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The Latin Jazz Quartet

Diversity is a must for musicians working in a local market. "Being able to play different styles of music and being able to improvise is important," says guitarist Ed Dunsavage.

Dunsavage is a member of the Latin Jazz Quartet. The quartet performs regularly at the Standing Stone Brewing Co. and other venues in Ashland.

"We play Brazilian jazz, blues and bebop," Dunsavage says. "We like to mix up music from Latin composers such as Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luiz Bonfa with straight-ahead jazz and blues."

Larry Cavalier on vibes, Chicken Hirsch on drums and Jim Calhoun on bass round out the quartet. Cavalier's background includes a 10-year stint in Maui, Hawaii, where he performed with Martin Denny and his orchestra, who scored a minor hit with its cover of "A Taste of Honey" by songwriters Bobby Scott and Ric Marlow.

Hirsch was a drummer for Country Joe McDonald and the Fish back in the '60s.

"He played the Monterrey Pop Festival in 1968," Dunsavage says. "That was the year that the pop festival turned more toward rock music. It featured The Who, The Mamas and The Papas, and it was when Jimi Hendrix was introduced to American audiences.

"Hirsch is a rock 'n' roll celebrity, and he's lived in Ashland for about 30 years."

Bassist Calhoun plays with local bluegrass band Siskiyou Summit.

"Everybody plays a little bit of everything around here," Dunsavage says. Dunsavage himself used to play a lot more rock and blues. He also plays classical music, but these days he sticks to jazz.

"Jazz is my favorite, and I'm a big fan of Brazilian and world music," he says.

Dunsavage has been artistic director of the Siskiyou Institute, a nonprofit arts and education organization, since 2003.

"I enjoy bringing talented artists into Southern Oregon from all over the country and introducing them to audiences," he says.

One of the highlights for Dunsavage was the concert presented by the group, Oregon, last year by the institute.

"Oregon is an international chamber jazz ensemble, and it was our largest concert so far," Dunsavage says. Most of the institute's shows are held at a small venue in Ashland, known as the Old Siskiyou Barn. For the Oregon show, the institute collaborated with Ashland High School and Southern Oregon University.

"We presented the group to about 400 people in the Mountain Avenue Theatre at the high school, then the musicians in the group taught master classes at SOU that were open to all students.

"The institute's focus is to present great music and education," Dunsavage says. "Most of the artists that we book have teaching skills."

The Latin Jazz Quartet plays from 2 to 4 p.m. on the second Sunday of every month through September.

"We just keep coming up with new material. It's all part of the jazz tradition," Dunsavage says. "We bring different music in every time we play and keep it fresh."

There's no cover for the quartet's shows on the outdoor patio at Standing Stone. Call 482-2448.

Ed Dunsavage is a local guitarist and artistic director of the Siskiyou Institute. - Photo courtesy of Ed Dunsavage