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Jazz Plaza Festival (JoJazz)

Jazz Plaza Festival (JoJazz)

As a prelude to the Internatioanl Jazz Plaza Festival that is held in December, the 15th edition of JoJazz, the competition for young jazz musicians, was held from November 22 to 26, 2012, this time at an international level with the presence of performers from Mexico, the Netherlands and El Salvador. Bright young hopes of a genre that was born over a century ago in New Orleans, and which has accumulated over its history a few debts to Cuban music and musicians, performed before audiences who were excited to be present at the possible birth of future jazz stars, both as composers and performers.

Hosted by the Bertolt Brecht Cultural Center, this competition is an opportunity for new generations of young jazz musicians from throughout Cuba to become visible to the public. The awards ceremony showed—luckily—a breach in the “Havana-centeredness” of previous competitions. Along with jazz players and composers from Havana, musicians from other provinces won prizes in the different categories (see list of winners below).

As usual, didactic activities were held during the event, including a workshop on the significance of the JoJazz Competition to Cuban music; a guest lecture by Victor Goines, jazz saxophonist and clarinetist of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra; and a presentation by the Dutch band Ariffa, who also gave a concert, on their experiences in the fusion of music from North Africa and the Middle East with jazz.

The concerts at the Mella Theater and the jam sessions at the Mella Gardens and La Zorra y el Cuervo nightclub delighted the numerous jazz fans in Havana. The opening ceremony held at the Mella Theater included the performance of two pieces from the two albums that were launched that evening: Sueños del pequeño Quin (2012 Cubadisco prize), by Joaquín Betancourt’s jazzband, and En la espera, by young saxophonist Michel Herrera and his band Joven Jazz.

The awards ceremonies on November 24 and 25 were accompanied, respectively, by the performances of the excellent percussionist and composer, 2010 and 2011 JoJazz prizewinner Yissy Garcia along with Jorge Reyes and guests; and the also JoJazz prizewinner Yasek Manzano with his band Habana Jazz Collective.

This second concert was memorable for several reasons. Yasek Manzano, who became a JoJazz prizewinner when he was only 15, and completed his professional training at the Juilliard School in New York with the American trumpet player, living legend Wynton Marsalis, decided to form a band with outstanding young Cuban jazz musicians, including pianist Alejandro Falcón, saxophonist Michel Herrera, trombonist Yoandry Argudín and singer Yanet Valdes. With this talented team, Manzano has ensured that the individual contribution by each musician to the seamless cohesion and fusion of the band does not limit their creativity and virtuosic brilliance. Along with the ubiquitous Jorge Reyes and drummer Ruy Lopez-Nussa, Habana Jazz Collective gave a lesson in good taste, excellence and vitality.

JoJazz took place between experienced and young musicians, traditional jazz and the most modern Cuban and international sounds, and whose prizewinners clearly suggest the birth of new jazz stars.

2012 JoJazz prizewinners
1st Place
Roisel Alejandro Suárez Bosque (Trumpet)
Pieces: Compotate y Viaducto
Escuela Nacional de Arte (ENA)

2nd Place
Jesús Raciel Pupo (Piano)
Pieces: Havana del 50 and Tendencia
Conservatorio Amadeo Roldán

3rd Place (shared)
Iván Oswaldo Díaz Córdoba (Guitar)
Pieces: Verde aroma and Al Escamote
El Salvador

Yasel Muñoz Álvarez (Piano)
Pieces: A Laura e Historias de las cosas pequeñas
Conservatorio José María Ochoa (Holguín)

Daymé Uribarri Arocena (Vocalist)
Pieces: Ranip and Latingó
Centro Provincial de la Música Miguelito Cuní (Pinar del Río) 

1st Place
Hiroshi Iwasaky López (Saxophone)
Instituto Superior de Arte

2nd Place
Rafael Aldama Chiroles (Double bass)
Conservatorio Amadeo Roldán

3rd Place
Carlo Josué Alfonso Álvarez (Saxophone)

Miguel Ángel García Fernández (Piano)
Conservatorio Guillermo Tomás

1st Place
Eduardo Campos Reyd (Double bass)
Orquesta Sinfónica de Camagüey

2nd Place
Carlos Enrique Veitía Hechavarría (Saxophone)
Centro Provincial de La Música El Guayabero de Holguín

3rd Place
Randy Veitía Godines (Trumpet)
Conservatorio José White (Camagüey)

Eduardo Jesús Sandoval Ferrer (Trombone)
Jazz Band Instituto Superior de Arte

1st Place
Director: Orlando David Fuentes Soto (Drums)
Orquesta Sinfónica de Oriente, Santiago de Cuba

2nd Place
5 Pa’Sax
Conductor: David Rubén Rodríguez Labrada (Saxophone)
Instituto Superior de Arte

3rd Place
A Otro Tiempo
Conductor: Dionne Pérez (Vocalist)
Universidad de La Habana

Conductor: Yuniet Lombida Prieto (Saxophone)
Escuela Nacional de Arte

December 2012

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