Forbidden Tropics at Jersey Jazz LIVE!

May 24, 2024

The Forbidden Tropics band, led by Perth Amboy-based guitarist Alejandro Ataucusi, blends Afro-Peruvian rhythms with harmonic elements of jazz. The Afro-Peruvian styles developed from the music of the African slaves brought by the Spanish to Peru during the 17th century. The band will be bringing its festive music to the Madison, NJ, Community Arts Center on Sunday, June 9, as part of the New Jersey Jazz Society’s Jersey Jazz LIVE! series.

Among the styles played by Forbidden Tropics are:

  • Festejo, which in Spanish means “celebration”, and is the most buoyant of the Afro-Peruvian styles.
  • Lando, said to have been handed down from the bantu slaves who came from Angola. In contrast to the lively Festejo style, Landó is often performed in a minor key at a slower tempo.
  • Panalivio, originally sung by the slaves while working in the fields. It was brought over by the Spanish colonizers to Argentina, Cuba, and Uruguay and was a forerunner to tango dance music.

Peruvian Rhapsody, Forbidden Tropics’ latest album, was released in 2022 on all streaming platforms. The band was a headliner at last year’s Middlesex County Jazz Festival, performing in Perth Amboy. Recent appearances have been at William Paterson University’s Midday Concert and at the New Brunswick Jazz Project’s Tavern on George. Last summer, Forbidden Tropics performed on alternate Friday nights from June through September on the Madison Community Arts Project’s Rose Pavilion outdoor stage.

Ataucusi is a William Paterson graduate and a member of the WPU Latin Jazz Ensemble. He has played with such Latin jazz luminaries as trumpeters Claudio Roditi and Ray Vega and percussionist Jose Madera. Members of the band (from left in photo above) are:  bassist James Nascimento,  keyboardist Robbie Sko, Ataucusi, drummer Mike Dick, and drummer/percussionist David Greiff.

Forbidden Tropics will be preceded by a Rising Star quartet led by Tinton Falls, NJ, guitarist Alexander Rausch, a member of the Case Western Reserve University Jazz Ensemble and Ellipses Jazz Combo. At age 11, Rausch began studying at Red Bank’s Jazz Arts Project where he was mentored by such artists as pianist Brandon McCune, drummer Winard Harper, and bassist Gary Mazzaroppi. He founded the first jazz band at Freehold’s Biotechnology High School and was a member of the New Jersey Association of Jazz Educators’ All-State and All-Region Jazz Ensembles. He was also a participant in the New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s Jazz for Teens program and was selected as a member of the Art Blakey Ensemble and the James Moody and George Wein Scholars Ensembles. A biochemistry major at CWRU, he plans to pursue a career in the medical field while continuing to be an active member of the jazz community.

The other members of Rausch’s quartet are: drummer Alex Kavlakian, a senior at Rahway High School; pianist Ben Peters, a freshman at Rutgers; and bassist Damien Dudek from Pompton Lakes, who is part of the NJPAC Jazz for Teens program.

The Madison Community Arts Center is located at 10 Kings Road in Madison, NJ. The Jersey Jazz LIVE! concerts begin at 3 p.m. Admission will be $10 for NJJS members and $15 for non-members. Student admission is $5 with valid ID.  There will be light refreshments for purchase. To order tickets in advance, log onto

Funding for Jersey Jazz Live! has been made possible, in part, by funds from Morris Arts through the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of The National Endowment for the Arts. This program is also proudly supported by a grant from The Summit Foundation


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