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Keeping it classy: Graduate student records fifth jazz album, Duos


By the time he was a teenager, Carlos Barba could play most instruments. But it wasn’t until he played the piano that he discovered his passion.

“I definitely fell in love with the piano more than anything else because, to me, there is more possibilities involved,” Barba said, now a teaching assistant at UTEP and music graduate student specializing in piano.

The keys and the chords of the piano captured Barba’s ears years ago, fast forward more than a decade, and Barba has created and released his fifth album, Duos.   

Barba’s love for the piano cultivated when he began to play with different sounds and believed the sound of the piano fit into almost every style of music and could be accompanied by other instruments. He played with this theory in Duos.

“I invited different musicians to join in and make music in a duo setting with the piano and something else,” Barba said.

Barba merged the sound of the piano in several songs with different accompaniments, including a female singer, guitarist, bassist and a saxophonist. The musicians featured in Duos include a UTEP professor, UTEP students and a few UTEP alumni.

At the dawn of his career, Barba partnered with two other UTEP students in 2015 and creating and releasing Soundcolour, Barba’s first album.

Following the release of his first album, Barba heard the recording of his senior recital, a requirement for music majors, and was pleased with his performance. In 2016 he turned his senior recital into his second album, naming it Lightyears.

“I wasn’t planning on making that one an album, but once I heard the recording I thought ‘Wow! This is actually a lot better than the first album!’” Barba said.

Although recording music at UTEP does get the job done, Barba always wanted the experience of recording in a real music studio.  In 2017 Barba gathered his trio of musicians and traveled to Tornillo, to create his third album, Afterlife, and was able to say he recorded an album in an authentic music studio.

“I saved some money to record at a world-class music studio,” Barba said. “I could only afford one day, so my trio and I were there for 12 hours playing nonstop but I was happy because that album was very good quality.”

In his first three albums, Barba was the main attraction, performing as the sole creator. Then he decided to step back, working as a sideman in a project of another UTEP student’s album.

When Barba isn’t in class mastering his skills as a pianist he spends most of his time at Cathedral High School teaching a general music program to the students or as a teaching assistant at UTEP.

“As a teaching assistant at UTEP, I mostly focus on instructing piano labs and it’s a class that all music majors have to take, it’s like a basic for music students,” Barba said. “I also teach other classes like music theory, choir classes and I accompany ballet classes which is cool!”

As a graduate student, Barba spends his school time in instructional classes that are individualized with professors and at night, Barba works gigs in El Paso and Juarez.

“I’m always performing at night and it’s always changing like sometimes I’ll perform at private parties or at clubs like International when they have jazz on Wednesdays,” Barba said.

Although Barba does not plan on becoming the next hit star, he plans to continue creating music on the borderland. Barba’s albums can be located online at and the albums are also available on online platforms like Spotify, iTunes/Apple Music, Amazon Music, CdBaby, etc.

Catherine Ramirez may be reached at [email protected].


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Keeping it classy: Graduate student records fifth jazz album, Duos