By Diana Ferreiro and Rachel D. Rojas
At six o'clock on Sunday morning, Alexander Abreu, sweating with jets, trembling on stage, resists cutting the choirs and finishing the song that will close almost ten hours in a row of concerts. Alexander asks who wants dawn, and the thousands who sweat and dance here shout yes, uhh, and ahh, and Alexander throws another choir and sends him to walk over the mambo. Havana D´Primera is the eighth band to parade through the most luxurious stages line up of the Varadero Josone Festival 2019. Tonight, I mean. Because since last Thursday 22 the music has not rested in this park. And it doesn't seem to have intentions to do it. Since that day - even before, on the beach, with Telmary and a pre-festival party - twenty-six bands have been programmed in four nights and two stages.
Hours before the audience did not scream so much or dance or dream about the possibility of sunrise at a concert. Hours before the public - mostly national - was sitting in the grass, or drinking Cristal or Buccaneer while waiting. And just this Saturday he had to wait a little longer. Only the poster of that day merited it: the very young Todo Incluido, winners of the last JoJazz, Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, the Venezuelan band Quintero´s Latin Jazz Project, Eme Alfonso, Buena Fe, Descemer Bueno, Pupy y Los que Son Son, and, closing, Havana D´Primera.
Chaired by Issac Delgado, and organized from Egrem, the second round of the Varadero Josone Festival: Rumba, Jazz & Son has arrived to say that a music festival of this magnitude can be made, and it can be that beautiful. Las palmas, it is said from the beginning, for the production (Verónica de la Torre, Lilian Triana and Amalia Rojas), the sound (PMM), the artistic direction (Lester Hamlet) and the programming design (Issac Delgado, the musical head of the event). In addition to the sound grazing with the impeccable during all the presentations - in the end - we must mention the work of the communication team, the excellent performance of the technical-artistic gear: articulation between concerts, respect for the time allocated to each band (except for rare exceptions) , screens, light design and, above all, the artists' poster. The quality of the music that was heard and danced there until very high hours of the morning was undoubtedly the greatest achievement of this festival.
Jazz and rumba open the roads
From the name of the festival the genres that the event would cover were announced (one more than the previous year, in which it was promoted as Jazz & Son), although they were not the only ones that were present. Jazz opened every day, from experienced artists such as Emilio Vega y Su Paso Al Frente, who opened the concerts on the 22nd, to bands that start (Todo Incluido), or those who mark the passage of contemporary Cuban jazz today - and on Sunday they showed why—, like Gastón Joya & The New Cuban Trio: a tiny but effective all-stars with Rodney Barreto in the drums, Héctor Quintana on the guitar, Adrián Estévez (in rapid ascent, record this name) on the piano, and Gastón, Of course. Quintero´s Latin Jazz Project, would put the international note a little later on Saturday on the big stage, together with the fusion of Kono and Los Chicos de Cuba, of traditional Japanese music with Latin jazz and Cuban native rhythms.
The Peruvian Eva Ayllón was another one that arrived, in addition to her music, her stories. "I promise not to cry," he warned as he told the scene of his parents dancing almost in the same crockery, so close. Dancing the song with which he thrills everything alive in that park, and that was also a tribute to the Bárbaro del Ritmo in his centenary. Slipped Cómo fue in a serious voice, without an accent, as the bolero almost always comes out, which is another language, a universal one.
The rumba, meanwhile, had less prominence, being sparsely represented by Yoruba Andabo and Los Muñequitos de Matanzas (who doubled Saturday and Sunday), from Cuba, and the spectacular Weedie Braimah, from Ghana, surprise on Friday night. Of course, each of the red-hot concerts; they forced everyone to shake their arms and shake their hips and make Josone a giant key that sounded more or less pa pa pau pa paAnd those guapería choirs that say, for example, that the rumba is not danced in pullas, that the rumba is danced in Converse..
And then there is Alain Pérez, who arrives, takes possession of the stage, of the instruments - of almost everyone -, and with La Orquesta he interprets son, rumba, and jazz, sounding like the very gods of music, which some must-have. Alain is, at the same time, delight for the ears and joy for the dancer. A multi-instrumentalist, with that sonero voice old schoolAlain is modest and wild at the same time. Josone's audience knew it — or understood it right away — and grabbed the pace of what was predicted, and it was one of the big concerts of that day.
Everyone who wants health with his hand for heaven
It looked like a leitmotivIf the majority of the musicians who paraded through the main stage - and also the smallest - had agreed, that phrase, like a slogan, or an identity projection of an elementary desire for well-being would not have flowed out like this: " Everyone who wants health with his hand to heaven! " Hand for the sky, and waist down.
For a few minutes, your body was feeling a feeling of euphoria, cut off by the fact that from that precise moment until the end of the night there would be no disappointment. Haila María Mompié had just taken the stage with her musicians. She, who would not have to do anything else in the world to sing, is one of the few women who today leads a band in that mostly masculine terrain that has been popular dance music in Cuba. And she puts you in a proud chorus:All I have is mine, there is nothing here borrowed, I have earned everything, so be very careful. ”
On Thursday's schedule there was nothing more and nothing less than the presentations of Los Van Van and Los Cuatro. Hence that euphoria. There would be no potholes in that feelingbut a rage in crescendo of timba and reggaeton.
With El Niño y La Verdad something different happened. In a fabulous transition, the Buena Vista high school kid we remembered, a long skinny guy who was riding his guitar all the time, and probably the only student who attended all class of Music Education, suddenly appeared hitting a tumba'o behind another one during the last night, now turned into Emilito Frías, now nothing skinny, with the same sonero voice and a talent grown for improvisation. Now he spoke to his audience, with jokes, with neighborhood codes, saying that the most important thing is that people have a culture. "Point there."
Almost all the musicians who went through the stages this year, by the way, honored Benny Moré in his centenary. Something that produces pride, in the same way, that the errors of the presenters sometimes cause other people's shame.
Josone sounded to dance music and people danced with top-notch orchestras. With a poster that added - in addition to the aforementioned bands - Pupy y Los que Son Son, Paulo FG, Adalberto Álvarez y Su Son or Issac Delgado himself, it was easy to expect a good event. Luckily for us, the producers made sure it was. We clap again.
Pleasant surprises and others not so much
Divan. Sunday closing and festival closing. Very successful in everything: when choosing and placing in a set list when choosing and placing in a set list the songs for an hour of show, when calibrating the energy of the public, and in the musical (yes, in the musical). Live, Divan sounds great, something that, for example, can not boast Descemer Bueno, disappointing in each performance. A pity of beautiful songs (of his authorship) battered in his voice.
Not so Francisco Céspedes, who again offered the Cuban public a beautiful concert (past time, which we thanked, the organizers not so much), with impeccable interpretations that made one turn to anyone and say: look that time has passed and hears the voice of that guy!
Rodney Barreto everywhere. The mastery with which he takes possession of drums, it doesn't matter who he's playing with: Rodney Barreto with Gastón Joya, Rodney with Pancho Céspedes and with Havana D´Primera. Putting it as it goes.
The organization of the park to receive those four days of music was another pleasant surprise. The location of both scenarios, as well as the areas of drink and food (with offers for Cuban public: cold national beer at 1 CUC, for example, urban legend in these times), souvenirs, and musical products of the protagonists of the concerts ; made the enjoyment of the festival even more enjoyable. Festival that was, in itself, the biggest of the good surprises, along with the news that it returns next year. August twenty, for those who like to mark dates and plan. A whole year we have for it.