En este momento estás viendo Jazz Plaza, a festival at the height of Cuba and its culture (+Photos)

Jazz Plaza, a festival at the height of Cuba and its culture (+Photos)

A deluxe musical-dance show put the finishing touch to the 39th edition of the Jazz Plaza International Festival, a space of high artistic confluence that placed the name of the event at the height of Cuba and its culture.

On Sunday night, the Avellaneda Hall of the National Theater in this capital city hosted a wide range of great artists in a presentation where the remarkable Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca, artistic director of the event, fused art and melody together with the National Ballet of Cuba (BNC).

The performance of the young dancers, who danced to the rhythm of Contradanza del Espíritu, a highly virtuosic composition in Fonseca’s repertoire, deserved standing ovations and applause from the audience.

For this gala, which celebrated the 75th anniversary of the company, founded on October 28, 1948 by Fernando, Alberto and Alicia Alonso, Cuban dancer and choreographer Raúl Reinoso created Apparatus, a work that delves into the inner depths of the human being.

«I am a creator who makes music with the body, and my purpose with the piece was to deconstruct the classical paradigm of the BNC to immerse myself in the individual, work with them, not with the dancers, and get to know their ailments, aspirations, sensuality, religions,» he told Prensa Latina.

The instrumentalist also accompanied, from the sonority of his fingers, the prima ballerina and general director of the renowned dance group, Viengsay Valdés, and principal dancer Ányelo Montero in the third movement of Love Fear Loss, a ballet inspired by the life and music of the famous French singer Edith Piaf, with choreography by Ricardo Amarante and music by Charles Dumont.

The pianist enchanted the audience once again with his most recent album La gran diversión, where the skill of his hands was enhanced by melodies such as Baila mulata, Cuando tú bailas pa mí, Oscar please stop and Maní mambo, along with the well-known No me llores más, which he dedicated to «those great musicians of Buena Vista Social Club».

Fonseca received the «Llave de la Casa de los Autores» award from the Sociedad General de Autores y Editores (Sgae), and Viengsay Valdés received an award from Jazz Plaza and other institutions for the company’s anniversary: a piece by Cuban photographer Lilien Trujillo Vitón.

Under the slogan Pa’que flujazz a nuestro ritmo, the festival was honored with the participation of greats of the pentagram as its main architect, the musician Bobby Carcassés, and the Cuban pianists based in the United States Arturo O’Farrill and Ignacio «Nachito» Herrera.

Sharing the stage with them were other great Cuban artists, musicians from 21 countries, including 92 U.S. performers and 66 international groups, who offered their art from January 21 to 28 on stages in Havana and Santiago de Cuba.

There were others who, with interpretative skills, gave magic to the jazz event in their country: José María Vitier at the piano with a star-studded Insular Night, Alejandro Falcón and his trio Cubadentro, who together with the contemporary dance company Malpaso seduced to the rhythm of La Isla que Baila (The Island that Dances).

Estrellas de Buena Vista y más, a group made up of the founding members of this prestigious format that emerged in the mid-1990s and under the musical direction of maestro Pancho Amat, performed for the first time on the national scene.

Wisdom rhymes with Cubanness when it comes to Joaquín Betancourt, reads a headline in the festival’s newspaper. Without a doubt, the recital Amada Música del maestro was extraordinary, a performance that celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Jazz Band and the 50th anniversary of the artistic life of the National Music Prize winner (2019).

The recently concluded edition broke attendance records, considered Fonseca, thanks also to the presence of international talents such as Dominican saxophonist Sandy Gabriel, Mexican violinist and singer Mireya Ramos – Latin Grammy winner in 2017 -, American pianist Aaron Goldberg, and the Norwegian band Mathias Eick Quintet, among many others.

Jazz in Cuba reached a high flight in the hands also of young performers such as Cuban pianist Rodrigo García Ameneiro, who led a tribute concert to the Nueva Trova, and his fellow Cuban saxophonist Michel Herrera, who paid tribute to the prestigious musician Bola de Nieve.

Other relevant artists were honored at the festival, among them Miguelito Cuní, César «Pupy» Pedroso and Pachy Naranjo Verdecia, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the orchestra La Original de Manzanillo.

The event reserved in this capital an academic meeting, the XIX International Colloquium «Leonardo Acosta in Memoriam» (January 22-27), which gathered at the Cuban Art Factory specialists, students, professionals of the genre and the industry under a common thread: the piano in jazz.

Meanwhile, the Colloquium «Mariano Mercerón in Memoriam» was held in Santiago de Cuba, January 22-23.

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