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AMERICANS DISCOVER CUBAN JAZZ



AMERICANS DISCOVER CUBAN JAZZ

AMERICAN FAMILY IN CUBA

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. There’s seven airplanes hanging from the ceiling! They are different shapes and sizes, they’re like a family of planes. John says they are like his family. Unlike many Americans, John Nelson and his family decided to stay at Havana’s Melia Havana Hotel during their family tour of Cuba. The family of seven arrived in Havana at 6pm, took a taxi to their hotel, went up to their rooms, and then headed down for dinner. Now they were looking up at the red airplanes hanging from the ceiling in the lobby, which all face the same direction, and do indeed look like a family. The largest of the seven would undoubtedly be Stella, Mr. Nelson’s mother, a heavy-set woman who’s always leading the way just like the first airplane. The rest of the planes represent the rest of the family, the number two and three planes being just smaller that the first but larger than the rest would be John and Morgan, followed by John Jr., Taylor, Kimberly, and Justin.

John smiles and the music draws his attention from the planes. From somewhere in the expansive lobby a saxophone was crying and laughing. The sax didn’t sound like any John had heard before. “Do you hear that Kim? These Cubans put their stamp on everything, we should have come sooner!”

A few minutes later the whole family is seated in the lobby listening to versions of classic Cuban songs like “Twenty Years, Black Tears, Kiss me Often, and a potpourri of other Cuban hits. Mr. Nelson realizes the whole family is sitting together and listening to music, and he can’t remember the last time that happened. No mobile phones, no tablets, no laptops or TV!

Just music, really great music!

CESAR LOPEZ & HAVANA ENSEMBLE

But who is the guy playing the sax? It’s none other than Cesar Lopez, accompanied by Havana Ensemble. Cesar doesn’t play with his hands or even with his heart as many musicians claim. He plays with his seventh sense which is fine tuned when certain sounds and rhythms converge with Cuban afro jazz.

The performance ended, and the planes changed direction, but John now knew the place in Havana where he could hear the Cuban Charlie Parker. Cesar Lopez and Havana Ensemble play in the lobby of the Melia Havana on Thursdays at 10pm, and on Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30pm they play at Havana’s Jazz Café at the intersection of Paseo and Malecon in the Vedado neighborhood.

By Dina GomGar

May 7, 2018


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