Edmonds Community College musicians hope to play in Cuba

It’s a language that knows no borders or boundaries – a language that is transporting a group of young students to a place that, until recently, has been off limits.

“It’s just really fun,” said 17-year-old trombone player Jazlie-Cate Garcia with a smile. “It makes me feel happy.”

The Edmonds Community College Jazz & Salsa band is hoping to be among the first American college bands to visit Cuba since the travel ban was lifted by President Obama.

The group is trying to raise enough money to bring all 18 members to Havana for a week in March.

“Getting the opportunity to be a cultural ambassador and to absorb some of that culture is pretty exciting,” said pianist David Ballard.

Longtime music instructor John Sanders arranged the trip. He said Cuba is the “Motherland” for Latin music, but the visit will be about much more than that.

“It’s going to be an eye-opener,” said Sanders. “It’s going to be an amazing trip.”

Sanders sees the journey as a rare chance to make an important first impression on a country that has been closed to Americans for generations.

“They’ll see that we’re not what you hear in the news or propaganda. We’re artists. We’re caring, thinking people,” said Sanders.

Sanders believes music is the perfect starting point for a conversation between two cultures that have been silent for so long. To him, it’s a chance to bring harmony to the political dissonance that has filled the air between the two countries for decades.

The band is holding a fundraiser concert Thursday night to help pay the $44,000 in travel expenses. The show features Grammy Award winning Latin musician Carlos Cascante. For more information visit edcc.edu/cuba.

Eric Wilkinson, KING5

October 31, 2016

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