November Arrived with Jazz and Blues

By Jesús Aguado

The call to enjoy in this festival—starting on Wednesday, November 11, and ending on Sunday, November 15—is open to all those who are willing to sing, dance, have fun, and dream of jazz and blues.

In 1994 Elena Shoemaker started the International Jazz and Blues Festival, which 21 years later is considered to be one of the most important of its kind in Mexico. Antonio Lozoya, who has participated in this festival for 19 years, six of them as director, said that the festival was launched “due to the proliferation of jazz music in this bohemian and artistic city.” Lozoya, who began participating in the Festival as a musician, then later as art director and director, commented that over the years “the festival has developed a particular personality; every year there are innovations and new experiences that consolidate the event in all senses.”

The Jazz and Blues Festival originally—and until nine years ago—was mainly geared toward residents and visitors in the city who came to celebrate Thanksgiving with their relatives here. According to Lozoya, when he became director of the event he targeted promotion beyond the city and the country because “there were many people, in Mexico City for example, who are jazz lovers, but they did not even know after 12 years that there was a festival like this in the country. For that reason, we also tried to promote the festival internationally, and it has grown impressively.”

The concerts

This year the International Jazz and Blues Festival will have two venues—Ángela Peralta Theater and Miguel Malo Auditorium at Bellas Artes on Hernández Macías. The festival will open at the Ángela Peralta Theater, featuring the Steve Koven Jazz Trío. Scott McCook, first Secretary of Public Affairs, Embassy of Canada in México, wrote that “the trio made a remarkable demonstration of why Canadian jazz is truly world class.” Rolling Stone magazine (Asia) once published that “the Steve Koven Trio represents the healthy future of jazz.”

Pianist Koven is accompanied by Anthony Michellini (drums) and Rob Clutton (bass). Formed in 1993, the trio has performed across the world and have become ambassadors of Canadian culture. Well received by the audience, the group has released nine CDs, with several themes, like Live at the Senator (1997). Some of their compositions have been soundtracks for films and television productions. Besides performing world-wide, Koven offers piano solo concerts in North America, Europe, and the Caribbean. The tickets for this concert, on Wednesday, November 11, are available at the theater box office. Prices go from 150 to 350 pesos.

The first time King Solomon Hicks came to Mexico last year, it was to San Miguel, and the ovation from the audience was so tremendous that the organizers of the festival invited him again so more music lovers could enjoy  this showman’s performance. He plays the guitar in a special, unique way, close to the attendees. King Solomon will perform on Thursday, November 12, at 7:30 pm in the Ángela Peralta Theater. Tickets are available at the box office.

“He brings a fresh blues project; he plays guitar and sings,” said Antonio Lozoya. King Solomon Hicks is a 19-year-old American who started playing the guitar at six. Solomon has captivated audiences, and he recorded an album at the age of 14 with the Cotton Club All Stars Band (celebrities from the Cotton Club in New York). In the United States he has performed on radio and television shows and onstage, including at the United Nations, the US Open, Gracie Mansion—attended by the New York mayor and other federal politicians—and he has performed for jazz pianist, Dr. Billy Taylor.

On Friday, November 13, at 8 pm, the Danny Mark Blues Band will have its turn at the Miguel Malo Auditorium. The band from Canada is headed by Marks, who is also a radio announcer. For his experience in music and its promotion of it, Danny Marks was given the Blues with a Feeling Award by the Toronto Blues Society. Marks is well known, since he was part of The Whiskey Sour band. In the early 60s, Mark and Edward Bear started the band The Bear and signed a contract with Capitol Records A&R, becoming one of the most popular bands in Canada with their single “You, Me and Mexico.” Danny is starting his fifth season as radio announcer at Bluz FM, Toronto. This concert is to benefit Patronato Pro Niños. Tickets are on sale at La Conexión, 400 pesos.

Canadian, Mexican, Cuban, and American singers and musicians will gather to pay homage to the legends of blues with the base band San Miguel Jazz Cats. The concert will take place on Saturday, November 14, at the Ángela Peralta Theater. Tickets go from 150-400 pesos. The Festival will close at the Auditorio Miguel Malo on Sunday, November 15, at 7 pm with Hernández-Thompson from Cuba and will benefit FAI (Organization for Children’s Support).

Movies

The Festival will also feature three free movies at the Auditorium (Wednesday November 11, Friday 13, and Sunday 15). The movies are: The Benny Goodman Story, a movie that, if it does not exactly tell the life of the King of Swing from 10 years old until his presentation at the Carnegie Hall in 1938, has great collaboration and music. Goodman is the most popular clarinetist of all times, and the movie is based on problems he faced to popularize his music and the love he had for a society woman. The story includes members of his band, Gene Krupa, Teddy Wilson, and Lionel Hampton.

The Glenn Miller Story is a biography of Glenn Miller, featuring jazz and blues by musicians like Gene Krupa and Louis Armstrong besides Miller recordings (“Moonlight Serenade,” “In the Mood,” and “Over the Rainbow”). The film tells of Miller’s relationship with love as well as the intense battle he faced to create and popularize a new musical style in an age when only the big orchestras succeeded.

Crossroads is a movie that tells the life of Robert Johnson, who was murdered in 1938. It has been said that he recorded 29 songs in just one day and since then he has become a myth.

 

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