Latin band just wants to make you dance

Music group has traded hands, faced disbanding but perseveres with passion for Hispanic tradition



Music professor Alexander Horace Young helped create "Songwriters' Roundtable." In the picture, he leads WSU’s latin band, Con Alma, on Sept. 16, 2019.

MADDY BEAN, Evergreen reporter

Latin Jazz Band is one of WSU’s many specialized bands, and it is one with a long history. After scares of disbanding, it has been saved this year by saxophonist, flute player and WSU music professor Horace Alexander Young.

Young originally formed the Latin Jazz Band at WSU during his time teaching from 1998-2008, under the previous name “Con Alma,” he said.

After Young left, the band hopped from the hands of clinical assistant professor Brian Ward and ultimately to a graduate student of Young’s. Originally from Cuba, the student brought an authentic vibe to the band before he graduated last year, Young said.

Of the 12 people in the band, six are new. Young said he is excited to see what will come of it.

“With the musicians I hear, and more than that, the people who are involved, I knew we’d have a really good group,” he said.

Young also wants to pass down the legacy from his mentors to his new students. He has given them pieces from his old mentor, George Duke.

“I found myself doing the rehearsal, and seeing George’s energy, and feeling his spirit,” Young said. “So, hearing these students play a piece of music that has such a strong personal and home connection to me is really special.”

Gabriella Aragon and Alex Lowe, both music majors, have been the longest-playing members in the band this year. This will be Aragon’s fourth year and Lowe’s fifth.

Lowe, who absolutely loved the band, was going to make the band a club if Horace hadn’t stepped in to pick it up.

“I just really fell in love with the music,” said Lowe. “I’m from a big Hispanic area, and it just really helped me get into it a lot more.”

For Aragon, this band has personal ties to heritage.

“I’m Hispanic, so I grew up hearing a lot of this type of music,” she said. “I feel like it’s the heartbeat of the world. There’s a kind of energy that happens when you play, bringing us into it.”

The Latin Jazz Band has played in many different performances, from Rico’s Pub shows, to huge productions at teacher conferences in Washington, D.C. But they just want people to feel their music, Aragon said.

“Our purpose is to make people dance,” she said.