Jazz Plaza 2015 kicks off in Havana today with opening gala fusing American and Cuban jazz

Posted: 17-Dec-15 17:24

The 31st edition of the Jazz Plaza Festival officially kicks off today in Havana and will take over the capital for three days of non-stop quality music performed by a host of invited foreign jazzists as well as renowned, award-winning Cuban jazz stars and younger rising jazz stars from the island and beyond. To start things off, tonight's opening gala will be led by Ernan Lopez Nussa and his trio who will perform alongside U.S. group The Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Jazz Plaza 2015 kicks off in Havana today with opening gala fusing American and Cuban jazz

Jazz performers from over a dozen countries around the globe will participate in this year’s edition of the Havana Jazz Plaza Festival (Festival Internacional Jazz Plaza, La Habana).

The first performance kick-starting the three-day event (from 17th to 20th December) tonight at Teatro Mella and featuring a much-awaited collaboration between a world-famous and award-winning Cuban solo performer - Ernan Lopez Nussa - and his trio and The Preservation Hall Jazz Band; a legendary US jazz group famous for having performed New Orleans’ traditional jazz style for over 50 years.

The festival’s opening ceremony starts at 8:30 p.m. local time and will be followed by several other performances panning out over the space of three days.

Highlights will include the performances of Habana Ensemble and saxophonist Cesar Lopez on Friday 18th December, American percussionist, Robbie Amin and just before the festival comes to an end.

One of the most awaited and highly publicised performances will take place on Saturday 19th December, as lead guitarist from the US rock band ZZ Top, Billy Gibbons takes to the stage to perform some of his latest afro-Cuban inspired tunes, which feature heavily on his recently released album, Perfectamundo (a solo production that pays tribute to Cuban jazz).

Other heavyweights from the giant northern neighbour performing in the 31st edition of Havana, include, most notably, Kenny G (although no details of his performance have been made public yet), Steve Turre, Arthur O’Farrill, the Will Magid Trio, Friends University Jazz Band and Jimmy Sommers, many of whom will be performing in conjunction with local Cuban jazzists.

And where to catch all of this jazz action? Well, you’ll have to check the listings locally to find out what’s on each evening at the following venues (official hosts of this year’s festival): Casa de la Cultura del Municipio Plaza, the Fabrica de Arte Cubano (FAC), Teatro Mella, Centro Cultural Bertolt Brecht, Pabellon Cuba, Café Miramar, Teatro America and Salon Rosado Benny More.

I’ve listed them here in order of importance, with the first of them hosting the largest number of acts as the rightful home of jazz where it all started 31 years ago. You can read up a bit more on the event and find a link to the full programme in my weekly blog of events listing the latest, hottest things going on in Cuba.


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