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Wed, Mar 08


Merrimans' Playhouse

Tito Carrillo & Urbanessence

Carrillo seeks to merge black music of the three Americas in his own music, blurring the lines between Afro-Caribbean rhythmic styles, soul, funk, and modern jazz.

Registration is Closed due to COVID. ALL cancelled concerts will be rescheduled.
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 Tito Carrillo & Urbanessence
 Tito Carrillo & Urbanessence

Time & Location

Mar 08, 2023, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM

Merrimans' Playhouse, 401 E Colfax Ave, Suite 135, South Bend, IN 46617, USA


About the Event

TICKETS are $10 General/$5 Student.

Concerts and events made possible, in part, with support from the Wells Philanthropic Services provided by grants from the John, Anna, and Martha Jane Fields Memorial Trust Foundation, Stanley A. and Flora P. Clark Memorial Community Trust Foundation, and the Florence V. Carroll Charitable Trust, The Esther and George Jaruga Charitable Foundation, the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County's ArtsEverywhere initiative, and the Arts Project Support Grant and Arts Recovery Grant through the Indiana Arts Commission. Concert support provided by the Arts Midwest Grow, Invest, Gather (GIG) Fund grant (2022-2023 season).

URBANESSENCE is both the name of the band and the title of the second solo album of dynamic trumpet artist Tito Carrillo, a 25+ year veteran of Chicago’s vibrant jazz and Latin music scene. He contributes nine indelible originals to the album’s eleven tracks, and the music reflects his ongoing expansion on his Latin and BAM roots, both of which share a common ancestor — Africa. Nicholas Payton coined the phrase #BAM as an acronym for Black American Music. Carrillo seeks to merge black music of the three Americas in his own music, blurring the lines between Afro-Caribbean rhythmic styles, soul, funk, and modern jazz.

Tito Carrillo - trumpet & flugelhorn 

Troy Roberts - tenor & soprano saxophones  

Ben Lewis - piano 

Clark Sommers - bass Jay 

Sawyer - drums 

Victor Gonzalez, Jr. - congas

For this project, Carrillo assembled a powerhouse ensemble consisting of both NewYork and Chicago cohorts. Troy Roberts joins the front line on saxophones and brings from NYC his muscular tone and rhythmic intensity, while blending effortlessly with Carrillo’s flugelhorn on the album’s softer gems. Ben Lewis plays piano with imaginative flair, and in addition to his explosive solos, is a willing accompanist with sensitivity and daring curiosity. Clark Sommers brings his veteran presence on the bass, with his full-bodied wooden tone, and his ability to play each note with extreme care and attention. Drummer Jay Sawyer met Carrillo as a student at the University of Illinois where Carrillo is a professor and is now an established presence in NYC and on the international touring scene. His skill, groove, and creative imagination give the music the freedom to wade freely between modern swing, bomba sicá, and NYC underground jazz/hip-hop beats. And Victor Gonzalez Jr. is one of the top Latin percussionists in Chicago and an artist who handles the groove shifts and odd meters on these compositions with immense adaptability and imagination.

Tito Carrillo, trumpet, composer, bandleader, is a native of Austin, TX, born of a Puerto Rican father and Mexican American mother, and his music blurs the lines between Afro-Caribbean music traditions and modern jazz. He manages to meld such influences as Freddie Hubbard, Miles Davis, and Woody Shaw with many rhythmic styles from the Afro-Latin diaspora, inspired to do so by artists such as Miguel Zenón, Danilo Pérez, and David Sanchez. Carrillo came to prominence in the mid 90’s in Chicago’s rich jazz and Latin music scenes, becoming a top call soloist, sideman, and bandleader. He has toured and recorded with Willie Pickens, Ryan Cohan, Kurt Elling, Juan Pastor’s Chinchano, Cuban flutist Orlando “Maraca” Valle, Quincy Jones, and Phil Collins. His critically acclaimed solo debut album Opening Statement was released on the Origin Records label in 2011. Carrillo is committed to jazz education and has been the full-time professor of jazz trumpet at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 2006.

Troy Roberts, saxophones, is originally from Perth, Australia, and the impeccable NYC saxophonist is known for his collaborations with Joey DeFrancesco, Jeff “Tain” Watts, and James Morrison. He possesses a gorgeous, full-bodied tone, jaw dropping fluidity over any style, and spontaneous development due to the fact that he’s always listening and interacting with his bandmates.

Ben Lewis, piano, Chicago-based pianist, and longtime member of the Lt. Dan Band led by actor Gary Sinise.  One of the most creative minds I know, he can play any style with imaginative flair, and yet what really lights him up is creating with other people and supporting their creative decisions. Ben is the glue in this band, and I know the music will be a unique experience every single time he’s at the piano.

Clark Sommers, bass, is one of the most in-demand bassists in Chicago and beyond. You can hear his stellar work on most of Kurt Elling’s projects over the last 10+ years, and he’s now emerging as a dynamic composer with several solo albums out and a new large ensemble recording of original works due out soon. One of the sweetest bass sounds on the planet, every note is played with extreme care, intention, and with perfect intonation and groove.

Jay Sawyer, drums, a 10-year vet of NYC, whom I first met when he was a grad student at the University of Illinois where I teach. We share so much in common, from music to sports to personality, and I knew I wanted him on this project. His skill, groove, and creative imagination gave this music the freedom to wade freely between modern swing, bomba sicá, and NY underground jazz hip hop beats.

Victor Gonzalez, Jr., Latin percussion, is a native of Chicago but with that Puerto Rican soul released by every strike of the cuero. Not just one of the greatest congueros on the scene, but a truly deep and flexible musician who is able to adapt and add just the right mix for whatever the music is calling for.


  • General

    $10 Advanced or Door

    Sale ended
  • Student

    $5 Student/Discount

    Sale ended



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