Question: How do I find out the Jazz Calendar in Havana?
Answer: Cuba is a great place for Jazz and has become known worldwide for its Havana International Jazz Festival – Jazz Plaza. Organized by the internationally renowned Cuban jazz musician Chuchu Valdés and sponsored by the Cuban Institute of Music, the festival displays the creative link between Cuban rhythm an jazz, which goes back to the late 19th century when newly freed slaves emigrated to New Orleans.
Beginning in 1979 pretty much as a local event at the Casa de la Cultura de Plaza, the Festival has grown in size and scope and now has venues that include several large theatres and nightclubs. Over the years, it has attracted international stars of the caliber of Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Haden, Steve Coleman, Michel Legrand, Ivan Lins and Ronnie Scott, to name just a few, who together with Cuban greats such as Chucho Valdés, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Bobby Carcassés and Ernàn López-Nussa – to mention just a few – attract fans from all over the world. Scheduled annually in December, just after the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema, it’s a delicious and exciting mixture of scheduled performances, spontaneous street jam sessions, photographic exhibitions and encounters to get to know the local music community.
The JoJazz festival/competition for young jazz musicians has also become a yearly event.
If you can’t make a Jazz Festival, there are also lots of local venues where you can enjoy jazz. Some of the more popular ones are La Zorra y el Cuervo in Vedado, where the CUC 10 admission includes CUC 5 towards drinks. You can find out their program by sending an email to either [email protected] or [email protected] or, once in the country, you can call them at (537) 833-2402. Another popular site is the Jazz Café, located on the top floor of the Galerías Paseo, also in Vedado. They have performances daily from 11pm to 1am, with a CUC 10 minimum consumption entrance fee. Their phone number – (537) 838-3302 – is very difficult to get through.
Unfortunately, there is no one site, whether within Cuba or outside the country, where one can find a full Jazz Calendar for Havana. However, one of the best sources of information for what’s happening in Havana – including some jazz – is the Cuba Absolutely website atwww.cubaabsolutely.com Click on the What’s On Cuba page for a monthly up-to-date listing and review – in English – of the best cultural events taking place in Havana during the month. Included is dance, theatre, music, literature and other events as well as previews of upcoming festivals.
We have asked Cubaabsolutely to include the La Zorra y el Cuervo and Jazz Café programming on their monthly calendar.