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7 marimbas, heavenly rhythms

The Syracuse-based Kambuyu Marimba Ensemble will perform a tune titled "Jabberwocky" at the Westcott Community Center this Saturday evening.

Composed by the ensemble's mentor, Stan Sitnik, the number cleverly syncopates the group's seven marimbas while simultaneously paying tribute to author Lewis Carroll and a legendary Syracuse University music venue.

Admission is an attractively low $5 for the ensemble's show at 8 p.m. Saturday Nov. 13, at the Westcott Center, 826 Euclid Ave., on the city's East Side; 478-8634.

Scintillating rhythmsThe Kambuyu Marimba Ensemble makes music unlike any other combo in Central New York. From the deep, natural resonating tones of the bass and baritone marimbas, to the scintillating rhythms and melodic interplay of the sopranos and tenors, the group entertains with an unusual musical experience sure to delight any audience. Kambuyu's percussive music is happy and infectious.

The ensemble includes seven marimbas: three sopranos, two tenors, one baritone and one bass. In most songs, one of the sopranos plays the melody while the other instruments provide intricate counter-rhythms and chords. They often accompany their hand-built marimbas with hosho gourd rattles and drums.

Typically taught through the oral tradition, Kambuyu's music is influenced by traditional Shona mbira (thumb piano) melodies and by modern compositions, such as "Jabberwocky," written in the traditional spirit. This music was brought to the United States during the 1960s by the Kwanongoma College of Music in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

Mesmerizing malletsThe group's name, "Kambuyu," - a Shona word for "insects" - was inspired by the instruments' mallets, which resemble insect antennae.

Kambuyu Marimba has been playing together since the winter of 2004. Members include educators, scientists, nurses and business people. They have entertained audiences at the Westcott Street Cultural Fair, the Downtown Arts & Crafts Fair, the annual Amberations Fall Festival in Marietta and many other venues throughout the area.

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