Cuba is inserted in the celebrations for the International Jazz Day with a number of events that culminates this weekend in the traditional spaces dedicated to this genre in the capital city.
At the National Hotel, site of the meeting, musicians like Bobby Carcasses, Alejandro Falcon, Roberto Fonseca, the drummer Yissy García, the saxophonist Emir Santacruz and the singer Luna Manzanares, among others, showed vitality, creativity and virtuosity gathering along with their compositions and improvisations to a large audience of Cuban, foreigners, graduated or students that avidly of knowledge attended the presentation.
As the event organizer, Loreta Zerquera,declared to OnCuba “the main activity was scheduled for Osaka, Japan, and we wanted to be involved in the festivities around the world. We did not want to overlook this date therefore we organized the third edition of this event.
Among the participants is Bobby Carcasses considered as the master of all the musicians that attended the event. Roberto Fonseca also participated, an icon for all jazz musicians. Young performers who are contributing a lot to the genre such as Emir Santacruz, YissyGarcia, and even completely new projects were also involved in the event. Cuba has brought and still brings a lot to this genre so our goal was to join as many significant musicians of every generation as possible and I think that we accomplished that”.
Seven jazz bands and numerous artists alternated their performances showing a variety of ways to do the music and the moment. Each change was also an opportunity to collect views on this meeting for the music, the creativity and the undeniable imprint of Cuba.
Bobby Carcasses, pianist, composer, and teacher: “This is the third edition, the first was two years ago and in the past I was awarded the National Prize of Music at the Café Miramar. I think it’s very important to highlight the presence of the contemporary jazz in Cuba through young people like Alejandro Falcon; those who a few years ago were young promises of the music and now are fulfilled artists, great figures ofnational and international jazz.
Musicians like our Yassek Manzano who will also have presentations these days, studied at Juilliard School of Music in New York and performed there along Winton Marsalis and other iconic figures.
“I think the influences and Cuban contribution will always be there. United States and Cuba are geographically connected, also Mexico. Cuba has historically been within the landscape of these countries and everything has repercussions as a sounding board on either side. So it was with the New Orleans Jazz. From the beginning of the genre the bond has been very direct and is shown in the book 100 Years of Jazz by Leonardo Acosta, where it is quite explicit.
“I’m sure that new generations will continue to contribute to the flow and this event is an example. Jazz is more than music and rhythm, is an aesthetic, it’s a philosophy: the philosophy of creative freedom. The improviser is a purely creative individual who also creates his work of art in front of the public becoming a transcendental event. That is its beauty. “
Yissy Garcia, drummer: “For me it’s a very nice experience to share with these artists. Being here is a way of visualizing oneself among so many figures and in front of the public. Each performance is to move a little farther, a contribution to our career, a great experience. I think there should be events like these, more often and it is very important that it’s been organized on a special day like this. “
Alejandro Falcon, pianist and composer:”This is the third edition of this celebration in Cuba. I was present the first time at the Mella Theater, with the band of the maestro Joaquín Betancourt and the bassist Jorge Reyes. I am very happy to be here again with great musicians. Furthermore, it is a pleasure to share with excellent musicians like Roberto Fonseca, Emir Santacruz, with whom I have worked some other times.
“To my mind the jazz movement in Cuba is in very good health. Cuban jazz as such, both the one created in Cuba and the one created by its musicians abroad, has taken great strength especially after JoJazz festival, in which all the exponents of the new generation have been awarded in a way or another, even as many of us have disks with Colibrí label primarily resulting from our presentations at these events. I think there are many good musicians that are taking on the genre from their personal vision with their own styles and are very healthy for Cuban music in general.
“Jazz, from the twentieth century to date, has strengthened since it is present and can be fused with all the other genres of the universal popular music. Meanwhile the music in the island was always present in jazz since many Cubans played it from its beginnings in the twentieth century, coming from the influence of Chano Pozo with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. Many Cuban musicians like Mario Bauza played that music and later it has been in constant evolution with Chucho Valdez, EmilianoS alvador, Ernan López Nussa, etc.. Today, new young performers and composers of this genre continue to grow. Both Cuba and Brazil and the U.S. are very strong powers of this genre and we will continue doing our art. “
Luna Manzanares, singer: “It’s very important that the International Day of Jazz has been observed for a new opportunity here in Cuba. Our country is a key part in development of jazz and I feel great to be here defending this global event from what one can do. Women in jazz have often been something exotic, interesting, but they have always been part of it. Their interpretations, I do not know why, on many occasions have been smaller than that of men, but every time there is one I think she contributes for the rest. On our side, I feel great to be here all together. I like this to be an incentive for all of us, and for what the rest of the jazz musicians do on the island.”
Dayme Arocena, singer: “Participation is a big responsibility, especially for young people like me, especially for women. However, I think what is most important is not that we are men or women, but that we all come for the same goal: to hold high the name of jazz. Sometimes the genre is not spread enough, and hopefully more people join these initiatives, especially girls, because I think it should be women who defend this genre. I will say, dare to, it is not as difficult as it seems, the most important thing is to want to do it, and that is why we are here.
Julio César González, bassist: “It’s great that these events are done more often because jazz is a genre that is not given proper attention many times. I think it is great that this day various artists have come together to defend music above all and to do well on stage. For every musician the main idea is to work on different aspects of music but jazz is a particular way to express moods, to demonstrate the feeling.
Lizzie O’farrill: “I was a pianist in Canela and other groups. My style falls more to the World Music, something more comprehensive, not only jazz but mixed with other genres such as hip hop but to be here and do almost a debut of my new proposal is a dream come true because as a child I wanted to be a jazz musician and it is a great challenge for me because I am now defending my own project in front of so many good musicians. “
William Roblejo, violinist: “It is a pleasure to be here listening to jazz because I´m watching these young people fighting hard for this kind of music. Whenever I have the opportunity to share with them I learn so much, it is a sign of new things, new experiences and all that Cuba is doing and can bring to jazz.
Denis Carbo, saxophonist: “Participating in an event like this is a great opportunity. Most of the places that promote this type of music have prices that many Cubans cannot afford and events like this are something that the musician is continuously looking for, places where many people can hear us even without cost. Furthermore, interacting with personalities like those present is a dream come true. It’s great that a day like this continues to be recognized since the frame for jazz is still somewhat closed. To promote activities like this offers more options, locations, tangible support and opportunities for which I am grateful. “
Emir Santacruz, saxophonist: “I always feel good because there are more peers, there is a feedback. We rarely have the opportunity to share together. Hopefully events like this are repeated, where we demonstrate all that we have to give, because particularly in the case of jazz there is always new stuff, it never ends. “
Roberto Fonseca, pianist: “Being here is very nice; it’s like to show up in something that is happening internationally. I have been lucky to be on the island and to be able to contribute to this event because there was a long time since we last performed on the island because of the tours we have had.
“It’s always good to play here and for the Cuban people without access to spaces like the Jazz Café or la Zorra y el Cuervo. In addition, other concerts are too late and the kids cannot go. This time I see that there are many children and that is good because we are interested on educating students of schools a little more. We are sensing that there are directions that should not be taken and it is our, musicians’, part and task to teach the different ways.
“Today we present part of the new things in which we are immersed. We always seek to do different things; we do not want to be cataloged just like jazz players: we are musicians with influences and trends, is what interests us. By getting titles or definitions I think we framed ourselves in a sound, and we are limited and we really have a unique music education in schools that contributes a lot. We have the rhythmic, classical music and also everything that comes from different parts of the world. So the best thing you can do is to have an open mind, open ears and try to receive as much music as possible for which one life is not enough. And on our side we want to show a bit in the trend we are now defending.
“I believe that as representatives of our island we still have much to offer to the international jazz. Everything depends on how the Cuban musician sees himself and loves himself. Sometimes many performers tend to lean on virtuosity, which far from helping, damages us. By virtuosity I mean the outpouring of notes, which can help us to catalogue us as aggressive musicians. The current Latin jazz or free jazz had its time and responded to a social movement, breaking schemes, but now there are other sources to explore. Even major international figures and renowned American jazz musicians are no longer doing the traditional apart from exponents like Winton Marsalis and his Orchestra Lincoln that must keep the line because they are an institution. But jazz has changed. Electronics for example have serve as an impulse, always depending on the way it is addressed. And I reaffirm, it is about focusing all those things on the music not the music on those things. “
By: Melbys Nicola