Enjoy the International Jazz and Blues Festival

By Antonio De Jesús Aguado

The most important Jazz and Blues Festival in Latin America has begun, and it features along with incredible concerts free workshops, movies and an homage to Paul Simon.

The Festival has been held for 19 years in a row, and it has become not just the most important festival of its kind in Mexico, but in all of Latin America. Antonio Lozoya, director of the festival, told Atención that currently the event attracts more than 6,000 people to the city, who daily, according to information from the SEDETUR (Secretariat of Touristic Development), spend per capita 1,300 pesos. The challenge, said Lozoya, as in any other year, is to keep growing and attract diverse audiences: young and old, Mexicans and foreigners.

Tere Utusástegui, assistant director of the festival, commented that when Lozoya started directing the Festival 13 years ago the audience was made up of 90 percent foreigners, but after Mexican jazz musicians began performing the Mexican audience started growing. Currently, the audience is made up of 40 percent Mexicans and 60 percent foreigners.

Festival Program

The organizers of the event commented that jazz and blues must not be considered music for only a specific social class, so for that reason the festival will include a didactic concert, in order to educate attendees about the world of jazz and blues.

On Friday, November 15, at 1:39pm at the Teatro Santa Ana Ingrid Beujeane will offer a free workshop entitled “The Language of Jazz and Blues.” In this workshop attendees will learn to understand the functions of every musical instrument such as the bass, drums and even the voice. Beaujean is a Mexican jazz and blues singer and currently teaches scat singing in the School of Music of the INBA (National Institute of Fine Arts).

The same day at 8pm, at Teatro Ángela Peralta Paul McAndless will perform. According to Lozoya, McAndless is one of the best oboists in the history of jazz, and he also plays several other instruments. He also has collaborated on more than 200 albums and has performed with such musicians as Jaco Pastorious, Carla Bley and Lyle Mays. In 1996 he won a Grammy for best pop instrumental with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, with whom he was a guest artist. In 2001 he received two Grammy nominations for best instrumental composition and best instrumental arrangement for “Round Robin,” the opening track of Oregon in Moscow.

On Saturday, November 16, Dennis Gruenling will give a concert at the same venue. Gruenling, a native of New Jersey, started playing the harmonica when he was young. He tracked down all the harmonica and blues song he could find and learned the best of them. After a time in New Orleans, he returned to New Jersey and gained a reputation as a rising star, playing for several bands. He has played the harmonica for more than 20 years, since his debut in 1996. Gruenling was named “Best Modern Blues Harmonica Player” three times in a row by the Real Blues Magazine.

The Festival will close with a concert by San Miguel Jazz Cats, who will pay homage to one of the major artists of pop music, Paul Simon. He, said Lozoya, does not exclusively play jazz and blues, but his music has been influenced by the style. The concert will be at the Teatro Ángela Peralta on November 17 at 8pm.

Tickets are on sale at the theater and the prices range from 80 to 250 pesos for all the concerts. The tickets can also be purchased online at www.sanmigueljazz.com.mx.

The festival was started in 1994 by Elena Shoemaker. After 19 years it is one of the most important in Mexico and Latin America.

Seven years ago, the festival was promoted mainly to residents or tourists visiting the city during November to celebrate Thanksgiving. When Lozoya started directing it, the festival was promoted across the country; before this, even aficionados of jazz and blues in Mexico were largely unaware of its existence.



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