WSU departments bring Brazil to Kimbrough Music Building

César Haas will headline musical performance based on theme of memories, heritage



César Haas will be accompanied by Christian Kim and Austin Cebulske.


As students pass by Kimbrough Music Building on Friday evening, they might hear the sounds of a Brazilian beach in Rio de Janeiro and smell the aroma of coconut wafting from the building.

WSU School of Music and School of Food Science are collaborating on the concert: “Synesthesia: sounds and scents of Brazil.”

The performance has been in progress since spring and will take place Friday from 7:30-9 p.m., according to the event’s information page.

“I thought that that would be great having compositions with Brazilian style that represents some parts of my heritage and just my culture in general and relate that with the aromas,” said César Haas, a lecturer of jazz and classical guitar in the School of Music.

Haas is headlining the performance and created the concept for the concert with Carolyn Ross, Sensory Evaluation Facility director and professor.

“Keri McCarthy, our new director of the School of Music, she started setting up plans for the new year, and one of the topics were collaborating with units across the university, different departments, interesting collaborations and things like that,” Haas said.

He said McCarthy proposed a concert involving Ross’s aroma studies, which he found interesting. Haas is a jazz guitarist with a classical background, influenced by his Brazilian roots in both his performances and compositions. 

He said he had the repertoire for the concert and imagined each song bringing audiences to different parts of Brazil, such as a beach in Rio de Janeiro. Working with Ross, he came up with smells for each piece, including the aroma of coconut to emulate the beach feel of one of the songs.

“All the repertoire are either my original compositions, mostly based on Brazilian rhythms and Brazilian folk music, or they are jazz pieces. They are arranged using influences of Latin music, Afro-Cuban music and of course, mostly Brazilian rhythms,” Haas said.

He said that both music and scents revive memories from a person’s life, including places, songs, emotions, etc. The pieces that will be performed during the concert serve to emanate memories of regions of Brazil.

“I’m inspired by memories from music from stuff that I heard and folk groups playing. … We’re trying to make those connections with our memory and that all connects to my life, my past, my experiences,” Haas said.

Haas said Ross is developing aroma packets for the concert using small vials that are labeled for each specific piece. Between pieces, coffee beans are used to clean the audience’s senses so they can smell the next aromas.

One section of the concert hall will be designated for attendees who are allergic or do not want to experience the aromas, he said.

Christian Kim, assistant professor of music business and jazz/commercial composition, will be supporting Haas on the piano during the concert. 

He said he’ll be playing the melodic lines for one of the pieces, which is a typical bossa nova tune where pianos play two different octaves at the same time. Kim is a part of the Jazz Northwest ensemble, featuring six or seven different instruments. 

“I’m just contributing as a pianist and section player, supporting my colleague for his faculty recital,” Kim said.

The performers will be playing a total of nine songs, some of which include typical Brazilian bossa nova tunes, such as “The Girl from Ipanema,” he said.

“There are funky types, and there are bossa nova type, and there are choro, this is typical Brazilian rhythm, rhythmic pattern,” Kim said. “There are three jazz standards, and he [Haas] is going to arrange [them]  in more of Brazilian Latin music rhythm patterns.”

Austin Cebulske, saxophone, jazz big band and big band II professor, will be supporting Haas on the saxophone.

“The saxophonists that I love have all delved in that style [Brazilian bossa nova and samba] like Stan Getz, Charlie Rouse, there are a number of different saxophonists that are experts at that music, and that’s something that always resonated with me,” he said.

Cebulske said listening to bossa nova and samba pieces helped him approach such pieces for Friday’s concert. 

During the concert, he will primarily be improvising harmonies around the melody, which will be the guitar and vocals, he said. Additionally, Cebulske will have some saxophone solos during the performance.

“I’m looking forward to the collaboration. I’ve never been a part of anything that combines scent and music,“ he said.