Cristina Pato Quartet brings the sound of ‘Latina’ to UCSB Campbell Hall

Galician bagpiper Cristina Pato and her band will perform music from her new album, "Latina." Xan Padron photo
Galician bagpiper Cristina Pato and her band will perform music from her new album, “Latina.”
Xan Padron photo

Music fans who attended Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble appearance at Campbell Hall in 2013 may remember Cristina Pato, the musician who stole the show with the gaita, a very particular kind of Spanish bagpipe that sounds less like the Scottish variety and more like an oboe. The artist returns two years later with her own band this Wednesday night, and brings a selection of tunes that explores the Galician region of Spain, her home country, and then moves out in ever increasing circles to encompass a world of influences.

Her new album is called “Latina” (released Thursday on Sunnyside Records), a musing on the history and the multiple meanings of the word by way of musical genres. (Don’t worry, the CD will be available at the show.)

“When I am in Spain they call me Galician,” she says. “And when I am in Europe they call me Spanish. But ever since I come to the United States a lot of the time I am referred to as Latina. It’s been a fascinating journey to understand what exactly is the meaning of the word. So this is my way to do something positive with the word.”

A lot of the music she plays is written in 6/8 time, which can be traced back to the Italian tarantella, then out through Spain to Venezuela with its joropo, the Peruvian landÛ, and onward to the Latin tanguillo and fandango.

“The album is a way of rebuilding and reconnecting my roots,” she says. “The album is a story of migration and cultural identity.”

Ms. Pato started playing the gaita at age four, which is not surprising in the town where she grew up, which can count nearly a tenth of its population as gaita players. However, the instrument and the people were originally seen as a bit lower class in her native Spain for many years, until she and several others began to combine gaita with pop music. She helped take modern gaita to the top of the charts.

“It is the voice of our cultural identity,” she says. But to go beyond the Galician norm, she had to take the instrument into a different realm, and hence this tour.

However, Ms. Pato has been in the States for some time. She moved to New York when she decided to pursue a doctorate in classical piano as there was nothing for her instrument.

“It’s like having two personalities,” she says. “Yo-Yo Ma helped connect those two sides of myself . . . The free improviser of the bagpiper adds to the classical pianist.”

The band she brings to Santa Barbara features Eric Doob on the drums, Edward Perez on bass and Victor Prieto on accordion.

The whole idea of “Latina” can be traced back to Mr. Perez and Ms. Pato jamming together. She thought she was playing a Galician number. He thought he was playing a joropo. From that conversation a whole journey was born.

Mr. Perez arranged most of the numbers on the album, while Mr. Prieto is “a ball of energy” on the accordion. And “Eric is the most dynamic player I’ve ever met. He is a jazz drummer who speaks with perfect diction the whole time.

“If I mention Latin music to most people they will think of Cuban music or merengue,” she says. “But I wanted to focus on the rest of the Latin world.”

So Ms. Pato will accept “Latina” as a descriptor, because it contains multitudes. As she says: “It’s not what the word puts on you, but what you put on the word.”

Cristina Pato Quartet
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
Where: UCSB Campbell Hall
Cost: $10-$25
Information: (805) 893-3535, www.artsandlectures.ucsb.edu

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