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Cuba based rap duo, Zona Franka, blends traditional rhythms with the grit and swagger of hip-hop and rap vocal phrasings. Their clever shout choruses create instant tropical dance classics using their unique self-titled "changui con flow" style.

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JAZZ PLAZA 2024
Comments: Bill Tilford

February 14, 2024: in today's update, we chat with  jazzista/composer/bandleader Alejandro Falcón about his experiences in Jazz Plaza 2024 and his other various recent and current projects.  Then, we converse with two long-time non-musician (but knowledgeable) attendees to get an audience perspective on the events:   Kostas Polyzonis from Greece and Karen Dubinsky from Canada 
First, Alejandro Falcón in English: 

Next, Alejandro Falcón in Spanish:

Next, a taste of the forthcoming DVD Live in Havana that Alejandro mentioned during our conversations:

Next, a conversation with Kostas Polyzonis from Greece, who has been attending Jazz Plaza for many years, including a collage of videoclips that he took during the festival:

Finally, a conversation with Karen Dubinsky, a professor who works with Cuban music who has been attending for many years from Canada:


January 31, 2024: in today's update, we present informal chats with two of the participants in Jazz Plaza 2024: Pablo Menéndez, leader of Mezcla, whose group presented (with special guests) a tribute to the great bassist Cachaito, and then Zule Guerra, a rising vocalist, bandleader and composer in Cuba's jazz scene.  She did a tribute to the late, great Elis Regina from Brazil.   First, Pable Menéndez:

Here is a very short clip that Pablo shared with us from the concert: 


Next, Zule Guerra (this was done using mobile phones, and there is are technical artifacts in the video, nevertheless, what she has to say - en español - is worth hearing).:

We have not seen any concert video of her from Jazz Plaza 2024 online yet, so we are going to go to Plan B and share a clip from Jazz Plaza 2023, which has the added bonus of taking you to her YouTube channel:


January 30, 2024:  This update  covers primarily the opening gala of Jazz Plaza 2024 at the Teatro Nacional, Sala Covarrubias, Havana, Cuba, titled Amada Música, a tribute to the 50 years (and continuing) career of Joaquín Betancourt. But first, a fun fact.  The US Embassy in Havana posted up the following graphic on its Facebook page prior to the start of the festival: 


That was before the Festival.  Afterwards, Radio Havana Cuba, which would have access to official attendees by country, put the number at 92 from the United States plus several hundred from other countries for more than 600 musicians total. The US number might be even higher since some musicians always attend "under the radar". 
Producer/photographer/videographer Enrique Padron was present at the rehearsal and concert for Amada Música and gives us the following commentary followed by a collage of video clips he shared: :

More updates with musicians and attendees to come over the next several days.



JANUARY 18, 2024: JAZZ PLAZA 2024 BEGINS

Jazz Plaza begins on Sunday, January 21 in Havana and Santiago de Cuba.   The opening event in Havana includes a tribute to Joaquín Betancourt's 50 years (to date) of artistic life.  Joaquin is an important figure in both timba and jazz in Cuba, and his Joven Jazz Band has been an important big band opportunity for young Cuban jazz musicians.  A recent new video by that band is here:

Santiago's contribution has been growing every year, and it now has its own colloquium in addition to concerts.  It is, proportionally speaking,  more loaded with dance music than its Havana mother but still has an interesting roster. 
At press time I am still sorting out what will be available for viewing on line but will update here as I learn more.  Some video will definitely be available on the CREART Youtube channel. This year's slogan is "Pa' que Flujazz"


Here are the schedules as of press time (do bear in mind that some of this, as is true with all large festivals, will inevitably change). First, the concert program for Havana:

Some of the concerts in Havana outside of the main program (a few clubs in the city will feature jazz in addition to what is shown below):


The Coloquium schedule for Havana:

The schedule for Santiago de Cuba: 

As the week unfolds, I will update this section with items of interest. 

Wednesday, 14 February 2024, 06:27 PM