Mestizaje: jazz as a main course

Mestizaje: jazz as a main course



With a little over 25 years in existence, the Matanzas-based group Mestizaje has been faithful to the principles for which it was founded: to cultivate jazz, for being a very complete and all-encompassing way of interpreting music; very spiritual and liberating. That is the opinion of the group’s director, the outstanding musician Miguel Ángel Rodríguez Zulueta, better known as “Miguelón”, who was its founder and since that time in 1993 until now has strived to carry out his project.

Meztizaje, jazz as a main course

In an interview granted to CubaPLUS Magazine, Miguelón spoke at length about his love for that musical genre and expressed: “Jazz for me is the most beautiful way to escape from the everyday world. It keeps me alive, it constantly renews my desire for selfimprovement. It restarts me. It is the man escaped from himself. An elevation of my soul”.

It is precisely his passion for jazz that made it possible to create the group and keep it alive, since the instability of its members has seen it have several formats: quintet, quartet, until the current one, which in addition to him as director and percussionist, is made up of Tony González (piano, composer and arranger) and Roger Reina (bass guitar and composer). We have, he noted, always respected the repertoire that identifies the band.

Meztizaje, jazz as a main course

In response to a question about the reason for the group’s name Mestizaje, he said: “My group is called Mestizaje because our work has as its hallmark the mixture of colors and spirits implicit not only in jazz, but also in Cuban music, which plays an important role in our interpretations. Fusing, mixing, playing with that extensive and very rich range make Mestizaje a unique group”.

During all these years, the band has always characteristically performed themes and jazz standards of renowned musicians such as Miles Davis, Chucho Valdés, Sonny Rollins and Chick Corea, among others. Miguelón explained that in their concerts the group has been accompanied by outstanding soloists and instrumentalists of Cuban music and jazz, including Pucho López, José María Vitier, Rolando Pérez Pérez, Bobby Carcasés, Portillo, José Díaz Moreno “Pepe”, Pablo Menéndez, Lindiana Murfy, Lázaro Manuel Morúa, Carlos Álvarez, Camila Rode, Alberto Lescay, Orquesta Casino Bellamar, AfroCuba and Los Muñequitos de Matanzas.

Among its upcoming projects is to participate in the fourth Matanzas Jazz Festival, scheduled to be held online due to the situation caused by the new coronavirus, which prevents the staging of mass entertainment.

Likewise, the group is considering the possibility of a three-month tour in Panama City, as long as the epidemiological conditions allow it.

Another of its most important projects, he said, is “to continue rescuing this genre in our province —Matanzas—, so that young people become interested in it and continue the legacy”.