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Luxury guests shine at Mastercard JazzFest ’22

“I have always felt that, particularly instrumental music, it allows people to travel to a place where there are no words… where there is a particular beauty that transports us. Whether it’s touching their emotions or connecting with something much bigger than themselves, I hope that when people listen to our music or come to see us, they have the opportunity to share this with us. That’s the glorious part of being a musician.” – Jay Beckenstein, founder and director of Spyro Gyra

On Friday, after a painful break of 5 years, the multiple meanings that an international jazz festival has for the cultural management of this always surprising Caribbean island were recovered. For the occasion, the experienced producer and jazz musician, Luis Álvarez, joined Paco López, to present three days of good music at the Coca-Cola Music Hall, a modern auditorium that is part of the T-Mobile District in Miramar.

Puerto Rico’s MasterCard JazzFest ’22 -which is also sponsored by the German brand Heineken- began with a concert by the outstanding Latin jazz trumpeter, pedagogue, composer and businessman Charlie Sepúlveda, together with his musical workshop since 1991, The Turnaround .

This concert, in turn, recalled the presentation of the CD “This is Latin Jazz”, which was recorded live in February 2020 at Dizzy’s Club. This is part of the iconic Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York. The original production for the High Note Records label featured his wonderful instrumental sextet The Turnaround and special guests, who also adorned this presentation on Friday in Puerto Rico.

The opening show began on time, after a false start where the sound of the bass was missing, with the traditional format of the themes and very successful variations of the soloists in the improvisational language, characteristic of the genre.

Maestro Sepúlveda himself shone with his melodious trumpet, professor Norberto Ortiz (director of the Conservatory’s Department of Jazz and Caribbean Music) on tenor saxophone, as well as pianist Richard Trinidad. Also outstanding in the accompaniment with interaction and virtuoso solos were the outstanding local musicians of international projection, the educators Gabriel Rodríguez on the electric bass and Francisco Alcalá, who makes the drums sing the tuning of his drums and cymbals, and the splendid conga player, Gadwin Vargas.

Some outstanding guest artists contributed musicality and stage presence to the presentation: Mayagüez flutist Néstor Torres; the legendary American trumpeter Randy Brecker; Puerto Rican singer Natalia Mercado in a subtle version of the Latin American standard Alfonsina y el mar, by the Argentine composer revered for his Misa Criolla, Ariel Ramírez; the award-winning composer and saxophonist Miguel Zenón; and slide trombone (and snail) star Steve Turré.

After enjoying the extensive comforts of this concert hall during the intermission, the public was able to rejoice in listening to the art of the legendary jazz and funk fusion band, Spyro Gyra, founded more than 40 years ago in the city of Buffalo. , upstate New York.

Master Jay Beckenstein’s concept of alloying styles (“fusion” in English) manifested itself in his capacity for expression on his soprano and alto saxophones, together with the other experienced instrumentalists of his quintet where they look immense, both in conversation and in performance. their respective solos the electric guitarist of Cuban origin Julio Fernández, Tom Schumann on keyboards, along with the excellent bassist Scott Ambush and drummer Lionel Cordew.

They delighted the large audience that gathered there with their compositions “Groovin’ for Grover”, “Old San Juan”, “Cockatoo”, “De la luz”, “Dancing on Table Mountain” and “Tempted”. As a gift they added “Walk the Walk” to the program to close this universal celebration of the human being’s ability to create melodies, harmonies, polyphonies and rhythms that produce well-being and refresh ideas and life.

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