Arts & Entertainment

US saxophonist Ted Nash mixing art with jazz in Cuba

Havana, Jan 24 (EFE).- Art and jazz will mix in Cuba starting Tuesday – and through Jan. 28 – with the launching in Havana of the Jazz x Art project headed by US saxophonist and composer Ted Nash, the winner of two Grammy Awards.

The halls of Cuba’s National Fine Arts Museum will be filled with the sound of clarinets, violins and saxophones, all as part of an ambitious project undertaken by Nash which kicked off on Tuesday morning with about 20 young Cuban musicians.

The workshop – part of the 38th edition of the Plaza 2023 International Jazz Festival – includes artists who gain “inspiration” from the works on display in the museum and subsequently create musical pieces.

Following several days of work, the young musicians will perform their pieces along with Nash at a concert to be held on the museum’s patio next Saturday at 5 pm. The date coincides with the 170th anniversary of the birth of Cuban national hero Jose Marti.

“I feel like this is a very ambitious project because, we’re taking – first of all – a bunch of musicians that I’ve never met or worked with before, I don’t know their levels, I don’t know their experience, but it doesn’t matter because it’s not about our experience, it’s about the fact that we’re willing to work together,” the artist told EFE.

And he added that he and the groups played the first notes of the project inside the museum.

The improvisation of Yesiney Perez Lora, a fourth-year clarinet student at the National Art School, in a matter of seconds captivated a group of curious onlookers who formed a semicircle around her as she played in front of a painting.

Without Perez taking notice, Nash – visibly moved – joined in with his saxophone and helped the young clarinetist realize one of her life’s dreams: playing with one of her idols.

“I got to know him two years ago when I saw one of his videos on Youtube. It was incredible (playing an improvised duet), I didn’t know what to do. It was amazing,” the 18-year-old told EFE.

Yesiney said she welcomed the opportunity that Jazz x Art is providing to young musicians in Cuba, emphasizing that the initiative will help put to the side the political and historical differences between the US and the communist island.

“The best thing this kind of class teaches is that musicians, without regard for where we come from, don’t have so many differences. Just the opposite. We have many things in common,” she added.

The exercise, Nash said, has that very thing as its fundamental element: bringing people together.

He said he feels that the project is a timeless thing for him where politics and what’s happening in the world don’t matter, adding that the best time to speak about cooperation is the present.

According to organizers of the event, this is the first time that a collaboration of this kind has been undertaken between Cubans and Americans at an art museum on the island.

EFE jce/bp

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