A continuous conversation of generations began between the 40s and 50s of the last century, when the distinguished jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie recognized that in Cuban music, specifically Afro-Cuban music, there were elements closely linked to jazz. This affirmation motivated the birth of an intergenerational and intercultural dialogue with Cuban artists that today mocks the linguistic and geographical borders.
Arturo O'Farrill, outstanding pianist and composer, son of Chico, another of the great exponents of Jazz of all time, arrived in Cuba once again with the perpetual idea of weaving bridges of understanding through culture, and for that he arrived in the largest of the Antilles with members of his project The Afro Latin Jazz Alliance Alja Education, young students of music from New York who have found in Cuban music more than one reason to get closer to the culture and people of the Antilles. This project led by the pianist, composer and teacher, Arturo O'Farrill and his son Zack O'Farrill grows as a vital exercise that was affirmed with excellence in this recent visit.
From Jazz to Son
According to Arturo, there would be no jazz if Cuba did not exist, if this Island had not given the world so much generic wealth, so much mixture and fusion recognized. That is why we believe that our young people - if they are interested in finding their own roots - have to know what Cuba is, and what it means musically for the rest of the nations. Because to get to Cuba is to look for your own roots, and find them in an authentic way.
The first didactic-type concert of these young guests took place at the Bertolt Brecht Theater. For the occasion, they performed songs such as Almendra, Habana Plus (versions by Chico O'Farril), Elogio del tambor, El Sur, written by Arturo O Farrill; while a guest singer, Nora Cabo, assumed the well-known theme of Violeta Parra, Volver a los diecisiete. A presentation that covered a wide musical spectrum, where talent and aesthetic quality prevailed. For this reason, the second bet won in favor of music was to go the next day to the city of Matanzas to meet an emblematic group from the Athens of Cuba: Los Muñequitos de Matanzas.
Good Rumba ...
The visitors- taking the splendid sun that floods the largest island in the Caribbean these days - arrived in Matanzas; they knew the significance of the slave route as a conformation of the musical essence of this country. They also visited sites of historical and cultural value in the city and shared with those who are immense sap of Cuban folkloric and popular potential: the musical project. Los Muñequitos de Matanzas
Movement, sensuality, unsurpassed dynamics, Los Muñequitos de Matanzas have managed to bequeath that respect for the most genuine roots of Afro-Cuban music; therefore, the colophon of the visit resulted in everyone, as a family, drum beat, enjoy good rumba.
Excellent preamble so that in the next day could be formed an immense band.
A huge band was born
One of the prizes to the young winners of the program La Banda Gigante, the most recent participation space of Cuban television, was to share with a prestigious Jazz Band. And the opportunity was born in the Hostal de Tejadillo, located in the historic center of the capital.
The members of La Banda Gigante participated in a valuable day with the project The Afro Latin Jazz Alliance Alja Education, in addition to sharing the stage with Arturo O'Farrill, his son Zack O'Farrill and musicians from Arturo's own orchestra.
It was an unforgettable afternoon. An immense band was born that, according to Arturo O'Farrill, was the best affirmation that through music all the ugly that the current government of the United States proposes against Cuba is broken. When you listen to all these young people who just met, the races, the money are erased, and they only send the feelings.
I met the Cuban guys from La Banda Gigante when they were still in competition, today they are others, much more mature musically, but the best, I'm sure they are better human beings because music sensitizes, bring people together. And I am convinced that our children have changed life for the better, because they have been in a detoxified environment, away from other goods that are not the ones that music gives them as their chosen ones.
It is not only the title of a famous Cuban song, it is, moreover, the spirit of an encounter that met expectations. New experiences were lived and the balance was in favor of music as a source of life. It was a valuable transit for both nations and for the new managers of melodies in coming times, those that will give other reasons for satisfaction, sure that there is a faithful, free and valid path that can be crossed from jazz to sound.