Wednesday, April 13 of the University of Indianapolis’s Jazz Week showcased trumpeter Tito Carrillo in Ruth Lilly Performance Hall of Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center. Carrillo performed a set of eight songs including four of his originals as a jazz composer. With him on stage were four other instrumentalists on saxophone, piano, bass and drums.
Carrillo has been featured in the Chicago jazz and Latin music scenes for decades while also playing some of the most prestigious venues in the world, including Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and London’s Royal Festival Hall, according to the UIndy website for Jazz Week.
He has appeared on more than 20 albums. Currently on the faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he leads his own quintet throughout the Midwest and is an active guest soloist and clinician for school jazz programs, according to the same website.
According to Carrillo, music has been a part of his life since he was an infant.
“I come from a house of devoted music listeners, even though my family had no professional musicians. My father was an avid lover of ‘salsa’ and music from his native Puerto Rico,” Carrillo said. “My sister, who is six years my senior, wore out the late ‘70s soul and funk recordings of Earth, Wind, and Fire; Stevie Wonder; Michael Jackson; you name it.”
Around 11, Carrillo began playing trumpet, with coaching from a teacher who introduced him to styles of both Classical and jazz music.
“Jazz has allowed me to accept myself and my own preferences as valid,” Carrillo said. “It also allows me to be open-minded to other people’s thoughts and opinions, gifts, talents—and be aware of those because what jazz seeks to do is really connect unity and diversity. There is unity in that we all have a role to play on the bandstand but everyone gets to play the way they want. How to become a great musician is actually learning what you don’t want to play and following what you truly want to play.”
For an Introduction to Jazz course offered by the UIndy music department requires students in the class is to write an essay over a jazz performance in the performance hall. During UIndy Jazz Week, students attended some of the concerts to fulfill that requirement. Freshman chemistry and biology major Matt Collins was fulfilling his essay requirement by attending Carillo’s performance.
“I took notes over all of the different styles and things they played,” Collins said. “I’m learning them [the styles of jazz], but I learned a little bit before, because I used to play clarinet.”
Collins said he enjoyed the improvisation the performers included.
“I enjoyed all of this performance, but I especially enjoyed the last part of it because you could just tell that they were all having fun with their improv,” he said.
Freshman jazz studies major Evan Hawk, who performed in the UIndy Jazz Combo concert that kicked off Jazz Week, was looking forward to Carrillo’s performance.
“I was looking forward to completely immersing myself into the experience of jazz week,” Hawk said. “The performance was just dynamite, very explosive. I loved the Latin influences.”
As a new performer in Ruth Lilly Performance Hall, Carrillo experienced a crowd he was hoping to please.
“We didn’t have the biggest crowd tonight, yet I knew that they were an attentive audience, and we feed off of that energy of listening ears. And we really want to play something memorable, play something expressive,” Carrillo said.
“We want to keep surprising them.”
UIndy’s Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Chamber Orchestra will perform in Ruth Lilly Performance Hall on
Wednesday, April 28, at 7:30 p.m.