Irina Echarry, photos: Caridad

Gonzalo Rubalcaba at the Mella Theater in Havana.

HAVANA TIMES, Dec 17 — On Thursday night, December 15, the doors to the Mella Theater opened up to welcome jazz. Minutes before the function began, there were still some tickets remaining, perhaps because of the limited coverage the event received or maybe because of the increased price of admission.

The International Jazz Plaza Festival began as a free event in the 80’s. The only thing anyone needed to get in to the Plaza Casa de la Cultura (cultural center) was good energy and desire to listen to jazz.

Later they started asking an admission price, which has been rising gradually to where it is 25 pesos for nationals ($1 USD) and 25 CUC’s (pushing $30 for foreigners).

What’s certain is that this is an opportunity to enjoy the masters of the form live, but what’s not customary is for a Cuban theater to cost so much.

In any case, when the curtains were drawn everyone forgot about the price they had paid.

First was the Entre Voces choir, led by Digna Guerra; then came the trio of William Roblejo, himself a young and talented violinist; winners at JoJazz 2010. Coming after all of this was Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba (now a US resident), who demonstrated his mastery on the keyboard with beautiful pieces inviting one to dream.

The finale was reserved for Arturo O’Farrill, another prominent American pianist who rose the night to the rhythm of Latin jazz.

It was a good evening, though one important detail was the absence of the National Symphony Orchestra, which had been announced for that night since this 27th edition of Jazz Plaza is devoted to classical music in jazz.

But there will be more. Our most prominent jazz musicians and several performances by foreign guests from Poland, India, the US, Austria and Japan and Peru are awaiting the applause of the Cuban public.

Jazz Plaza continues through Sunday Dec. 18 at nine Havana venues and one in Varadero.

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