The music of TONY VACCA'S WORLD RHYTHMS ENSEMBLE is a free-flowing earthy fusion of Jazz, World Music, and Spoken Word. Combining elements of traditional African, Middle Eastern and Afro-Cuban rhythms with the American-born tradition of jazz innovation, they create a sound that is simultaneously elegant and wild. They effortlessly blend the hypnotic and powerful sound of giant West-African balafons with the urban bite of a jazz saxophone, the dreamy lyricism of electric violin and the funk and magic of electric bass like you've never heard. All mixed well with a touch of Spoken Word and some blow-your-mind spectacular percussion.
What makes this band so "above and beyond" is the players themselves and their long-term commitment to working together. The crew includes: Tony Vacca on balafon, gongs, and percussion, Tim Moran on saxophones, Joe Sallins on electric bass and percussion, Steve Leicach on djembe, congas, balafon, and percussion, and Derrik Jordan on electric violin, percussion and voice.
For special projects the band expands to include an international cast of world class guest performers:
-Massamba Diop, Senegalese master of the tama or talking drum, who is a member of Baaba Maal's world famous band.
-Abdou Sarr, a truly amazing, totally athletic dancer from Senegal.
-Sekou Sylla, dancer/drum and former member of Guinea's Les Ballets Africaines.
***Poets Abiodun Oyewole and Ms. Tantra Zawadi are frequent collaborators on recordings and concert performances. The presence of either or both of these one-of-a-kind performers adds an indescribable depth that only poetry can achieve.
In essence, the group is a self-contained festival of World Music. This is no surprise to those who know and follow their work. Vacca's own description of the group helps to explain how and why they've been playing together for well over a decade;
"It's no accident that this group is like it is.I mean every one of these players is a dedicated musician, composer, and leader in his own right. We've created a collective kind of storytelling with this music. Every time we play together I'm amazed by what happens. My respect and appreciation for each of these musicians just keeps getting deeper. I guess when you put this kind of extraordinary skill together with our experience and the spirit of generosity that everyone brings to this music, amazing things are going to happen on a regular basis. It just blows my mind."
Each of these players has a unique sound and a profound influence on the music. And all of these musicians work together in formats from duo to septet, in a process that illustrates the power of music as a global common ground, both preserving and changing the traditions from which it is made.
This group of players offers a very wide variety of workshops, from "hands-on" percussion orchestras, to lecture demonstrations of World Music, Jazz and Spoken Word compostions. They can be split up and do three different workshops simultaneously, in three different rooms, or they can work together to give an inside view to how they create this extraordinary music. They've worked in schools at every grade level, and with every level of skill, and they've done master classes for professional musicians. If you can envision it, they can do it.