Latin Jazz: Beyond the Clave

COURSE DATES: June 26 to July 9, 2017

  • Unravel the mysteries of Afro-Caribbean rhythms as you work side-by-side with some of the world’s leading performers and teachers of Latin jazz.
  • Perform in student ensembles coached by expert faculty.
  • Attend daily workshops on a variety of subjects – topics will include tumbao, harmonic materials in Latin jazz, music of Haiti, etc.
  • Learn how to improvise effectively in various Latin jazz styles.
  • Compose and/or arrange music and hear it performed.
  • This course will culminate in a public student concert.

undergrad: MUSIC 421/3 units
graduate: MUSIC 621/3 units


Intermediate to advanced jazz students. Strong reading skills and some knowledge of Latin music is a plus.

1) Submit a brief bio and resume, and audio or video (CD, DVD, YouTube or other link) of two contrasting performances – at least one of which must contain improvisation.
2) Upload the materials listed in step one with your completed Registration Form by May 1, 2017

Professor Douglas Leibinger


David Sá
Grammy Award-winner David Sánchez is recognized around the world as one of the finest saxophonists of his generation. His mastery of the instrument is undeniable and his sound unmistakable. World-renowned jazz writer and critic Howard Reich saluted the bandleader saying, “Sánchez’s prowess on saxophone is matched by the intellectual depth of his concept and compositions”. Reich also noted “Technically, tonally and creatively, he seems to have it all. Recordings such as The Departure (1994), Sketches of Dreams (1995), Obsesion (1998) and Cultural Survival (2008) showed Sánchez merging jazz syntax with the musical dialects of his native Puerto Rico and other Caribbean and Latin American sources.” It was another recording, Coral, that would earn David his fifth Grammy Award nomination and his first Latin Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Album in 2005. Cultural Survival, David’s 2008 debut on Concord Records, earned the artist his sixth Grammy Award nomination. David was also the recipient of Chamber Music America’s (CMA) New Jazz Works grant. The prestigious commission was for the creation of La Leyenda Del Cañaveral, an extended composition inspired by a poem paying tribute to those who slaved in Puerto Rico’s sugar cane fields.

Miguel de Armas  –
Miguel De Armas is a versatile jazz pianist and composer. He weaves strands of Cuban and American jazz influences in a compellingly eclectic way. Born in Havana, Cuba, Miguel studied at the Conservatory Amadeo Roldan and graduated from the Instituto Superior de Arte with a Bachelor in Cuban Percussion. In 1988, he co-founded the acclaimed Cuban band NG La Banda Orchestra with José Luis Cortés and other prestigious Cuban musicians. For more than a decade, he toured with this band around the world and performed at world-class Jazz Festivals such as the North Sea, Montreux, Nice, Nantes, Normandia, Couleur Café, Barranquijazz, Río de Janeiro Film Festival, among others. Miguel has performed with Ivan Lins, Clark Terry, Tania Maria, Chico Freeman, Dave Valentin, Sammy Figueroa, Robbie Ammen, Gilberto Gil, Ermeto Pascual, and many more. Now Miguel has brought his musical talents to the city Ottawa, Canada, which he considers his adopted home.

Born and raised in Cuba, Carlitos came to the US after having trained with one of Cuba’s most famous congueros, Jose Luis “Changuito” Quintana. While in Cuba, he played extensively with some of Havana’s best-known Latin jazz and salsa groups, and since coming to the United States, has played with many of the Bay Area’s finest Latin groups. After extensive participation in various musical groups, he decided to start his own projects with local Bay Area musicians: Cuban-style salsa performed by Sabor De Mi Cuba, where he debuts his musical talents through original songwriting and composition. The fundamental characteristics of this project are fusions of Afro-Cuban roots influenced by world music. Sabor De Mi Cuba hopes to bring forth edginess to local exponents of music in the Bay Area. In December 2012, he decided to create his own recording entitled Sabor De Mi Cuba, where he experimented with composition and arrangements. The project was recorded and mastered in the prestigious Egrem Studios in Havana, Cuba. According to Tom Ehrlich of Magazine, Sabor De Mi Cuba “is a strong recording, full of elaborate, innovative arrangements, interesting use of chorus, rumba and jazz-influenced dance music . . . the result is a beautiful, swinging recording which should establish Carlitos as a composer, percussionist and band leader to be reckoned with.”

Ernesto Mazar-Kindelán
With the city of Santiago de Cuba as his hometown, Ernesto’s career came as second nature as he was​ submerged into the musical world. He began music studies at the age of eight and​ was always interested in the sound of “that big piece of wood with strings.” While excelling at the music conservatory level, he was one of two students from his class accepted into the country’s capital at the university level. In 2004, Ernesto moved to Havana, Cuba, to attend the prestigious University Instituto Superior de Arte​, where he graduated with a degree in Classical Double Bass and Performance and Teaching. Ernesto taught music theory and ensemble at the Escuela Nacional de Arte. In 2006, Ernesto became the bass player of the Grammy-nominated and internationally popular salsa and timba group, David Calzado y su Charanga Habanera. For more than eight years, he traveled the world performing and recording on numerous albums. ​

Colin Douglas
Colin Douglas began playing music at the young age of eleven years old. Born into a musical family, he experimented with many different instruments as a child, but soon was drawn to drums and percussion. As a student he was exposed to many diverse styles, studying everything from classical percussion to rock, jazz, and funk. After college, Colin became deeply interested in Afro-Cuban music, and after moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, he began an extensive study of Cuban folkloric percussion with esteemed instructor Michael Spiro, as well as many other master Cuban teachers. As a professional drumset artist and percussionist, Colin performed and recorded with an extensive list of diverse artists such as the Wayne Wallace Quintet, Jesus Diaz y Su QBA, Chuchito Valdez, Donna Summer, Slash, Enrique Bunbury, Eddie Palmieri, and many others.

Kendrick Freeman is a Bay Area drummer, percussionist, and teacher. He has background in both drum set and hand drums, having studied with American artists and musicians from Ghana, Congo, and the Caribbean, with an emphasis on the music of Haiti. His drum set and traditional studies inform each other, and he has been flexible enough to work with wide range of artists in a number of styles and settings, among them national dobro ace Rob Ickes, string wizard Joe Craven, banjoist Alison Brown, Pakistani singer Sukhawat Ali Khan, the flamenco group Rumba Tribe, and blues artists lke Soul Fuse and guitartist Michael Barclay. He has performed with Bay Area Haitian dance companies Group Petit La Croix, led by Blanche Brown and Rara Tou Limen, directed by Portsha Jefferson and master drummer Daniel Brevil. Like all working musicians, he does freelance work with a large pool of Bay Area players. He teaches privately and at Sonoma State University, where he currently leads two performance ensembles. Kendrick has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Alliance for California Traditional Arts.


Course Coordinator Doug Leibinger is a multi-instrumentalist, educator, composer, arranger, and the director of the jazz program at Sonoma State University. He teaches most of the concentration’s core classes, including jazz improvisation, jazz composition and jazz arranging. He also directs the 19-piece SSU Jazz Orchestra and hosts the weekly “jazz forum” master class series. Originally from Chicago, Doug holds three degrees in jazz performance from the University of Miami, where he performed and recorded with many jazz greats, including Maria Schneider, Vince Mendoza, Claire Fischer, Randy Brecker, John Faddis, Carl Allen and many more. He was trombone soloist on the Grammy-nominated recording of Maria Schneider’s Three Romances by the University of Miami Concert Jazz Band. Doug has also performed and recorded with a diverse array of pop, rock and Latin artists, including Chayanne, P. Diddy, Peter Cetera, Sam Moore, Jerry Lewis, Jim Belushi, Jimmy Buffett, Jose Luis “el Puma” Rodriguez etc. Doug’s compositions and arrangements have been featured at several professional conferences and his big band compositions are published by ejazzlines. Since moving to California, he has performed with Royal Crown Revue, Harold Jones & the Bossmen, Sean Carscadden, and Carlitos Medrano; he also traveled to Belgarod, Russia to direct and perform with the students at the Institute of Culture and Art.