“Jazz Plaza 2024” is A Global Celebration of Jazz in Cuba

The Jazz Plaza 2024 Festival kicked off in Cuba, featuring over 150 artists from 21 countries, turning Havana and Santiago de Cuba into vibrant hubs of international jazz.

Jazz Plaza 2024 Festival: A Global Showcase of Musical Talent

The Jazz Plaza 2024 Festival, Cuba’s premier jazz event, commenced this Sunday with a flourish of musical talent, bringing together instrumentalists and singers from over twenty countries across America, Europe, and Asia. Spanning until January 28, this festival has transformed Havana and Santiago de Cuba into pulsating centers of jazz, showcasing a diverse array of global talent.

In Havana, the Covarrubias Hall at the National Theater hosted the ‘Amada Música’ gala. This special event was dedicated to Cuban maestro Joaquín Betancourt, the 2019 National Music Prize winner, celebrating his 50 years in the art world alongside a lineup of guest artists from the United States, Brazil, and Cuba.

International and Local Jazz Talents Unite at Martí Theater

The same night saw a blend of international and local jazz talents at Havana’s historic Martí Theater. American saxophonist Ted Nash and Cuban pianist Alejandro Falcón and his group and the Cuban dance collective MalPaso shared the stage, illustrating the festival’s commitment to cross-cultural collaboration.

Simultaneously, Santiago de Cuba’s Heredia Theater, in the country’s second most important city, opened its jazz season with a performance featuring the Cuban-American pianist Nachito Herrera, American violinist Karen Briggs, guitarist Yohannes Tona, and a group of local Cuban performers.

Theoretical Event in Santiago de Cuba: Fostering Education and Exchange

Santiago de Cuba also hosts a theoretical event, engaging jazz professionals and the music industry. This includes young art school students from the region, fostering a platform for education and exchange.

In the capital, the Cuban Art Factory (FAC), one of the festival’s venues, is the site of the 19th “Leonardo Acosta in Memoriam” international colloquium. This five-day event features conferences, workshops, and masterclasses on jazz, delving into its connections with heritage, the music industry, and sound, among other topics.

This 39th edition of the Jazz Plaza Festival boasts an impressive lineup with 258 concerts and the participation of over 150 soloists from 21 countries. This includes a strong representation from the United States and Canada, with 92 musicians and artists from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Barbados, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, France, Switzerland, Spain, Austria, the Netherlands, Norway, and Denmark.

Grand Finale: Pianist Roberto Fonseca, National Ballet, and Los Muñequitos de Matanzas

The festival’s grand finale promises to be spectacular, featuring pianist Roberto Fonseca, the National Ballet of Cuba, and the Cuban rumba collective Los Muñequitos de Matanzas. This closing spectacle underscores the festival’s unique blend of jazz with other Cuban cultural expressions.

The Jazz Plaza Festival, which first emerged in 1980 from jam sessions at the Casa de la Cultura in Havana’s Plaza municipality, was organized by veteran musician Bobby Carcassés, who is considered its founding father. Over the years, it has grown under the coordination of the National Center of Popular Music, the Cuban Music Institute, and the Ministry of Culture, becoming a key event in the international jazz calendar.

The festival showcases jazz’s rich and diverse traditions and highlights Cuba’s longstanding contribution to the genre. It is a melting pot of musical styles, where traditional Cuban rhythms meet contemporary jazz, creating a unique and dynamic sound landscape.

A Vibrant Celebration of Jazz’s Universal Language

As Jazz Plaza 2024 unfolds, it becomes more than just a festival; it’s a vibrant celebration of jazz’s universal language, transcending geographical and cultural boundaries. It brings musicians, enthusiasts, and scholars together, creating a space for dialogue, creativity, and cultural exchange.

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In essence, Jazz Plaza 2024 is a testament to jazz’s enduring power and appeal. It continues to evolve, drawing new audiences and artists alike, making Havana and Santiago de Cuba hosts and critical contributors to the global jazz narrative. With its rich tapestry of performances and educational opportunities, this festival not only entertains but also educates and inspires, ensuring the legacy of jazz continues to thrive in Cuba and beyond.

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