For the past 13 years, the city of Barranquilla has been home to a moderately acclaimed international Jazz Festival. This is somewhat surprising, since Barranquilla is not necessarily a "cultural hub" of South America or even Colombia.
Not that they don’t have some decent art, theatre, and music every now and then, it’s just more of a laid back coastal city than a jazz mecca.
Be that as it may, in 1997 Samuel Minsky, Iriarte Miguel, and Antonio Caballero, a group of friends and jazz lovers, decided to organize an international jazz fest. They received public and private investments to help launch the festival and with that, the very first Barranquijazz Fest was born.
On top of the normal allure jazz holds for me, the billboards for festival proudly proclaimed that Polish Jazz/Jungle/Fusion groups Pink Freud would be coming (I had no idea who they were, but the name alone was enough intrigue me... and yes, they're not listed on the actual schedule below for some reason, but I don't actually have a picture of the billboard :( )
And so, on Thursday night, I headed over the music hall at the nearby country club, where jazz piano legend Steve Kuhn would be playing. At this point, it’s important to reiterate a fact from previous blog posts: Barranquilla is hot. Because of this, it’s not uncommon for us gringos to be caught wearing shorts.
So, when we arrived at the country club and one us who shall not be named (*cough* Kevin *cough*) happened to be wearing his aforementioned shorts, we were promptly turned away in violation of the country club dress code. Sad trombone.
So, we made a mental note to never leave our homes again without a backup pair of tear-away pants, and called it a night.
The next day was the main day for the festival and in the early afternoon we headed to an outdoor venue towards the south end of town. It was a surprisingly beautiful night and the evening started with some great Latin jazz from the Yurgaki Sextet.
We only caught the end of their show, but soon enough, things began to heat up with…. PINK FREUD. Turns out I had every right to be excited for this group of Polish punks because they brought down the house.
Plus, the energy of the show was electric. Image a hard-rock punk band playing modern jazz and you can sort of get the idea. Let’s just say, a mosh-pit wouldn’t have been a surprise.
Following Pink Freud, we got one more taste of latin jazz with Pachalo y Su Orchestra. It was a great way to end the night with the whole crowd salsa-ing and rhumba-ing around the theatre. (you can just skip ahead to the 2:00 mark below for the good stuff...)
All in all, it turned out to be an incredibly wonderful two nights of jazz and I’m glad I got to experience it this time around. And if you’re in the mood for some new jazz tunes, I would highly recommend giving Pink Freud a try...