The Snarky Puppy left Cubans with hunger for more, in the closing concert of the 32nd International Festival Jazz Plaza. They got here preceded by their fame, and didn’t disappoint the audience who attended Mella theater Last Sunday.
Besides, African singer Fatoumata Diawara showed up her beautiful voice to steal everyone’s hearts. The artist came from Cote d’Ivorie to perform with Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca and his group Temperamento.
It was truly a party for Jazz lovers. Musicians from 10 countries, including some of Cuba's best players, played in the ensembles, jam sessions, exhibitions, talks and concerts during the four-day festival founded in Havana in 1980 by Bobby Carcasses, awarded with the National Prize of Music.
The opening was huge: legendary pianist Chucho Valdes teamed with Americans Terence Blanchard and Christian McBride to give a performance described as historical and unrepeatable. “This is without rehearsal, if we do it a thousand times, a thousand times will be different”, said Chucho.
Valdes, Blanchard and McBride shared the stage for the first time and the result was a superb performance, a high-carat jam session that began with Blue Monk, a theme by American jazz legend Thelonious Monk. This peculiar trio has won 14 Grammy Award: five for Chucho, six for Terence and three fo Chris.
Earlier that day, Chucho denied that jazz was an elitist genre, claiming that it draws crowds despite the rise of other more commercial expressions, such as reggaeton.
“Jazz is the music of the world, we should not compare it with other less analytic though more commercial ones”, said the spiritual guide of generations of Cuban jazzists. Besides, McBride claimed the folk essence of jazz and admitted to have fall in love with subgenres such as blues and soul precisely because they were born from the people, and noted that jazz requires intelligence, but above all it requires soul and heart.
Blanchard, a professor at Thelonious Monk Institute, recalled that jazz arose from such a deep popular pain and suffering, that words could not express them, and highlighted its links to civil rights struggles in the United States.