Mexican Jazz in 2003 -- English translation

Mexican Jazz in 2003 -- English translation

by Alain Derbez

copyright © 2003 Alain Derbez

Like a coin in the air, and one there. I prefer that image to answering what was good and what was bad, with categorical emphasis, in Mexican jazz in the 2003.

It is more accurate to talk about the list of beings, and then the list of must be's will get thinner. It is a good way to stop the spoiled wailers.

To begin, I want to talk about the presence of Mexican jazz and Mexican jazzists out of Mexico. The publication of written documents about the history of jazz in Mexico started first as a curiosity and turned into an interest of investigators and jazz promotors elsewhere. This led the investigators to approach Mexican jazz players (who more or less answered their questions), and also led to the possibility of their promotion. Mexican jazz and Mexican jazz players have been the subject of articles published in magazines like the French Jazz Hot (by Patrick Dalmace), the British Wire (by Mathew Franklin), mentions in the Spanish Cuadernos de Jazz as well as on the Jazzhouse page, and cyber discussions via Jazz_Mestizo@gruposyahoo.com Jazz Mestizo and, ocassionally, Latin Jazz. This projection has been echoed in Mexico itself. Inside our country we have the presence of jazz as a theme in several newspapers and magazines, thanks to people like Antonio Malacara, Xavier Quirarte, Juan Jose Oliver, Victoriano Lopez, Sergio Monsalvo, Victor Ronquillo and players who also write, including the pianist Alberto Zuckermann and the sax player Juan Alzate (whose duo with pianist Mark Levine is on cd).

Thanks to these people, news that a Mexican jazz trio conducted by the pianist Miguel Villicana played at New York's Lincoln Center, that singers Magos Herrera and Iraida Noriega performed music in L.A., that Mexican drummer Antonio Sanchez goes on playing all around the world, that Mexican sax player Luis Marquez carries on in Belgium with his Mexican-rooted and that Mexican jazz players play in Bolivia, Colombia, Paraguay, Argentina, Brasil, Canada or Spain (Marcos Miranda, sax; Magos Herrera, Lila Downs, voices; Ethos, etc.) doesn't arrive as some bizarre information in empty spaces on a cultural or show page in the newspaper, to be almost at random filled by an editor, Jazz in Mexico is being documented and there is now a way of access to get to it. In radio there are some spaces, too.

One of them, in Public Station Radio Educacion (DF) is a weekly broadcast that celebrated in '03 its first ten years: Datos para una historia aun no escrita. Radio UNAM, the National University Radio, has traditionally offered room for jazz -- Panorama del Jazz, founded by Juan Lopez Moctezuma and then inherited by the bass player and radio conductor Roberto Aymes. Now a new daily space has been born: Jazz Estacionario. Besides these programs there is space for Mexican jazz in the Mexican Institute of Radio (Horizonte).

Every year Radio Educacion has programmed December 25 as a complete day of Mexican Jazz. As the man in charge, I shall say that there is a lot of original material with great quality and proposal to be broadcasted. Of course, some people (musicians that work also as broadcasters) see the other side of the coin and they even arrive at the absurdity of questioning the authorities for permiting some new spaces for jazz, "unnecesarily" spaces, by the way, where they themselves are programmed.

It doesn't matter. The coin in the air presents its good face to them that want to see it. In '03 the opening of a space in DF to play like the Papa Beto (Makoto Ozone just played there) is good news. The cds recorded by the pianists Enrique Nery, Eugenio Toussaint, Alberto Zuckermann; the singer Iraida Noriega and the guitar player Cristobal Lopez, the sax players Diego Maroto, Marcos Miranda and Remi Alvarez, the historical couple Hilario (Sanchez, piano) and Micky (Chantine, voice) is something to applaud, and the reissue as cds of old lps like those by sax players Arturo Cipriano and Tomas Rodríguez and keyboard master Eugenio Toussaint is reason to celebrate.

Pianist Francisco Tellez, in '03, has continued his work in charge of the jazz school in the Superior School of Music (DF). A lot of the school's students and ex-students have collaborated in opening new spaces all around Mexico (one of Tellez's former pupils, Tobias Delius, is among the best sax players in the Dutch scene today). Another jazz education initiative, the Berklee-Universidad Veracruzana annual jazz workshop and festival in Xalapa, Veracruz, apparently will continue, too.

There was interesting publishing activity by the Fondo de Cultura Económica in '03. For a long time the only jazz title to be found in Mexico was "The Jazz Book" by German Joachim Berendt. Now this national publishing company also give the reader "Caliente, a history of latin jazz," my own "El jazz en Mexico, datos para una historia," and "Historia del Jazz" by the U.S. writer, scholar, JJA member and musician Ted Gioia. Other books exist now that deal with Mexican jazz, like Antonio Malacara's "De la libertad en pequenas dosis" and the photo jazz book by Fernando Aceves with texts written by Sergio Monsalvo, "Tiempo de solos."

Independent labels have continued their promotion of Mexican jazz. Let me mention quickly Urtext, Pentagrama, Are, Agave, Jazzcat, Antidoto, Quindecim, Jazzorca, M&L, and Alebrije. In '04, these labels promise cds by singer Veronica Ituarte (singer), drummer Hernan Hecht, guitar players Emiliano Marentes and Leo Corona, pianist Juan Alzate, and groups including Linea 3 Cabezas de Cera and Ethos.

Let us note, separately, the continuity of the Eurojazz festival in the National Center of the Arts. Every spring Mexican audiences can listen here to jazz players that come from several European countries. It is a pity that in the last two editions Mexican players have not appeared on the same stage. When this did occur in early editions of the festival, it was a rich activity for both players and audiences.

The worst thing for a musician is the oblivion of having been forgotten . It must not happen with the death of piano player Juan Jose Calatayud (reported in Jazzhouse.org). Beside the homages, the best offering is to broadcast his music, and to continue, as his widow has done, producing his cds. A biography was anounced to be made soon, and a cd with a Cervantino Festival concert by Calatayud and the late trumpet player Chilo Moran will be available, too.

Jazz in Mexico is a real thing, with a history that has been developing and is well and alive, If somebody denies it, it is their problem, due to their ignorance. The cultural institutions in Mexico perhaps will catch the jazz train when they see that next November Mexican jazz will be a presence in New York City in the new Jazz at Lincoln Center building. This is also something to be acknowledged by the private companies. We have the audiences, we have the music. So what then?


Alain Derbez is sax player, historian, radio producer and writer, author of the book "El jazz en Mexico, datos para una historia" (Fondo de Cultura Economica), presented in the Guelph Jazz Festival in 2002 - and collaborator with Cuadernos de Jazz and the Jazzhouse page.


C o m m e n t s

GIG SAXO METTING 1 of 1
INGº GERMAN BOSCAN November 10, 10

Cuando tienen pautado el pròximo encuentro internacional GIG en Mèxico???????? Les parece bien en CANCUN GIG 2011. Durante aspring brake.

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