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International Jazz Day in Lakeside

International Jazz Day at the Casa Musica recording studio in Ajijic Mexico with Juan Castanon and the IJT

Jazz has been a perennial favorite in the Lakeside area of central Mexico,  south of Guadalajara, Mexico,  partially because there is a large pool of world-class jazz talent here and partially because…well, just because. So International Jazz Day (and week) is a big deal. There were way too many concerts for me to go to, so I will highlight one I did make it to.

But first, a little background if you are not a jazz aficionado or keep up with internationally declared holidays.

International Jazz Day is a global celebration of jazz music that takes place every year on April 30th. It was established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2011 to raise awareness of the role jazz music can play in promoting peace, dialogue, and mutual understanding in the world. The idea was proposed by jazz pianist and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock in 2011 and launched with the help of a partnership with UNESCO in partnership with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.

Since then, International Jazz Day has been celebrated worldwide with concerts, educational programs, and other events that promote jazz music and its cultural heritage. Lakeside is no exception. Jazz guitarist Juan Castañón organized three jazz concerts, the  Lake Chapala Society brought two Billboard-charted jazz singers for an afternoon of jazz and cabaret, and one of region’s best jazz quartets, Triálogo, appeared for an evening concert at the LaCochera Cultural art center with resident saxophone player Eleazar “Chuco” Soto,  and the  Black Sapphire Jazz Trio was at  La Estación in Riberas del Pilar, to name a few.

The talent was truly international and truly stunning. This weekend’s concerts featured prize-winning talent from Mexico, Venezuela, and Cuba. Luminaries included PostModern Jukebox co-founder Adriana Savala who tours the world playing and promoting jazz, Downbeat Magazine’s  Jazz student Award  winner Robert Verastegui who also captured Second Place in the Phillips Jazz Piano competition, and Carolina Mercado  who was the first woman to win top honors at the Pan American National Jazz Orchestra competition. Plus, over at the Lake Chapala Society, CBS TV Star Search finalist Spencer Day who  stayed on Billboard’s Jazz Charts at #11 for 47 weeks joined Savala for a show that could have played in Vegas.

Highlight of the weekend for me was the International Jazz Trio at Estudio Casa Musica, a recording studio and small venue overlooking the Lake. The trio is made up of guitarist Juan Castañón, pianist Ronald Rivero, and Freddy Adrián on electric bass. Casa Musica is surrounded by a lawn overlooking the lake where fans can wander with a glass of wine, enjoy the view, and listen to the notes streaming through the open sliding glass patio doors.

The IJT gave us their own versions of Cole Porter, Fats Waller, and Duke Ellington among others, and their own original music. Every note was perfect and totally unbound, flowing naturally like the soft wind outside the open doors and windows. The music and attitude and the whole scene were relaxed the way classic jazz should be. Castanón is a virtuoso jazz guitarist without peer and you could tell that he and Rivero and Adrian were having fun doing what they love and what the Mexican and Expat audience loved.

UNESCO established International Jazz Day to bring people of different nations together through music. It certainly succeeded here in Lakeside.

Patrick O’Heffernan



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About Patrick O'Heffernan, Music Sin Fronteras (442 Articles)
Patrick O’Heffernan, PhD., is a music journalist based in Mexico, with a global following. He focuses on music in English and Spanish that combines rock and rap, blues and jazz and pop with music from Latin America, especially Mexico like cumbia, banda, son jarocho, and mariachi. He is also edits a local news website and is a subeditor of a local Spanish language newspaper. Check out his weekly column Music Sin Frontera on Sunday nights.

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