The Cuba Jazz Festival Is Coming Soon

October 21, 2016 |

By Irina Echarry

Preparando para Jazz Plaza 2016. Ilustración por Carlos

Getting ready for Cuba’s Jazz Plaza 2016. Illustration by Carlos

HAVANA TIMES — The 32nd edition of the Jazz Plaza Festival will be held from December 15-18, now with a new venue: Santiago de Cuba, which will co-host this musical event, along with Havana.

This time, the influence of jazz within dance will be explored with performances from the Irene Rodríguez and Lizt Alfonso dance companies, as well as the Cuban National Ballet. Meetings between famous artists and students from various at schools have also been announced; as well as the usual workshops, exhibitions, jam sessions and concerts.

Musicians from Argentina, Spain, Venezuela, the US, Colombia, Australia, the Dominican Republic, Holland and Cuba will convert our nights into jazz parties, giving us the gift of the most contemporary trends on the global jazz scene.

Invited artists include Terence Blanchard´s E-Collective, from the US, who will perform alongside Cuba’s Chucho Valdés; and the long-awaited Ivory Coast singer and French resident, Fatoumata Diawara, who will share the stage with our young pianist and composer Roberto Fonseca.

The Family Laws, Rachel Flowers, the pianist Randy Weston and Arturo O´Farrill, as well as TK Band, Millikin University Latin Jazz and Chapman Roberts will also all come from the US.

In Santiago de Cuba, a city that has a great jazz scene, the Iris Jazz Club and Sala Dolores will open their doors to co-host this event. Meanwhile, it will continue to be held in its normal venues in Havana: La Zorra y El Cuervo; Pabellón Cuba, Casa de la Cultura de Plaza and the Mella Theater. Each city will have an honorary chairman: the maestro Chucho Valdes will be in charge of the festival in the Cuban capital and Roberto Fonseca will manage it at the country’s eastern base.

Ever since 1980 when Bobby Carcasses created the Jazz Plaza Festival, excellent artists within jazz have passed trough our country, this year we’ll have many to choose from: Third World, from Jamaica, Stefan Jonson, from Sweden; Michel and his Latin Jazz Band, from Colombia; Canadian Doug Martin, Michaela Rabitsch Quartet, from Austria; Dion Parson & 21th Century Band, from the Virgin Islands; and Supernova Jazz Trio, from Argentina, to name a few.

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  • Moses Patterson

    For those regular commenters to Havana Times who have accused me of NEVER having anything positive to say on this blog, let me be very clear. I have been an aficionado of jazz for 40 years. I have traveled to jazz festivals all over the world. The Cuban Jazz Festival held every year, based upon the criteria of very affordable access to high quality jazz, is among the best in the world. I commend the Castro dictatorship for allowing this event to be held year after year relatively free of politics. Cuba does well for itself by hosting this event.

    • dani

      I’m a big fan of jazz and also (allegedly) an amateur jazz musician. Scary, but we probably have a lot in common.

      • Moses Patterson

        Yeah, pretty scary.

  • Vicktor Skarsgard

    So will any remnant of this festival be in Havana?

    • editorht

      Yes most will be in Havana but there will also be a co-venue in Santiago. The actual schedule itself of performances won’t be available probably until shortly before the event.

  • Brenda

    Hi. Is there a way to access the actual schedule now? I will need to change an airline ticket to stay longer but I really would love to see Fatoumata Diawara is playing with Roberto Fonseca in the Havana Jazz Festival. It wil be a wonderful show. Thanks.

    • editorht

      Dear Brenda, the Jazz Plaza Festival is notorious for not having the schedule out till just a few days before it begins. Taking into account your interest I suggest you try to contact Roberto Fonseca via FB. Send him a message.

      • Brenda

        Gracias. I have sent a message to him and to Jazz Plaza people.
        We shall see :)

  • Brenda

    The official webpage, it seems:

  • Loretta

    Where can I purchase tickets or passes for the festival. Can I purchase online or ahead of the festival as I arrive in Havana Dec 1 and want to get tickets or passes for Dec 15-18. Thank you

    • editorht

      32 Festival Internacional Jazz Plaza 2016
      Del 15 al 18 de diciembre de 2016.
      Write to these addresses: The event is sponsored by the Centro Nacional de Músic Popular and the Cuban Music Institute.

      Telephone: 72024232

      If you do not get a reply get back to us!

    • Loretta

      Thank you for your quick response. One person replied and provided a phone number to call when we arrive. Do these organizations have office locations that may be selling the festival tickets at when we arrive Dec 2? We will feel better knowing we have tickets or passes then and not wait until Dec 15 if it’s too late then and sold out???

      • editorht

        The Jazz Festival events are almost never sold out, and in the past they’ve only sold advance tickets at some of the venues and that the week beforehand. You are getting there 2 weeks in advance and should have no problem. They usually don’t have the final program until a few days before the event (juggling musician late arrivals, cancels and plane complications) begins so you wouldn’t want to buy your tickets so far in advance anyhow. Your best bet is to get to Cuba and then ask the person who responded to you as they instructed.