BY JOE MARVILLI
A Queens band will represent American culture during a tour of Venezuela early next year.
The U.S. Embassy in the South American country selected Street Beat Brass Band for a tour sponsored by the U.S. State Department. The band, which has three members from Queens, will be musical ambassadors as they traverse Venezuela between Jan. 14 and 21.
Specifically, Street Beat Brass Band will visit Caracas and San Cristobal. The group will perform at the San Sebastian Cultural Festival and the members will conduct master classes for students of El Sistema, a low-income music education program that groomed L.A. Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel.
Composer-trombonist Jeff Fairbanks created the group in 2012 by handpicking several jazz musicians he had worked with as a freelancer. He said he was excited about the upcoming tour.
“I was thrilled with the opportunity to represent my country and to help build international goodwill,” he said. “The U.S. Embassy to Venezuela reached out to us about this tour. They picked us because they said we would represent American culture well, and we can march and interact with people.”
While this is the band’s first international trip, the individual members of Street Beat Brass Band have performed all over the world. Fairbanks and drummer Vin Scialla are from Sunnyside, while trumpeter Jason Wiseman lives in Astoria.
When they get to Venezuela, Street Beat Brass Band plans to perform some originals as well as brass-based tunes in the style of New Orleans jazz, polka, Mexican Banda, gospel and funk. They hope to play a couple of Venezuelan folk songs as well.
“I’m passionate about using diplomatic ‘soft power,’ such as the arts, rather than military, as a primary means for spreading U.S. influence,” Fairbanks said. “I hope our music will connect with Venezuelans on a human-to-human level, break down barriers of distrust that may exist, and perhaps win over some hearts and minds.”
If you want to see Street Beat Brass Band before they head to South America, you will have three chances to do so for free. The band will perform concerts at Choga on Dec. 12 and Jan. 6, as well as a show at Rockwood Music Hall on Jan. 2.
For more on the group, visit http://streetbeatbrass.com or www.facebook.com/streetbeatbrass.
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, email@example.com, or @JoeMarvilli.