From Columbus, Ohio, to Santa Barbara, the jazz group Charged Particles has traveled thousands of miles to play at jazz gigs around the country. New York. Washington, D.C. Boston. Cleveland. Phoenix. Minneapolis. But on Friday, Aug. 4, it’s playing at a more intimate setting — Ventura’s Copa Cubana Restaurant.
Not that the group is unfamiliar with Ventura. The city, with its burgeoning reputation for music and jazz, is a regular destination for jazz bands, including Charged Particles itself, which recently appeared at Squashed Grapes. What’s different here is that the Cuban-themed restaurant located at the Ventura Harbor fits perfectly with what band leader and drummer Jon Krosnick called its “funky Latin jazz.”
Charged Particles originated out of Columbus, Ohio, 25 years ago. Krosnick noted that both the city and the state were great places to front a band. “There were concerts being sponsored, bars and clubs that had jazz, and there was just an appetite statewide for the arts,” he recalled. As a result, the band thrived.
When Krosnick moved from Ohio State University to Stanford in 2011 to continue teaching psychology and political science, he had to start the band from scratch. Not surprisingly, the group has gone through several lineups. Currently, CP features Krosnick on drums, Murray Low on keyboard and Aaron Germain on bass.
Moving to California meant incorporating different sounds into the band’s repertoire. Both Low and Germain are composers, so CP is playing more original music. The group has also featured French Vietnamese guitarist Nguyen Le, vocalists Kevyn Lettau and Rocio Guitard and Bay Area saxophonist Tod Dickow.
Most recently, they have teamed up with Bay Area reed player Paul McCandless, with whom they will do an upcoming two-month tour to Indonesia. They’re also doing tributes for recently deceased saxophonist Michael Brecker.
The group’s name comes from a Chick Corea song. “It fits perfectly because we’re a high-energy group,” said Krosnick, “and if you think of us as particles bouncing off each other musically, it really captures the energy and fun of what we’re doing.”
It also fits well with the improvised nature of the group. “When we bring in new instruments and new compositions,” said Krosnick, “it just makes it more interesting. It’s like trying a new type of food.”
Krosnick insists that all this variety keeps the music lively. Charged Particles, true to its name, thrives on adding unique sounds to its jazz compositions. “For example, we got an inquiry from an Indian sitar player who said he was interested in exploring the possibility of blending traditional Indian sitar music with jazz,” he noted. “That’s a great example of how you bring one person in and it takes us in a new direction. It absolutely keeps the music fresh.”
While Charged Particles is all about variety, Latin jazz is its specialty. For that reason, being scheduled to play at the Copa Cubana is a highlight. “The Copa Cubana has that tradition of emphasizing Latin music,” Krosnick explained. “So we’ve got some salsa music, samba music, Cuban and South American styles of rhythmic backgrounds and patterns. That’s going to be a big dose of what we do.”
Asked what he would tell someone who might be passing by the Copa on a warm August evening, Krosnick answered enthusiastically: “Listen. If you want to come and have an interesting evening that both rhythmically and musically is going to be easy to enjoy but intellectually interesting, then come on in. It’s not music that puts you to sleep. It’s music that challenges your thinking as well as getting your toes tapping. If you like that, then we are for you.”
Charged Particles will appear on Friday, Aug. 4, 7-10 p.m. at Copa Cubana Restaurant, 1575 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura Harbor. For more information on the venue, call 642-9463 or visit www.thecopacubana.com. For more on Charged Particles, visit www.chargedparticles.com.