US Jazz Musicians Conclude Working Visit to Cuba

Repost from juventudrebelde.co.cu

A group of musicians from the world famous Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JALC) have been spending the last week in Havana where they have been putting on workshops and classes for young Cuban musicians as part of their project Metales a La Habana. The US teachers said they were impressed by student discipline, their focus and more than anything the quality. “There is talent here and it is very easy for a teacher to come and speak to students about music, because they have a solid base,” says Carlos Henríquez

By: Yelanys Hernández Fusté

Email: yelanys@juventudrebelde.cu

2011-09-13 | 12:43:59 EST
The Cubans play instruments as well, even before the fix, which motivates us to help them play a lot better, says Brian Katz.The Cubans play instruments as well, even before the fix, which motivates us to help them play a lot better, says Brian Katz.Photo: Roberto SuárezZoom

A group of musicians from the world famous Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JALC) have been spending the last week in Havana where they have been putting on workshops and classes for young Cuban musicians as part of their project Metales a La Habana.

Metales a La Habana is led by bassist Carlos Henríquez, trombonist Vincent Gardner, drummer Ali Jackson and saxofonist Victor Goines, all members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JALC). Other members of the project are musicians Robert Rodríguez and Michael Jesús Rodríguez, along with luthiers Brian Elliot Katz, David R. Gage, Kevin Scott Gillins and Jeffrey Edwin Bollbach.

Saxophonist and clarinetist Victor Goines asks a group of future professional musicians to improvise what they want to play on their instruments with their voices. The group of students, who study elementary music education in Havana, look at their teacher surprised. The exercise lasts a couple of minutes and took place on Thursday at the morning at a workshop and master class for elementary level students at the Student Residency Cultural Center at Zanja and Aramburu, Centro Habana.

The young students are surprised to hear themselves improvising jazz with their voices. “The thing is that I learned other ways to improvise and play the flute, keeping theoretical concepts in mind,” Abel Pompa Ávila, from the Alejandro García Caturla School tells us.

In the afternoon, the teachers met with students from the Amadeo Roldán Conservatory, and on Friday with students from the National School of Arts. The musicians’ visit concluded with a concert Saturday evening for students and invited musicians.

Jazz at Lincoln Center is dedicated to inspiring and growing audiences for jazz. With the world-renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and a comprehensive array of guest artists, Jazz at Lincoln Center advances a unique vision for the continued development of the art of jazz by producing a year-round schedule of performance, education and broadcast events for audiences of all ages. These productions include concerts, national and international tours, residencies, a jazz hall of fame and concert series, weekly national radio programs, television broadcasts, recordings, publications, an annual high school jazz band competition and festival, a band director academy, jazz appreciation curriculum for students, music publishing, children’s concerts and classes, lectures, adult education courses, student and educator workshops and interactive websites. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis, Chairman Lisa Schiff and Executive Director, Adrian Ellis, Jazz at Lincoln Center will produce thousands of events each season in its home in New York City, Frederick P. Rose Hall, and around the world.

The Idea

Enrique Rodríguez Toledo, from the National Center of Art Schools, told JR “This project emerged after the visit of the JALC to Havana last year and began as an idea of some of the members of that orchestra. They want to help our schools both by donating instruments and by offering master classes and bibliographical materials.”

It was on the plane ride home from Havana in October 2010 that bass player Carlos Henríquez spoke to the other musicians about his desire to come pack and share with students.

“Erick Wright, our producer began the arrangements and it has taken us a year to do it,” Henríquez told JR. «Metales a La Habana is an organization dedicated to helping bring instruments to Cuba and joins the work of the luthiers.” Metales a La Habana also included several luthiers who during their time in Havana repaired closet o 70 instruments.

Henríquez said that the many musicians in the US jumped onboard to support the initiative, “First was trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, the JALC, followed by a long list of people.”

Victor Goines said that after working years with music students around the world that the musicians in Cuba are profoundly special. He said they have a great love for music and are very human.”

Lessons in Art and Life

Carlos Henríquez notes that the methodology used to share with young musicians begins with conferences dedicated to each instrument that last 90 minutes. “Then we break up into rhythm sections for an hour and conclude with a meeting involving all participants, where we answer questions.”

The US teachers said they were impressed by student discipline, their focus and more than anything the quality. “There is talent here and it is very easy for a teacher to come and speak to students about music, because they have a solid base,” says Carlos Henríquez.

Cuban Connection

WHile in Cuba, the Metales a La Habana project donated instruments for four complete jazz orchestras, representing a value of some 70,000 dollars, to the Manuel Saumell Music School and the Guillermo Tomás and Amadeo Roldán Conservatories, and the National School of Arts.

Vice President of the Cuban Institute of Music Susana Llorente said that the donations were made to the centers that the jazz musicians visited last year.

Musician Carlos Henríquez said that they have one objective, “We have to continue these efforts, as I said during our first visit, because exchanges are what help to keep building bridges.”

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