Not just a Festival, Heinken JazzFest is a learning experience

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"Not just a Festival, Heinken JazzFest is a learning experience"

Jazz is an acquired taste; let’s be honest. You can love it, hate it, tolerate it, but I guarantee that listening to it from the confines of your headphones does not give you the same musical experience as seeing a band play live. I remember when I was younger and lived in Florida, I had a friend who played in a hardcore band. You know those bands that play really loud and yell in the microphone? Yea that kind of band.  Well he would play the bands he loved in his car or at his house and I really couldn’t get into it. After being invited to attend of his own band’s practices, it was an awakening. You can see the passion and the artistry that came with the music. The appreciation for their music was sky high and actually began enjoying their live shows and cds.  Now I tell this story not for those that already love Jazz, but for those that may think a certain way about it. Sometimes all it takes is to see someone play live in order to open up your mind to the beauty behind music that you may normally not be attracted to.

Recently we got the great opportunity to fly out to Puerto Rico and cover the 2016 Heineken Jazz Fest event. We met with Andro Nodarse Leon; Andro’s company is partial owner of El San Juan, Ed Carey; Director of Sales and Marketing and Kathy Casper; The Regional Director of Public Relations.

We were driven to an exclusive VIP cocktail party at the Tito Puente Amphitheatre prior to the actual concert and were delighted with delicious food and drinks. While there we got a chance to sit down with Andro to talk about the Festival, his life, where he sees EL San Juan Hotel Live and much more. The resort recently debuted El San Juan LIVE, an exclusive live music series occurring weekly, Wednesday through Sunday featuring entertainers selected from the ranks of established artists on the island and that of up-and-coming musicians. Free to the public, the hotel’s historic lobby draws crowds nightly to hear award-winning musicians, many of which were featured during Heineken Jazz Fest.

Andro’s passion for the hotel and reviving it into a music haven for young musicians really is a passion of his.  I can sum up his ideology as painting a masterpiece where each color, brush and technique are captured where the color is the music, the brush is the hotel and the technique is just – that the way he will make that happen.

He is a big advocate of Education. Check out his story!

While many may think of the Heineken JazzFest as just that, many may not know that they share an educational aspect with Berklee in Puerto Rico. Every year they take the top students from the school to open up the Heineken JazzFest every year. I think it’s an incredible feat to actually own private schools to further the education of large population of students, as well as team up with a School of music to further the arts. The JazzFest is a major event despite the size of the venue.

A glorious evening where people would call it ‘Not too hot and not too cold’ I stood surrounded by waves of congas, saxophones, trumpets, pianos and drums rang loud across the crisp sky. The Tito Puente Amphitheater was surrounded by happy on lookers sitting in their own lawn furniture smiling, dancing, and having a great time listening to the nights acts. On the card that night was Charlie Sepúlveda & The Turnaround, Ralph Irizarry – Timbalaye and Luis Salinas Quintet. This years festival was dedicated to Ray Santos Saxophonist/Composer.  

Watch the head of the Heineken JazzFest event talk about the event and how they are trying to keep the culture alive and well.

I caught a glimpse of Charlie as he played his trumpet and interacted with the crowd. Like I said early in this article, you have to see it live to experience the true nature of some music.

Check out some clips from Charlie Sepúlveda & The Turnaround

You owe it to yourself to get yourself a pass, bring some cash, your favorite lawn chair, get yourself some empanadas, una cerbezita and just relax and enjoy the show. All in all a the Heineken Jazz Fest is a great enjoyable ride through the romance of Jazz!
Here are a few images from the event: