El Taller Latino Americano

Event Calendar

Valerie Naranjo and Barry Olsen: Benefit for El Taller

Valerie Naranjo and Barry Olsen return to El Taller bringing the intricate rhythms of Africa in what promises to be an unforgettable performance. 

St. Anne's (of Brooklyn) Gyil Monsters, a second grade gyil ensemble will be opening the concert. Bring your children and be inspired, and rejuvenated.  

The gyil is a West African marimba. Its special sound is believed, in its culture, to carry a vibration which restores and maintains health and balance. The wood that forms the gyil's keyboard is gleaned from the former homes of the "kontombe", the spirit keepers of beauty and good. Permission to master the instrument is granted to few. The music is unbelievably complicated, yet tuneful, soulful, danceable,and simple in its essence. The gyil and drums gangaa and kuar's most important functions are to diagnose and treat illness and to transport the soul of a deceased from this world to the next. 

Valerie Naranjo has been the house band Percussionist for "Night Live" for over 16 years as well as performing in Broadway's The Lion King, and with The Philip Glass Ensemble. She is a descendent of the Ute Native American Nation and hails from Colorado, where she credits her mother, Pauline for suggesting she study drumming at an early age. 

Known for her pioneering efforts in West African keyboard percussion, Valerie studied for 15 years with Maestro Kakraba Lobi (master of the gyil - West African solo marimba) from Ghana, has been featured with him on CNN, and has toured and recorded 4 CDs with him and Barry Olsen.  

Barry Olsen began his career in the late 70's playing trombone in New York's Latin dance music scene. He has recorded and performed all over the world including Paul Simon, Tito Puente, David Byrne, Celia Cruz, and Marc Anthony. 

Barry is the pianist for the Latin-Jazz group Syotos and is featured on their 5 recordings. On marimba and percussion he is frequently heard in the orchestra of the hit Broadway musical "The Lion King." 

Barry starte performing Lobi and Dagara music from northern Ghana in 1988, playing the drums known as kuar and gangaa, which accompany the gyil. 

The proceeds from the concert will benefit programming at El Taller Latino Americano.