U.S. Classics in 2016 Havana Jazz Plaza Festival
by Yelanys Hernández Fusté
Christian McBride, Terence Blanchard, Rachel Flowers, Arturo O’Farrill and the New York group Snarky Puppy were featured in the extensive billboard of Jazz Plaza 2016, held December 15-18 in Havana, Cuba. Accompanied by an already notable CV at the age of 22, young Rachel Flowers performed two very enthusiastically received solo piano recitals in the Abelardo Estorino Theater Hall of the Cuban Ministry of Culture and at Casa de Alba.
Rachel also performed at 8 other satellite events during her 10 days in Cuba with such notable Cuban performers as Jazz Festival founder Bobby Carcassés at his home and at a live Radio Taino broadcast @ Havana’s Cafe Miramar featuring Cuba’s renowned flautist Maraca. Rachel also performed with the quintet of power jazz fusion keyboardist Bellita, and with Canelas, the all-women’s Afro Cuban/Jazz ensemble founded by percussionist Zoe Funtes, both at downtown Havana’s famous La Zorra y El Cuerva jazz club.
Flowers, a blind multi-instrumentalist and composer released her debut album, “Listen”, in late November “Is it jazz, is it classical, is it rock? Yes!”, it is announced on her web page (www.rachelflowersmusic.com). Continuing the tradition of her idols Keith Emerson and Frank Zappa, Rachel’s style challenges the borders between these and many other genres.
Rachel Flowers amazing story and music will be introduced to the world in “Hearing is Believing”, the upcoming 2017 feature documentary by American producer/director Lorenzo DeStefano (www.hearingisbelievingfilm.com). While DeStefano and co-producer Patti Channer were in Havana the film was screened at the Fresa y Chocolate theatre, for students of Cuban artist Pedro Gonzalez Pulido at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes San Alejandro, and in the Sala Caracol at UNEAC, the National Union of Cuban Writers and Artists.
DeStefano is also the filmmaker behind “Los Zafiros-Music From The Edge of Time”, the very well-received 2007 film about Cuba’s much-beloved quintet from the early 1960s (www.loszafirosfilm.com), which received its world premiere at the Havana International Film Festival.