Two things not to miss! The 38th Havana Film Festival and the Havana International Jazz Festival…
THE Havana International Jazz Festival was born in 1978 when Bobby Carcasses, and other well known Cuban Jazz musicians, presented the first Jazz concert at the Casa de la Cultura de Plaza in downtown Havana. This is the origin of the name, ‘International Jazz Festival Plaza’ because it premiered in the open-air venue. The Casa de la Cultura de Plaza hall, with its pleasant, intimate outdoor terrace is still one of the places where concerts and jam sessions take place. Based on this success, another Jazz festival was organized the following year, featuring pianist Chucho Valdes. Renowned artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Charlie Haden, Roy Hargrove, Jack De Johnette, and Danilo Perez became part of the Havana scene on a regular basis. The festival’s founder, Bobby Carcasses, was born in Kingston, Jamaica, into a Cuban family. Carcasses moved back to Cuba aged four, where he was surrounded by the various forms of local music. He started out as an opera singer before switching to Cuban music and working as a vocalist at the famous Tropicana nightclub. It was there that he first began to experiment with incorporating scat and bebop influences into his vocal style. By 1960 he was also known as a multi-instrumentalist (playing trumpet, bass, congas and drums). He would later start the festival as a showcase of Cuban excellence in Jazz.
In 1996 Chucho Valdes became its artistic director and president of the Organizing Committee. The festival has since expanded to include all the main concert halls in downtown Havana, not to mention impromptu street jam sessions along the Malecon.
(The festival runs from January 14th to the 22nd, 2018)