Exploring the Havana International Jazz Festival

The Havana International Jazz Festival is a five-day event sponsored by Cuban musician Chucho Valdés and the Cuban Institute of Music. It's a celebration of Latin jazz, featuring some of the biggest names in the genre as well as talented new artists. Concerts, jam sessions, and workshops are held in various locations around Havana, giving visitors the chance to experience the rhythm of Latin jazz. The festival was founded in 1996 when Chucho Valdés became artistic director and president of the Organizing Committee, with Alexis Vázquez Aguilera as vice-president.

The JazzPlaza music festivals have helped to promote Cuban musicians while introducing international artists to the island. Popular jazz bands and musicians such as Maggie Prior and Omara Portuondo have performed at the festival, as well as Leonardo Timor's jazz band, which featured many important musicians of the time including Samuell Tellez, Fernando Vivar, and Rubén González. In 1974, Irakere embarked on a historic tour of the United States sponsored by Columbia's CBS, playing at several American jazz festivals including those in Newport and Montreal. They also broke attendance records for American jazz fans who attended in record numbers at the many prestigious venues in Havana that hosted the international event, such as the Teatro Nacional de Cuba, the Teatro Mella in Havana, and the Casa de la Cultura de Plaza.

This is where the title 'International Jazz Festival Plaza' originated from. Cuban jazz musicians such as pianist Frank Emilio Felipe, Pucho Escalante, and Dulzaides worked to keep jazz alive, with Dulzaides training many young musicians. The Vedado district is home to many of Havana's biggest attractions and is an essential part of any visit to the Havana Jazz Festival. One of the most important events in this part of Cuban jazz history is the emergence of Luciano Chano Pozo as one of the most famous jazz artists of the time.

Many of the Cuban artists who have performed at JazzPlaza have been nominated for and even won Grammy Awards in the Latin Jazz category, with Chucho Valdés undoubtedly among the most recognized worldwide. Visitors can enjoy a tour of Cuba and experience the stellar Havana Jazz Festival for themselves. In preparation for the main events, young musicians participate in the Jo Jazz/Young Jazz music competition. Many members of the orchestra formed quintets or quartets that performed at a variety of jazz festivals including the Polish Jamboree Jamboree, where genre legends Dave Brubeck and Gerry Mullingan were eager to hear the sounds of Chucho Valdés' quintet. You can return to Havana to dine on your own and prepare for an evening at the events and concerts of the Havana Jazz Festival.