Music

Loja is the musical capital and an important cultural center of Ecuador. The motto here in Loja is:

The one who does not play the guitar can sing a song; the one who does not sing a song can write a verse; the one who does not write a verse reads a book.

Although I have always enjoyed classical music as a result of my playing the clarinet in the Junior and Senior High school orchestras, my go to music is jazz. Since college, I have been a devoted fan of the genre. I remember those mystic nights of listening to John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Wes Montgomery, and many others. I had visions of Spain compliments of Miles long before I ever set foot on Spanish soil. Whenever I had some extra money, that in itself is an oxymoron, I would head to the music shop in downtown New Brunswick to purchase a new album. The were called record albums in those days before the advent of CD’s and cassettes. They were thirty-three and a third long playing vinyl disc protected in a twelve by twelve inch cardboard case containing a cover photo and liner notes listing the contributors to the music and other pertinent information. These were my treasures.

Mom “lent” me her record player so I would have something to play my albums on which I gave back to her as soon as I made enough money from Summer jobs to purchase my first component set. In those days component sets were the vogue. Anyone who could afford one, had one. Music permeated the dorms the way the wind scattered the leaves of the maple and oak trees throughout the campus along the Raritan river. My first component was a Pioneer 30 watt amp/receiver which I used for over thirty years before passing it on to a friend when it was too heavy to move with me to Canada. I was flying, else I would most likely still have it.

Although my music taste have broadened since those days, I still love jazz. Today, however, I lean more toward Latin jazz and Latin music in general. Loja, where I live, is the music capital of Ecuador and no matter where I go in the city I can always hear music playing from the windows of residents or the open doors of shop owners. Unlike American jazz which was “cool and mellow,” Latin jazz is “hot and rhythmic.” Listening to it makes me want to move, so unlike those mellow nights in college where I would close my eyes and transport myself to places I had not been before. Right now I am listening to Manny Oquendo and Libra on the Putumayo Presents: Latin Jazz CD. Excuse me, but I need to dance!