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In our conversation with the maestro Humberto Ramírez about the Puerto Rico Jazz Jam 2023, we talked about the details of each of the musical presentations and what it takes to plan and carry out an event of this magnitud.
In this blog I include several audio clips of my conversation with the maestro.
Planning the Puerto Rico Jazz Jam
Before talking about the musical part, we talked a little with Humberto about the history and the effort needed to put together a quality music festival.
The Puerto Rico Jazz Jam 2023 is the 13th edition of this important festival. Since its inception in 2010, the festival was held at the Alejandro Tapia y Rivera Theater in Old San Juan, where it remained for its first 10 years. This was interrupted in 2021 by the pandemic, which forced the festival to go virtual.
The 2022 edition of the festival moved to the Centro de Bellas Artes in Santurce. And this year the Puerto Rico Jazz Jam returns to its original date of the fourth weekend of January (the week following the Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián) since last year it had to be moved to March due to the remaining effects of the pandemic.
As you can imagine, to organize an event of the quality and magnitude of this festival, Humberto Ramirez begins his planning many months in advance. The maestro already has dates booked at Bellas Artes for the next two years. And by the month of May, the maestro begins to give shape to the ideas of what he wants to present, and begins to reach out to musicians, sponsors and others.
Sponsors are essential for the festival to take place. They provide the financial stability to cover some of the preliminary expenses needed to set up the festival. Many of the companies that sponsor the Puerto Rico Jazz Jam have been supporting it since its inception.
Music for the Puerto Rico Jazz Jam 2023
Who better to talk about the music of the festival than its director Humberto Ramírez. In the audio clips below we review with the maestro each of this year’s presentations.
The Puerto Rico Jazz Jam 2023 kicks off on Friday, January 27 with two presentations; the SM Quinteto (the music of Sammy Morales) and El Trombón Puertorriqueño, with four greats of the instrument.
SM Quinteto (the music of Sammy Morales) – Maestro Sammy Morales can no longer play due to the illness that overwhelms him. This presentation of his SM Quintet is a way to pay tribute to his music. Sammy has influenced the musical environment of Puerto Rico not only with his music but also with the many musicians he has helped to develop as an educator.
El Trombón Puertorriqueño (Reinaldo Jorge, Rafy Torres, Danny Fuentes, and Antonio “Toñito” Vázquez) – These are four masters of the trombone who have left their mark in both Salsa and Latin Jazz. Humberto describes the format of this presentation, and it sounds very interesting. These four trombone masters will be accompanied by Manolo Navarro on piano, Junior Irizarry on bass, Raul Maldonado on drums, and William “Kachiro” Thompson on congas.
The Puerto Rico Jazz Jam 2023 continues on Saturday, January 28 with performances by Pedro Guzmán y su Jíbaro Jazz followed by Humberto Ramírez and the celebration of the 100 Years of Tito Rodriguez.
Pedro Guzmán and Jíbaro Jazz – The great “cuatrista” Pedro Guzmán returns to the music scene with his Jíbaro Jazz. Humberto shares with us that although Pedro has kept busy in his home studio, he certainly hasn’t been heard much in recent years. But that seems to be about to change after this presentation at the Puerto Rico Jazz Jam.
100 Years of Tito Rodríguez – Those who follow the master Humberto Ramirez know that he is a fan of the great Puerto Rican singer. The centenary of Tito Rodriguez gives him reason to commemorate it in a new way. In the audio below, Humberto explains what this presentation is all about.
A First Class Festival
The Puerto Rico Jazz Jam offers the Puerto Rican jazz-loving public a first-class event, with good music in a quiet and conducive environment to enjoy it.
The festival also helps to support our musicians. In addition to performing directly at the festival, the Puerto Rico Jazz Jam provides the performing musicians a promotional platform for future projects. In addition to providing work for the musicians, the festival also serves as an employment source for indirect personnel, such as light and sound technicians and those who work at Bellas Artes.
The quality of the event is evident. From the themes of the presentations, the musicians, and the preparation and arrangements of the music presented, to the experience of enjoying the event at the Centro de Bellas Artes in Santurce.
But even with the support of sponsors year after year, the support of the public is vital to the festival’s success.
The attention to detail in the music and logistics make the Puerto Rico Jazz Jam a memorable experience worthy of our support. That’s why I think the Puerto Rico Jazz Jam offers us good music served on a silver platter.