Dr. Guthrie Ramsey, leader
of Dr. Guy’s MusiQologY, combined his keyboard talent,
love of music and knowledge of black music culture to give
a series of lessons on music Montevideo won’t soon
Dr. Ramsey, a professor of music at the
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia), performed with
his band at the Alianza Theatre Wednesday night (March 24)
and participated in a jam session at AGADU on Thursday night
(March 25), where he was joined by Ruben Rada, Uruguay’s
premier musician. On Friday he headed to Maldonado to perform
at the Casa de la Cultura.
Dr. Ramsey also conducted workshops and
discussed his music at CE.CU.PI and Mundo Afro, two Afro-Uruguayan
institutions in Montevideo.
The high-energy group, which puts an original twist on popular
American music, was brought to Uruguay as part of a cultural
program of the U.S. Embassy, Montevideo. Members include
Dr. Guthrie Ramsey, keyboards, Clifton Kellum, bass, Justin
Flynn, saxophone, Joe Breidenstine, trumpet, Joseph Battaglia,
guitar, and Lucky Thomson, drums.
The concerts also were sponsored by the municipality of
Maldonado, the Alianza Cultural Uruguay-US, The Center for
Peace and Integration and Mundo Afro organizations.
Dr. Guthrie Ramsey was given a warm welcome
at the Centro Cultural por la Paz y Integracion on Tuesday
March 22 when he was greeted by sixty Uruguayan music lovers
who came out to listen to him lecture on musicology and
perform with members from his group, Dr. Guy’s MusiQologY.
In his lecture, Dr. Ramsey discussed his
book, “Race Music: From Be-Bop to Hip-Hop.”
He explained that music has different meanings for different
audiences. “The most powerful thing about music is
that it is culture and it is learned. It is not in one’s
DNA but rather is a set of practices learned and passed
on from generation to generation” Dr. Ramsey explained
to the audience. “What’s interesting about culture
is it can fuse with another culture and with music this
is the case as well.” Examples Dr. Ramsey pointed
out included the fusion of rhythms and blues and latin rhythm
Dr. Ramsey gave a brief explanation about
the techniques used in jazz to create the unique blend in
sound. He then followed by demonstrating jazz beats as he
played keyboard and had the trumpet and sax players join
in blending different beats. “Musicians of jazz are
supposed to present musical personality that only belongs
to them,” Dr. Ramsey stated as his sax player, Justin
Flynn and trumpet player, Joe Breidenstine each gave solo
performances sharing a bit of their personalities with the
After the lecture and performance, the evening
continued as Uruguayans gave Dr. Ramsey and his band a taste
of Uruguayan culture by performing candombe, dancing tango,
playing the badalion and singing. It was a cultural exchange
between the Uruguayans and Americans that left both groups
energized and excited about the upcoming events in the visit.
At the Alianza Theatre, Dr. Ramsey introduced
some of his original works.
“Lincoln Drive,” Dr. Ramsey
said, “was written about a street that runs along
the river in Philadelphia. That street reminds me of La
Bass player Cliff Kellum dazzled the audience
with a solo in one of Ramsey’s original pieces written
for him, “Cliff Hanger” and Lucky Thomson delighted
the audience when he ended his solo in "Lucky's Seven"
with a Candombe beat. Later in the evening Dr. Ramsey called
“local jazz hero” Oliver Griffith, Political
Officer at the U.S. Embassy, to the stage to play his saxophone
with the band.
Dr. Ramsey closed the concert by saying,
“I must say I am so grateful to be in your beautiful
country. I have had the time of my life. I’ve met
many new friends in this country and I hope that these connections
continue for many years.”
At the lecture at Mundo Afro Thursday (March
25), Dr. Ramsey discussed his background and answered questions
from the crowd of about 75 people.
“I was poor and black and I didn’t
own a piano until I was 15,” he said. “So I
looked for other families that had pianos so that I could
Later, after earning a degree to teach music,
he said he “started looking into the history of music
instead of just at the music itself.”
Ramsey said, “It’s my belief
that from knowing our history, we can improve our futures.
Our histories are embedded in music. We need to make people
understand that although black people aren’t powerful
politically or economically in the U.S., culturally we are
After an audience member asked how he felt
about the commercialization of black music, Dr. Ramsey responded:
“I understand there are some groups who have reservations
about the commercialism of Candombe. But think about it.
If not for the great capitalism of the US, soul music wouldn’t
be heard around the world…Commercializing the music
is not a sell out. We create it, sell it and then create
more and more and more."
On keyboard, Dr. Ramsey demonstrated versions
of gospel music played at black churches in the U.S. Then
musicians from Mundo Afro took turns on the stage to entertain
Dr. Ramsey with Candombe and blues music. The event ended
as a dance party.
Thursday night at AGADU, Dr. Guy’s
MusiQology gave a more informal performance, which was attended
by Ambassador and Mrs. Silverstein.
Dr. Ramsey played a baby grand piano instead
of keyboards. Giving each musician a turn in the spotlight,
he demonstrated how each member of the band played an integral
part in the whole sound.
“What we’ll learn tonight is
that we have many commonalities although we don’t
speak the same language,” he told the audience.
After several songs, Ramsey introduced Ruben
Rada, who, with his band, played several popular numbers
for the crowd.
“Thank you for coming to Uruguay,”
Rada told MusiQologY members. “I hope you enjoy the
music. The music is fantastic.”
Later some musicians from the audience
went onstage to participate in an impromptu jam session
to close the show.
|Singer Ruben Rada (back, right) and
his group of Candombe drummers greet Dr. Guy's MusiQology
at the airport.
||Rada drums a welcome to
|Dr. Guthrie Ramsey (center, front) poses
with his band, Public Affairs Officer Brian Penn and
Beatriz Sangos of CE.CU.PI, an Afro-Uruguayan organization.
||Dr. Ramsey speaks about
music at CE.CU.PI.
|Dr. Ramsey joins MusiQology
||Audience at the Alianza Theatre enjoys
|Political Officer Oliver Griffith, center,
joins Justin Flynn, saxophone and Joe Breidenstine,
||Dr. Ramsey signs autographs
after the concert.
|Dr. Ramsey jams with bass player at
||Dr. Ramsey answers a question from the
audience by demonstrating his music.
|Dr. Ramsey is entertained by musicians
at Mundo Afro.
||Mundo Afro musicians.
|Members of Dr. Guy's MusiQology jamming.
|Dr. Ramsey speaks about his music at
||Dr. Ramsey introduces Ruben Rada.
|Ambassador Martin J. Silverstein and
his wife, Audrey, enjoy the concert.
||Rada performs at AGADU.
|CE.CU.PI.'s Beatriz Santos joins Dr.
Ramsey on stage during the jam session at AGADU.
||Dr. Guy's MusiQology poses with Ambassador
and Mrs. Silverstein.
|Dr. Guy's MusiQology on the beach in
Punta del Este
||MusiQology in the Casa de la Cultura
|Bandmembers Justin Flynn
and Joe Breidenstine with fans.
||Dr. Ramsey signs another