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TO JAN. 18, 2003
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Though Latin jazz more or less came from New York City, it’s still largely regarded as a foreign commodity within the United States. On Oct. 17, the Smithsonian Institution unveiled its bilingual 11-city traveling exhibition, “Latin Jazz: La Combinacion Perfecta,” which aims to debunk that misconception. Produced by America’s Jazz Heritage and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, the exhibition explores the breadth of the music for which it is named while tracing its Afro-Caribbean roots and evolution throughout the United States. Through the use of rare film footage, photographs, indigenous Afro-Cuban instruments—such as the tres and the five-key flute—and oral histories from veterans such as congueros Mongo Santamaria and Candido, “Latin Jazz” reveals how various Cuban expatriates helped shape the music of Duke Ellington and Sidney Bechet well before legendary percussionist Chano Pozo mixed it up with Dizzy Gillespie in the ’40s. “Latin jazz is as much a part of the American experience as Louis Armstrong, Jimi Hendrix, and hiphop,” says drummer and educator Bobby Sanabria, who produced instructional films for the exhibition. “I hope people come from the exhibition not saying, ‘Oh, I learned a lot about Latin jazz,’ but ‘Wow, I learned a lot about myself.’” The exhibition is on view from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily to Saturday, Jan. 18, 2003, at the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building, 900 Jefferson Drive SW. Free. (202) 357-2700. (John Murph)