Irina Echarry  (Photos: Elio Delgado Valdes)

HAVANA TIMES — During the recently concluded Jazz Plaza 2014 festival several new venues took part in the event. One of those was the Pabellon Cuba facility; various reasons made it an option to consider.

The first is that it is situated on 23rd and N Streets; you couldn’t ask for a more central location.

Another was that the functions began in the afternoon. About 2.00 pm giving those attending the chance to leave in time for a night concert in any other centers associated to the Festival, such as the Plaza Cultural Center or the jam venue at the Hotel Sevilla.

Third –and not least-, it was extremely cheap. Elsewhere prices were at or above 20 pesos. Thus, if a person went every night to the Mella Theater venue for example, they spent 100 pesos in entries; if you took a companion, double the figure. However, to access the Pabellon Cuba (or Cuba Pavillion) you only had to fork out 4 pesos and you could stay until it closed.

I must note that not only was there jazz, there was also various musical genres and other forms of art such as dance and visual arts, making for a more varied repertoire and more diverse audience.

The best thing I have left for last: the opportunity to enjoy the young jazz musicians live close up and informally. Generally, in theaters or circumspect sites, musicians wear a suit or elegant shirts and remain almost static; someone calls them “teachers” or “virtuous” or the awards obtained in different international events are remembered.

However all that formality was absent at the Pabellon Cuba; some were so informal they even forgot to say their name to the public or the title of the song they played. However, none of that was needed, the reality was that the musicians had fun playing and, with them, those who went to listen. Improvisation, that powerful spice that when its missing becomes the jazz a bit bland reigned at the concerts when the young musicians played their instruments.

The night I went there were the Jorge Aragon Trio, William Roblejo, Alejandro Falcon and Cubadentro, César Filiú, Yanet Valdes, Alejandro Meroño. An example of nonchalance was the presentation of Delvis Ponce and Experimental Jazz with Alejandro Vargas, a pianist based in Spain for several years, who made three improvisations where we recognized chords of classics like Caravan and Summertime, or the very Cuban Guantanamera.

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One thought on “Jazz at the Pabellon Cuba

  • Like baseball, Cuba has taken to this 100% Made in the USA music genre like a duck to water. As a lifelong jazz fan, Cuban-flavored jazz is entertaining and easy on the ears. Unlike other jazz derivatives, Cuban jazz is always light and rhythmic. It is not surprising that so many young and newly-minted musicians take to Cuban jazz so well as it is accessible to both the young musician and the new listener. I am sure this event was a lot of fun.

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