Local Musicians Embark on US Tour

By Rebecca Wright

On Saturday, June 18, the members of Latin jazz trio Jazzoneando—Alberto “Yamil” Vázquez (piano), Kimani Carrazana (percussion and vocals), and Aarón Romo (bass and vocals)—will settle into an old Ford SUV for a four-day drive to St. Paul, Minnesota, where the ensemble has been invited to perform at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival 2016.

Packing little more than their toothbrushes (Minnesota sponsor Groth Music Company will provide all the instruments they need), the trio will snooze on the road after playing until 3am at Mama Mia. They’re looking forward to the trip and, by 5pm or so, the first glimpse of America for the two Cubans in the group. (Romo, originally from Mexico City and a resident of San Miguel de Allende since 1998, has played on Minnesota stages and helped to organize the tour.)

The Jazzoneando “Caminando Tour” has been six months in the planning and will cost almost as much as the group stands to earn, but it will convey a new level of prestige upon the three musicians, who have already earned international credits by touring in Cuba and in Europe but are as yet unknown in the US.

“Once they hear Jazzoneando, they won’t forget us,” said composer, director, and pianist Vázquez. The group will perform original compositions along with original arrangements of traditional Cuban tunes. Their recently produced CD “Jazzoneando” will be sold in Twin Cities stores and at performances.

To earn money performing in the US, foreign musicians must obtain a special visa that involves a more costly and time-consuming application process than a tourist visa and has many more restrictions. Most artists hire a lawyer, but in this case the bass player’s girlfriend, Anne Nicolai, did the honors.

 

“It’s been a nail-biter, but we’ve got the visas in hand and we’re on our way,” said Nicolai, who filled out a 36-page application on behalf of each musician and solicited sponsors to help pay the fees. Nicolai also obtained recommendation letters from Doc Severinsen, Ken Basman, and other world-touring musicians, as well as from the American Federation of Musicians and a California-based jazz music critic who endorsed the group after listening to their CD. A Minnesota native, Nicolai will play the roles of chauffeur, road manager, publicist, and tour guide during the two-week road trip.

The Twin Cities Jazz Festival draws tens of thousands of fans (more than 40,000 last year) to 30 venues in Minnesota’s capital city, St. Paul. Festival organizers placed Jazzoneando in the spotlight on Friday, June 24, at Mears Park, the central venue of the Festival, featuring headliners Delfeayo Marsalis, Ellis Marsalis, Russell Malone, and John Pizzarelli, among others.

Other Minnesota engagements include a concert with jazz singer Katia Cardenas, a music club performance, a benefit event at Minnesota’s famous Surly Brewery, a concert with the Twin Cities Latin Jazz Orchestra, and a series of Latin Rhythms Mini-Clinics at Jazz Central Studios, a center for jazz education and performance.

For more information about Jazzoneando, visit http://jazzoneando.wordpress.com.

 

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