valerie dee naranjo

as part of the 2003 vancouver international jazz festival we attended valerie dee naranjo and drum heat out at capilano college. sal ferreras, who heads the local group drum heat, looks like an intense guy, with incredible concentration while playing. valerie is even more intense. her day job is as lead percussionist and arranger with the saturday night orchestra. she is a highly professional musician, which comes through in every motion she makes on the stage. she is almost scary. the other musicians seem to tremble under her gaze, as though one missed note will lead to some kind of punishment.

i think it’s probably the level she plays at that intimidates. a highly proficient performer, this night she played the gyil (african parent of the marimba) and the marimba. the gyil has incredible reverb, a peculiarity that sounds to have been ironed out in the evolution of the marimba.

one of the most remarkable things of the evening was the amazingly annoying man behind us that insisted on gabbing on about music theory, world music, and a thousand other things he professed to be an expert on. he sounded like a semi-intelligent arrogant knob. why do people have to go to events and talk about nothing but their shallow knowledge of the event at hand? if they must make small talk can’t they do it about something else? and why am i so smug as to get annoyed over other people’s stupidity?

the main thing was valerie and her gyil playing, though. and sal playing a wooden box. and the other fellow playing various hand drums. good stuff.