Irina Echarry

Cuban trumpet player Julio Padron. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES, Nov. 12 — Returning to us this December 15-18 will be the “Havana Jazz Plaza Festival.”

The festival had its official beginnings at the beginning of the 1980s, although informal concerts had already begun in previous years at the Plaza Casa de la Cultura (cultural center) located at Calzada and 8th streets in the Vedado district.

It was in the 80’s when important jazz musicians of international renown began coming to this Cuban festival – artists such as Ronnie Scott, Dizzy Gillespie and Branford Marsalis.

The followers of this musical style in Cuba saw the rhythm shift somewhat in the 90’s with the arrival of salsa. This made it possible for popular Cuban music orchestras to also perform at this event for the enjoyment of many, though to the disappointment of some.

Venues and Musicians

Now, we can again delight in the fine atmosphere emanating from the musicians as well as the fans. The locations will be the same as usual: the Mella Theater and gardens, the Plaza Casa de Cultura, the Covarrubias Hall of the National Theatre and the Hotel Nacional, in addition to the traditional jazz clubs.

This 27th edition will be dedicated to classical music and its influence on jazz. For this reason the opening will feature the Orquesta Sifonica Nacional, the Coro Entre Voces, Jorge Reyes y Roberto Fonseca con Temperamento, among other guests. At the closing will be virtuoso pianist Frank Fernandez and the jazz band directed by Joaquin Betancourt, who will share the stage with other musicians.

Over the four days of this musical fiesta the stages will be filled with young jazz musicians and well-established ones of the stature of Bobby Carcasses, the Lopez -Nussa family (Harold, Hernan and Ruy), Alejandro Falcon and Cubadentro, Oscar Valdes and Diakara, Bellita y Jazztumbata, Emilio Morales, Abel Calderon, Cesar Lopez y Habana Ensemble, Gala Mayor or Aire de Concierto, just to name a few.

Each with their own style will demonstrate that Cuban jazz performers and composers are high-quality musicians, many of whom having been winners of the Jojazz competition (another important event that promotes of young musicians). From the United States will be coming the Troy University Jazz Ensemble and from India will be appearing the Berahman Naat String Quartet.

The Seventh International Jazz Colloquium will also be held, with sessions from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the theater of the Plaza Casa de Cultura. Featured there will be lectures, workshops, talks, and sales of DVD’s, CD’s and magazines in addition to the showing of documentaries.

Jazz Plaza will offer the chance to confirm the warm acceptance of this genre by people of the capital city. Although the halls are rarely filled, people who turn out are for the most part the same ones who follow these jazz musicians in their clubs throughout the year, in addition to foreigners who come for the occasion and some novices (domestic and foreign).

Since the official webpage for the event still hasn’t detailed the schedule, we are providing the link to the event’s program published by Cubarte (this is of course subject to last minute changes).

Like with every Jazz Plaza festival, Havana Times will be following the performances closely.


One thought on “Cuba’s Jazz Plaza Festival Preview

  • Tonight Cuban Jazz Band performed at Radio Pakistan. Jazz is not popular in Pakistan but we have a community fond of the Jazz. Follow the link to have a insight of the concert. @ http://bit.ly/UfVNnw . Best of luck with your festival and I am sure that would be great.

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