Jazz Caliente: Memories of Cuba

Dec 3, 2016

Everyone is talking about Cuba.  

Fidel Castro's death combined with uncertainties about the incoming U.S. administration's stance on trade and aid in Cuba has put the island in the spotlight once again.  

It's a land of contrasts, that's for certain.  It's also a compellingly beautiful place with warm, funny, smart, resilient people.

My interest in Cuba started with the music, naturally.  Most of the music played on Jazz Caliente is Afro-Cuban jazz, and that's the accepted definition of the term "Latin jazz" --although that label really has expanded to include rhythmic jazz from Brazil and other South and Central American countries and the  Caribbean, and there's even a wonderful hybrid of Spanish flamenco dance music and jazz.

In the past at knkx, we've been fortunate enough to have partnered with Earthbound Expeditions for listener travel adventures, and I was delighted to host a Travel Club trip to Cuba in 2013.  Other knxk staff have hosted trips, and all of us agree that we'd go back to Cuba in a heartbeat if the opportunity presented itself.

I asked the knkx staff to each contribute one favorite photo from their Cuba trip for this week's post, as a tribute to the Cuba we love.   Of course, most offered more than one photo (myself included).  Mine are in the slide show above, the rest are below.

Enjoy this sampling of our memories of Cuba!

All Things Considered and Going Places host Ed Ronco captured a joyous moment with dancers in Trinidad, Cuba.
Credit Ed Ronco knkx
News Director Erin Hennessey was enchanted by a carved drum.
Credit Erin Hennessy knkx
Music Director Nick Francis caught a lovely sunset shot of Havana's Malecón, the seawall esplanade that serves as a meeting place for lovers, fishermen, poets and musicians.
Credit Nick Francis knkx
Emily Fahey, our Director of Major and Planned gifts, enjoyed hearing her tour guide join the band.
Credit Emily Fahey knkx
Director of Community Outreach and Events Brenda Goldstein-Young, is in charge of our award-winning School of Jazz program, so of course these students caught her eye. Cuba's arts conservatories are well-known for their excellence, and Cuban musicians are among the best trained in the world.
Credit Brenda Goldstein-Young knkx
Another from Music Director Nick Francis. This is the jazz club La Zorra y El Cuervo (the fox and the crow), and Havana's brightest young jazz stars are featured there weekly. It's where I first saw pianist Jorge Luis Pacheco.
Credit Nick Francis knkx
This may be my favorite of the bunch. Thanks to Communications and Marketing Manager Rebecca Jones for capturing the essence of Cuban music. Nothing fancy, just well-worn instruments played with love and commitment.
Credit Rebecca Jones knkx

Jazz Caliente airs Saturdays at 5:00 p.m. The program is hosted by Robin Lloyd and produced by KNKX Public Radio.