Larry Calland infectious Afro-Cuban jazz disputes the impression that the Midwestern United States is culturally close minded and not receptive to out-of-the-mainstream musical ideas. Working deep in America's heartland, Calland has put together a group devoted to and specializing in Afro-Cuban jazz. With his interest in this jazz form beginning to percolate while a student at Kent State University, Calland formed his first jazz group, Magia Jazz Fusion Ensemble, in 1975 which found work in Toledo. In addition to working at local jazz venues, the group opened for Al Jarreau and Dizzy Gillespie and Calland also performed with Spyro Gyra. His current group, Conga Jazz, works out of Indianapolis. The group has two CDs under its belt. The first, Spirit, was released in 1999 and a second, a live performance, Taste of Indiana in 2001. Calland uses a good assortment of instruments in presenting his renditions of Latin jazz. They run from electronically enhanced keyboards to the sax and other horns, with the result that the group emits waves of highly rhythmic and exciting sounds. The group's energy, enthusiasm, and stamina are remarkable as they deliver one fast number after another. In addition to composing some of the material for the group, Calland performs on a full array of percussive instruments running the gamut from bongos and conga to samba and quail whistle. Calland owes his motivation for his devotion to this jazz style to some of the pioneers of Afro-Cuban jazz, including Willie Bobo, Sheila E., and Pete Escovedo. When not performing at gigs, festivals, and other jazz happenings, Calland enjoys listening to the Yellow Jackets, Spyro Gyra, and Carlos Santamaria.
Share this page