JoJazz 2012: Awards, Yissy Garcia and Arifa

Irina Echarry

Carlos Josue Alfonso Alvarez on sax.

HAVANA TIMES — The 2012 JoJazz competition was marked by good organization, both in the competition program and in the performances – especially with respect to their punctuality.

On the last day of competition, the jury announced the winners in composition and performance by those artists participating in the minors category.

Hours earlier, those youth had left the audience attending the Bertolt Brecht Teater ecstatic over what they had heard.

The majority of the players went for Latin jazz, for which they felt with a special passion when playing their instruments. Once again, though, you could sense something missing with the lack of young women in the performance category, (the few that did participate were vocalists and composers).

It had been a few years ago since we saw such a fiercely fought competition. For four days these young people permeated energy through every space they played, whether in the gardens of the Mella Theater, Tito Junco Hall at the Brecht Theater or inside the Mella itself.

This past Saturday, November 24, the awards were presented with special guests and an outstanding concert.

The group “Arifa,” which was founded in Amsterdam in 2010 and appeared two years ago in Cuba, returned with their mix of Eastern music and jazz. It was a special moment for many people to hear such intense and emotional music, though without the passion that characterizes Cuban works.

Ivan Oswaldo Diaz

Later came the session with the 2006 and 2010 JoJazz Award winner Yissy Garcia, a young woman who displayed her temperament, energy and virtues on the drums. Until recently she was a member of the female salsa group “Anacaona” and has always been seen close to other musicians (in different genres), especially with young people like her who love jazz.

Now she’s the leader of a musical project interested in exploring Latin jazz, funk and electronic music. Yissy introduced her band, which is made up of Jorge Aragon on piano, Julio Cesar Gonzalez on bass, Hector Quintana on guitar, Dayron Echevarria on percussion, Julio Rigal on trumpet, and another artist who gives a contemporary but different feel to the group: DJ Iznay Rodriguez.

The closing ceremony of the 15th edition of the competition was led by the 1998 JoJazz winner, trumpeter Yasek Manzano, in addition to several other prize holders from previous years.

JoJazz has become an important musical event in the country, extending not only to other provinces but this year having reached an international status. The event has brought to the light the virtuosity, talent and love of jazz among the youngest of Cuban musicians.


The winners in the category of composition have the right to register their works with the Cuban Agency of Musical Authorship.


First Prize: Roisel Alejandro Suárez (for the songs: Compótate y Viaducto)
Second Prize: Jesús Rasiel Pupo
Third Prize (shared): Iván Oswaldo Díaz (El Salvador) y Yasel Muñóz Álvarez (provincia Holguín)
Honorable Mention: Daymé Arozena

Interpretation (minors)

First Prize: Iroshi  Iwasaki (sax)
Second Prize: Rafael Aldana (stand up bass)
Third Prize: Carlos Josué Alfonso Álvarez (sax)
Honorable Mention: Miguel Ángel García (piano)

Interpretation (adults)

First Prize: Eduardo Campos (stand up bass),
Second Prize: Carlos Enrique Veitía (sax)
Third Prize: Randy Veitía (trompeta)
Honorable Mention: Eduardo Jesús Sandoval (trombone)

Gran Prize: The National Art School Jazz Band

Jazz Band Category: The National Art School Jazz Band

Small Format Jazz Group Prize: Influencia (Santiago de Cuba)


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