Trombonist and composer William Cepeda (right) addressing the ensemble class of vibraphonist and composer Victor Mendoza (left), as drummer Patrick Cleland looks on, at Berklee College of Music’s Valencia Campus.
VALENCIA, Spain. Perhaps because we live in a world of increasingly shorter news cycles tailored to our increasingly shorter attention span, after a few days we move on from catastrophes such as Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico following the next bright shiny object. The people dealing with the aftermath of such disasters can’t.
Reality is funny that way.
Trombonist and composer William Cepeda, 53, one of the most influential Puerto Rican jazz musicians of his generation, is living off a suitcase these days. He spent last week in residence at the Valencia Campus of Berklee College of Music, lecturing, conducting workshops, and teaching private lessons.
Like so many others who have left the island, Cepeda, who lost his job of seven years at the University of Puerto Rico, is looking elsewhere for a fresh start. “I mean, I love Puerto Rico,” he told me in a conversation between classes. “But my partner, she’s unemployed too, and there’s no work, so we are looking for a place where we can settle for a while.”