Last updateFri, 13 Jul 2018 7am

Jalisco Jazz Festival: Bringing improvised music to the people

On a cool evening on the roof terrace of a snazzy Zapopan mall complex ringed by the soaring husks of new construction, a month and change of jazz-related events in Guadalajara both educational and diversionary came to a head in five hours of live music, speechifying and canapes.

The Jalisco Jazz Festival is the result of what must be a herculean effort on the part of non-profit Fundacion Tonica and its founders, Gil Cervantes and Sara Valenzuela, who founded the organization in 2006 as a light house for young people who might otherwise stray into fruitless past times such as crime and drug-use.  The festival itself was birthed in 2013, with Tonica’s pedagogical/transformative mission statement intact at its core.   


Four years later, education is still the festival’s cornerstone, with many of the internationally-renowned musicians convened by Cervantes and co. pulling duty in seminars, clinics and masterclasses inside the tranquil confines of converted 16th Century cloisters.

One such musician is pianist Aaron Goldberg, an American jazz master in his 40s who’s played with Wynton Marsalis, Joshua Redman, among others – a major “get” for the festival.  In addition to gigging and recording albums, he enjoys sharing his passion and skill with budding musicians.  The piano player is no stranger to the Jalisco Jazz Festival, both as a performer and an educator, and he has had the pleasure of keeping track of a few of the students whose talent he has nurtured over the past couple of years.

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