Jazz heavyweights in Cuba and the United States are again taking Havana as a meeting point. The Jazz Plaza International Festival is already preparing its 32nd edition in Havana with the added novelty of performing in Santiago de Cuba, as a present to music lovers.
The festival organizers have just announced the presence of U.S. trumpet player Terence Blanchard and his compatriot, bass player Christian McBride, as well as Cuban pianists Chucho Valdés, Roberto Fonseca and Miguel Núñez.
They are all heading a deluxe cartel that will attract lovers of the genre next December 15-18 to clubs like La Zorra y El Cuervo, the Plaza municipality House of Culture, the Mella Theater and other spaces, which almost add up to some 20 stages. According to Roberto Fonseca, who for the first time will be the honorary president of the event, sharing that function with Chucho Valdés, the idea is that the 32nd edition of Jazz Plaza will revitalize the Festival.
The young and renowned pianist (the usual accompanist of musicians like Omara Portuondo and director of the Temperamento group) affirms that he is motivated by the fact that “they all want to come to the play on the island, get to know our rhythms, our people. Cuba’s musicians are greatly respected in the entire world and when I was invited to participate as organizer of the Festival I loved the idea.”
Fonseca expressed his intentions of contributing his experiences as a musician in similar and internationally renowned competitions like the Montreal (Canada) and Marciac (France) festivals, to contribute to Jazz Plaza being a great hit.
“Together with my managing team and Cuba’s National Center for Popular Music we will gather forces and energies so that Jazz Plaza has a high-ranking name. We are bringing very important musicians like bass player Christian McBride. He agreed to come to Cuba to perform and those who know about the genre know that he is a God in his instrument.”
The recently premiered “honorary president” also disclosed the presence of Terence Blanchard, “one of most virtuoso trumpet players in the history of jazz in the United States.”
The premier in Cuba of a joint presentation of Roberto Fonseca and South African singer and actress Fatoumata Diawara, who have been collaborating for some time, is also being awaited. “We want it to be a super festival and that everyone is amazed with the programming, the preparation of the musicians…,” said Fonseca.
Among the most awaited in Jazz Plaza 2016 will be the concert by Terence Blanchard and Chucho Valdés; and that of singer-songwriter Pablo Milanés and pianist Miguel Núñez, this time both presenting the repertoire of a mutual record with the lyrics of the great Cuban songwriter and music by Nuñez.
As a novelty, the Havana Festival will make a stopover in Santiago de Cuba, a city where the international artists invited to the event will perform. Places in the eastern city like the Sala Dolores and the Iris Jazz Club will facilitate the meeting of local and foreign jazz musicians.
Next December’s billboards will also showcase renowned jazz musicians like Arturo O’Farril, the Latin Jazz band of the Millikin University, The Family Laws (all from the United States) in addition to projects like Jamaica’s Third World, Michel and his Latin Jazz group, from Colombia, and projects of Cubans residing abroad like Dayramir González.
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