Jazz Lets Loose in Havana


Mella TheaterHAVANA TIMES, Nov 28.- When the first notes of the 11th Jojazz Festival sounded Thursday night at Havana’s Mella Theater the temperature began to rise and people began taking off their sweaters.

Opening night started off with some of Cuba’s top musicians backing Bobby Carcasses, the man to which this year’s event is dedicated. The showman and promoter of young talent scatted, danced, played trumpet and conducted the first song of the Jazz Band group, led by Joaquin Betancourt.

The flute of Maraca was one of the big treats of the evening, combining perfectly with Pancho Terry and his chequere percussion instrument to get emotions flowing and bodies moving.

After the intermission we enjoyed the interpretations of three Jojazz prizewinners from other years: Camila Cortina (composition 2007) who showed she continues to exceed herself and surprise, Rembert Duarte, a young pianist and trumpet player that won an award for composition from Spain’s Society of Authors 2004 and in both the 2006 and 2007 Jojazz competitions for young musicians and composers, and lastly the Aires de Concierto Quartet (special mention at Jojazz 2007) who closed the segment of past years’ revelations with two clarinets, a base and percussion.

Since its founding, Jojazz has been the proving ground for numerous breakout artists, including pianists like Alejandro Vargas and Harold Lopez-Nusa, who had the opportunity to record their first discs thanks to the contest.

Bobby Carcasses was back on stage to close out the evening. He reminded us of one of the marvels of this festival, the coming together of young students and musicians with the top jazz artists on an island where one gets the impression that it rains music.

Jojazz continues through Sunday November 30th.