African jazz from Peru

Chloe FraserBusselton Dunsborough Times
Seven-piece ensemble Daniel Susnjar Afro-Peruvian Jazz Group will perform in Dunsborough next month.
Camera IconSeven-piece ensemble Daniel Susnjar Afro-Peruvian Jazz Group will perform in Dunsborough next month.

Multiple award-winning seven-piece ensemble the Daniel Susnjar Afro-Peruvian Jazz Group will bring infectious grooves and emotive melodies to Dunsborough next month as part of the Jazz by the Bay festival.

It was simply chance that sparked Australian drummer and composer Daniel Susnjar’s passion for Afro-Peruvian Jazz music. Introduced to the genre while visiting New York in 2010, Sunsjar watched his first Afro- Peruvian performance and never looked back.

It was upon his return to Miami — where he was studying at the time — that he founded the Daniel Susnjar Afro-Peruvian Jazz Group.

Graduating from the University of Miami with a doctoral degree in Afro-Peruvian Jazz, Sunsjar returned to Australia in 2013.

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He has since toured throughout Australia and abroad with his award-winning ensemble featuring Ricki Malet on trumpet, Luke Minness on saxophone, Harry Mitchell on piano, Jeremy Thomson on guitar, Zac Grafton on bass and Iain Robbie on percussion. Susnjar and his band will launch his new album Sparks as part of their Jazz by the Bay performance.

Susnjar said the band had been touring extensively since 2017, which gave him the opportunity to write to the musical personalities of his band members.

“The process was pretty organic to be honest,” he said.

“I would describe (the album) as party music with a sense of sophistication.

“There’s also a strong element of energetic groove.”

Susnjar said many of the songs featured sounds made by Peruvian instruments including the cajon or box drum, the cajita, a small church box which hangs from the neck, and the quijada, made from the jaw of a donkey.

“These three instruments are a very important backbone of traditional Peruvian percussion set-up,” he said.

The performance will be followed immediately by an Afro-Peruvian jazz workshop, detailing the traditional rhythms, percussion instruments and audience participation techniques used in Afro-Peruvian music.

Susnjar and Robbie will discuss and demonstrate Afro-Peruvian rhythms on traditional instruments. Attendees will also be offered the chance to perform Afro-Peruvian rhythms with the two musicians at the workshop immediately following the live CD launch performance.

“The whole idea behind this is wanting to share the passion we have for this music and a bit about the history and culture behind the music,” Susnjar said.

Daniel Susnjar Afro Peruvian Jazz Group plays at Dunsborough Lions Park on Saturday, June 2.

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