Considering the absolutely terrible weather, this year’s Soul of the Caribbean concert, part of the Roots and Reason Music Series and presented by the Africana Studies program, had an excellent turnout.

Comprised of the Bob Marley Ensemble, the Afro-Cuban Ensemble, and the Steel Pan Ensemble, this show was quite the contrast to the weather outside.

The Cuban ensemble, led by Ricardo Monzon, was an incredibly large group positively bursting with talent.  The catchy grooves were impossible to resist, and the crowd immediately began to bob their heads with the music.  What a high-energy group!

The Steel Pan Ensemble, led by Ron Reid, was truly a surprise.  For those who don’t already know, a steel pan is a chromatic, pitched percussion instrument usually made from a 55-gallon drum typically used to store oil, and is struck by rubber-tipped sticks to create the sound.  It is traditionally heard in the music of Trinidad and Tobago.  These guys were great!  I’m sure that many at Berklee have never even heard this ensemble play.  The soloists, as well as guest vocals from Mr. Nyol Manswell were equally impressive.

Last but not least was the Bob Marley Ensemble, led by Matt Jenson.  The 15-person ensemble instantly turned the night around into a completely different vibe.  This ensemble is a little bit different from the rest, because it is a 2-hour a week course.  For the first hour, teacher Matt Jenson lectures about the life of Bob Marley, and then instructs the ensemble on his music.  Every facet of this ensemble was together, and the resulting sound was spectacular.

Next year, make sure to mark your calendars for this show, as well as the entire series.  We have a lot of talent at Berklee, but we often forget about the incredible world music scene we are surrounded by.  Don’t miss out next time!

Poster for the show