From farm to music hall, Latin percussionist finds rhythm everywhere

Apr 18, 2022

When Jesús Andujar first started jamming with friends in the Dominican Republic where he grew up, he had no idea where his love for music would take him.

In 1979, at the age of 19, he was invited to join a band as a percussionist. His travels took him to Providence in 1982, and he liked it and decided to stay. He’s had a home there ever since.

Over the years, Andujar has had the opportunity to tour the world with different musical groups. He also formed his own band, Grupo Sazon, in 2003.

The band has consistently played together and put on workshops around New England. Andujar also works part-time as a refrigeration and heating technician.

With a few of the percussionists from his band, Andujar will host a Latin percussion concert from 7 to 8 p.m. Friday, May 6 at the Marion Art Center as part of the SouthCoast Spring Arts festival. Andujar won’t just perform, he will also invite concertgoers to join in on the rhythm.

“It can be a little bit interactive,” said Andujar. “I like to involve people. I share some drums, see if people like to join us and make a little jam with the people that are there.”

He says the concert is for anyone who is curious about Latin music, and that the show will be all about music from the Caribbean.

“My inspiration comes from the culture of where I grew up,” Andujar said. He explained that when he started playing music, he was able to relate it to the work he did on his family’s farm in the Dominican Republic.

“We used to do what is called a ‘convite’,” Andujar explained. “All the farmers in the community would get together to work on one farm.” There was a day for different farms, so they would all help each other out.

Andujar said that when they would harvest something like rice together in big groups, they had to have a rhythm to keep time with others, and this is where he first learned to keep a steady tempo.

After that, Andujar said, music became a way of life. He explained that it is meaningful to him to continue to put on these performances for people in the New England area.

“It’s been many years since I first started playing music, but I still love to play,” Andujar says. “I still practice all the time, because music is my life. I live for it.”