Photos: Karel Perez Alejo (https://plus.google.com/115867818683434956157)
Like a manager, he handpicked carefully who will play each position in the field and the presentation had a name … Concert Pablo Menendez & Mezcla: Cuban Jazz All Stars.
Before we start, we want to make a statement: "Those who will go through here today are gold medallist at the Olympics." And for the “good musical shape” of these performers won’t vanish in the transience of the night, a DVD was recorded that will bring back every moment lived in the Covarrubias hall of the National Theatre.
The Octavio Rodriguez’s Batá drums and Paul Menendez’s electric guitar broke the silence with “Hijos de la mezcla” (Sons of the mixture) as an omen of what would be the theme for two hours of Latin jazz, which mixed Caribbean and American rhythms, ignoring borders-if any-between reggae, blues, guaguancó, rock and roll, son, and the conga that few miles away gives color to the nights on the Havana’s Malecon these days.
The versatility of the musicians moved from compositions such as “El médico de los pianos” (The doctor of the pianos), which starts as a danzon to become a cha-cha, to Chucho’s Blues, a tribute to the internationally acclaimed Cuban pianist Chucho Valdes, and Cuando se vaya la luz mi negra (When the power goes out my black lady), now in the Pablo Menendez voice. This DVD also includes new live versions of other pieces by this band included in the CD “I’ll see you in Cuba” (2010), among them, ¿Quién tiene ritmo? (Who has rhythm?) and the track the album is named after, originally composed by the American Irving Berlin decades ago.
In addition to the voice and guitar of the group leader, this “high performance” team included experienced Jose Hermida in the bass, Alexis Bosch in the piano, an important performer who has been universally acclaimed, to Octavio Rodriguez in the percussion, whose virtuosity has earned him the epithet of “Maestro” Cuban jazz players, and the renowned Ruy Lopez-Nussa in the drums, that near the end of the night took over for a few minutes to excite both the public and his peers on stage.
The brass section also starred climactic moments with saxophonists Orlando Sanchez and Cesar Lopez, the latter invited by Mezcla for the show, plus the talented Mayquel Gonzalez who dedicated a piece created by him to Roberto Garcia, another trumpeter who has played with the group and was invited to perform this time. The eleven-man team led by Menendez was completed with the violinist William Roblejo and flutist Haydee Lopez.
The concert was adorned with works of young visual artists Maurice Abbot and Marcel Marquez, each of which was accompanied by a song. As part of the filmmaking team of the audiovisual products are a group of young filmmakers, among them, the student of the School of Film and Television of San Antonio de los Baños (EICTV), Carlos M. Quintela, who this year presented to the Cuban public his film “La piscina” (The pool).
Nearly two hours after the beginning, amidst farewell applauses and open shots taken by the cameras, the expectation grew for the time when the public could play this DVD at home, and enjoy the charms of a good ‘game’ of jazz.