stylings, classical forms, and minimalism joyously intermingle. Ugandan Suite is the kind of rare work that expands musical horizons while simultaneously making the world a smaller, more unified place.


A native of São Paulo, Brazil, Dr. Felipe Salles has been an Assistant Professor of Jazz and African-American Music Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst since 2010. Since 1995 Salles has worked and/or recorded with Randy Brecker, David Liebman, Lionel Loueke, Herb Pomeroy, Jerry Bergonzi, Jovino Santos Neto, Oscar Stagnaro, Duduka Da Fonseca, Luciana Souza, and Bob Moses, among others. Salles’ many honors include a French American Jazz Exchange Grant from French-American Cultural Exchange ACE, and a Chamber Music America grant, both sponsored by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.  His compositions and arrangements have been played all over the world. He currently works as a member of the New World Jazz Composers Octet, Kyle Saulnier’s Awakening Orchestra, Alex Alvear’s Mango Blue, and Grammy-nominated Gonzalo Grau’s La Clave Secreta.

Salles’s musical collaborators make up an international cast of exceptional and receptive musicians, including American saxophone icon David Liebman, Brazilian master percussionist Rogerio Boccato, and Kafumbe (pictured), who is an East African multi-instrumentalist as well as a Middlebury professor. This combination makes Ugandan Suite a unique fusion project.


“This is one of the best progressive works I have heard in a long time. What a great blend of classical, African, and jazz music! The compositions and the arrangements are so well done, and in the most natural way. This music needs to be heard by the largest audience possible.” —African-born jazz guitarist/vocalist Lionel Loueke.

This performance is sponsored by the Middlebury College Department of Music, the Mahaney Center for the Arts, and the Committee on the Arts.

The Felipe Salles Group’s performance of Ugandan Suite will take place on Sunday, September 28, 2014, at 8:00 P.M., in the Concert Hall of the College’s Mahaney Center for the Arts. The pre-concert talk will begin at 7:00 P.M. in Room 221. The Mahaney Center is located at 72 Porter Field Road in Middlebury, just off Route 30 south, on the campus of Middlebury College. Free parking is available. Tickets are $12 for the general public; $10 for Middlebury College faculty, staff, alumni, emeriti, and other ID card holders; and $6 for Middlebury College students. For more information, call (802) 443-MIDD (6433) or go to

Mahaney Center for the Arts
Middlebury College
South Main St./Route 30 South
72 Porter Field Rd.
Middlebury, VT 05753
(802) 443-3168 phone
(802) 443-2834 fax