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12/24/13 - Havana Times - Jazz in Havana, Cuba 

By Irina Echarry  (Photos: Elio Delgado Valdes)

HAVANA TIMES - In recent days, Havana's jazz lovers had to plan their
evenings meticulously to be able to enjoy as many of the performances
staged at different venues and times around the city as possible.

Twenty-nine years after its creation (in 1979, when it was presided by
Bobby Carcasses), Havana's International Jazz Plaza Festival continues to
provide us an opportunity to come into contact with different performers
from the jazz world.

This year's festival opened with Yipsy Garcia and her band. Then, Harold
Lopez Nussa and his quartet took the stage (inviting singer Omara Potuondo
to join them at one point). The evening ended with a performance by Arturo
O'Farril - son of the renowned Cuban composer Chico O'Farril - and his
band, Afro Latin Jazz, who also invited several Cuban musicians to join
them on stage and delighted their audience with the piece Action and

All of the Festival concerts over four days were equally good. The event
ended on Sunday December 22.

The Bertolt Brecht Theatre, Mella Theatre (and gardens), the Avenida
Concert Hall, the legendary cultural center located in Havana's
neighborhood of Plaza - the venue of the first gathering that gave rise to
the festival - and a new addition to the festival circuit, the Club
Miramar, were some of the festival venues this year.

The Palacio de la Rumba ("Rumba Palace") and Maxim Rock club were also the
stage of performances aimed at exploring jazz influences in other music

The festival's most valuable asset is its diversity, the mixture of
aesthetically different genres. During the festival, one can come across
anything from traditional and Latin jazz, to experimental and Gospel music
and boleros or jazzed-up rumbas.

Different generations of musicians also come together during the festival:
established artists share the stage with newcomers, and language barriers
are dissolved among musical notes, melodies and applauses.

Two months before, organizers had announced that the 29th festival would be
dedicated to Chucho and Bebo Valdes, and that the opening performance, to
be held at the Avellaneda concert hall in Havana's National Theatre, would
feature Chucho Valdes himself. 

Bebo Valdes' criticisms of the Cuban government may explain why this
dedication was extended to "the great, Cuban jazz musicians" at the last
minute. No one has yet to offer a convincing explanation.

The change is a good way of paying deserved tribute to many of the
musicians who have enriched the genre in the course of time, but it also
eclipses the merits of the pianist who passed away in March this year. As
for Chucho Valdes, he did not attend the festival.

There was, however, no shortage of Cuban and foreign jazz musicians at the
festival. The Swiss band Nolose played alongside to the Cuban band Gala
Mayor, Dutch drummer Joost Lijburt joined Cuban pianist Abel Marcel and
Bass player Arturo Cruz on stage and the US band Jazz Urbaine, led by
saxophonist Carlos Averhoff Jr., was well received by the public.

Chucho Valdes' absence was felt during the Festival. So was Roberto
Fonseca's, though we did hear news about the musician, reporting that his
album Yo ("Me") had been nominated for a Year's Best Latin Jazz Album at
the Grammys and that the Washington Post had included the album among the
best albums of 2013.

Thus - between notable attendances and notable absences - did one of the
longest-running and most prestigious music festivals in Latin America take
place in Havana.

Click on the thumbnails below to view all the photos in this gallery

Original Source / Fuente Original: http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=100805


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