Havana Jazz Festival 2018 Part One

Posted on Jan 29, 2018

I have just returned from attending the 2018 Havana Jazz Festival in Cuba which was officially named the 33rd Festival Internacional Jazz Plaza which took place from January 16th through the 21st.  I was warned about delays in shows, last minute cancellations and the lack of organization of this festival.  So I travelled to Havana prepared for the worst and hopeful for the best.  I was delighted to have been pleasantly surprised with great shows from tremendous musicians from both Cuba and abroad that ran on time at a variety of different venues.  The festival is similar to South By Southwest in the US where multiple shows are presented at the same time at different venues.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t great weather in Havana during my stay: it was wet, rainy, windy, cold and overcast for almost the entire week of the festival.  But I didn’t let that stop me for taking in the wonderful music and culture of Cuba. I was fortunate to catch the following shows during my week stay in Havana: Bobby Carcasses with guests Maraca, Yosvanny Terry, Don Poncho Terry and Roberto Carcasses, Chucho Valdes with his band and special guest Joe Lovano, Timbalaye, Pablo Menendez and Mezcla with special guest John Calloway, Edsel Gomez Triumvirate with Maraca, Pancho Amat with Javier Colina and Julio Padron, Yosvanny Terry Quintet, Pupy Y Los Que Son Son, Orquesta Aragon collaborating with Michel Herrera with special guests Alain Perez, El Noro, Maraca among others, Roberto Carcasses & Trio Salvage, Ocho Y Mas with Bobby Allende, Marc Quinones, Jimmy Bosch, Haila, Alain Perez, Alexander Abreu and Osain Del Monte, Alain Perez and Orchestra, Alejandro Falcon with special guest Michel Herrera, Ramon Valle Trio, Elito Reve Y Su Charangon, Rumberos De Cuba, the Cesar Lopez Havana Ensemble, Roberto Fonseca with special guests Eliades Ochoa, Maraca and X Alfonso. I had a phenomenal time as I discovered the city of Havana, met musicians, reunited with friends from the SF Bay who made the trip and musicians that I met in the US,  attended extraordinary concerts, researched the music, production and folklore of Cuba and connected with professionals, journalists, musicologists and the people of Cuba who shared their warmth and knowledge with me.  I will go into details of my musical adventures in my next...

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Emceeing: The Thrill Of It All

Posted on Jan 5, 2018

I have been asked to MC for tonight’s show featuring Grammy Award Winners Pacific Mambo Orchestra featuring renowned sonero Herman Olivera at Yoshi’s in Oakland.  It’s always an honor to emcee a prestigious show featuring musicians that you admire, support and actually play their music.  Emceeing is an acquired skill honed by years of experience, stage time and learning from watching the best doing their thing. Speaking for myself, it’s not just knowing what to say about the artists that you are presenting but having the knowledge of their music, history and accomplishments.  It’s also the art of presentation, knowing what to wear for the occasion and preparing your introduction.  Hopefully you’ll do it with class and a taste of show biz.  The years of experience will help you develop your own style. When you’re backstage, you’ll also have to deal with your thoughts, last minute script changes and nerves (we all get them) at the moments before you’re on stage.  That all disappears once you are focused and when you get on stage.  You take the microphone in your hand, gaze out into the bright lights and start..”Ladies and Gentlemen, Damas y...

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Con Sabor Top Picks 2017/Salsa-Latin Jazz-Musica Cubana

Posted on Dec 27, 2017

I am sharing with you my top picks in Salsa/Latin Jazz/Musica Cubana for 2017.  Here are the the picks: Doug Beavers “Art Of The Arrangement” Ruben Blades w/Roberto Delgado & Orchestra “Salsa Big Band” Javier Fernandez “The Eternal Classic 2” Eddie Palmieri “Sabiduria” Isidro Infante “Cuba y Puerto Rico: Un Abrazo Musical Salsero” Arturo Ortiz y 7 Con Calle “Cuentos De La Calle” Yumuri “Changanero” Dayme Arocena “Cubafonia” Septeto Santiaguero “Raiz” Arturo O’Farrill/Chucho Valdes “Familia” Oscar Hernandez/Alma Libre “The Art of Latin Jazz” Hilario Duran “Contumbao” Pacific Mambo Orchestra “Live At Stern Grove” Orquesta Borinquen “Pa Que Tu Lo Sepas” Los Rumberos De La Bahia...

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Benefit for Puerto Rico This Friday 12/1-Roccapulco

Posted on Nov 27, 2017

Puerto Rico continues to be in bad shape after Hurricane Maria.  There are thousands of residents still without electricity, clean water, medical supplies and food.  El Vacilon (formerly of Treasure Island) Productions is throwing a bash with great vocalists from Puerto Rico and New York this Friday evening, Dec. 1 at Roccapulco, 3140 Mission Street in San Francisco starting at 9 pm.   The show will feature internationally acclaimed recording artists Frankie Vasquez, Michael Stuart and Mel Martinez.  They will be backed up by great bands such as Karabali, Avance and Taino respectively.  Karl Perazo, timbalero and percussionist extraordinare of Santana fame will be featured with both Karabali and Avance.  DJ’s Carlitos Way and La Niche will be spinning all night in-between sets.  The suggested donation at the door is $25.  Bring your dancing shoes and get ready to sweat to support Puerto...

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