There’s a quote by the great Nina Simone that goes like this: “Jazz is not just music, it is a way of life, it is a way of being, a way of thinking,” and I think no one could describe it better. Music has the quality to take over everything, to grab you and get you out of this world, and the jazz is not the exception. It was born in New Orleans in the early 20th century, and it didn’t take long to become a representation of freedom and expression.
Soon, the jazz had spread all over the world. People were going to jazz performances in Chicago, New York, Europe, and in 2006 our Musical City started to have a little jazz space: the International Jazz Festival in Barquisimeto. For a few days, Barquisimeto embraced the harmonies of jazz. Pianists, saxophonists, drummers and more, from Lara, Venezuela and all over the world, were together to bring to Barquisimeto the magic that only this genre has.
The International Jazz Festival never compromised its fine performances and quality. It enabled to discover great musicians before the jazz industry itself recognized them as great artists. “It wasn’t so much about bringing musicians to visit us: but for them to take our sounds in their luggage back home,” says Willy McKey, who hosted the festival.
One of the most important moments of Willy’s life was in the International Jazz Festival when presenting the Spanish, Antonio Serrano, and the Argentinean, Federico Lechner, a duo of harmonicist and pianist. On the same day, the festival got together Jowee Omicil and Benoit Martiny Band, making a never seen before performances; if you want to be blown away, click on their names and imagine the level of talent that gathered in this city, and that’s just for the international artists.
On 2014, the International Jazz Festival of Barquisimeto had its final edition. However, we can still feel the rhythm of jazz if we know where to look for it. Fausto Castillo is a Barquisimetan who studied Jazz and Modern Music in Barcelona, Spain, for three years. When he came back to Barquisimeto, he opened his own academy, the Centro de Estudio de Música Moderna y Jazz, in Bararida. A place where you can become a better musician.
For Fausto, the post-festival years have been a remembrance of the experience. He invites everybody to believe and join the world of jazz. “You don’t have to be born a genius in music to become a good musician,” he says. As long as there are people who are willing to learn and teach, like Fausto, we can be certain that jazz will continue to live on in the Ciudad Musical.
The jazz in Barquisimeto began with people such as the master Fernando Freitez, Silvia Arocha, drummer Juan Carlos Tortoso, Jaime Bosch, and Pablo Gutierrez. Nowadays, the new jazz generation of the city is looking bright. A good example is Pandijazz, a jazz school for children that teach them to think in jazz. Also, outside of the country we have Barquisimetan talent, such as Santiago Bosch, a young jazz pianist who got a scholarship to study music in Berkley; turns out we got our own Chick Corea in Venezuela.
The world could never have enough musicians. Music can’t be limited, and neither can’t the jazz. Even if you don’t know a bit about jazz, but this article made you curious, then Yo Amo Barquisimeto invites you to turn your volume up to Billie Holiday stunning voice, or Martin Taylor extraordinary guitar. And we hope there comes a day when Barquisimeto doesn’t have one or two great musicians, but so many that it’s impossible to get them all in one photograph. We hope people keep believing in music, and jazz, and the good it brings to the world.
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