Ponce International Jazz Festival: 4/27-29/12
Wilbert Sostre reports from festival in Puerto Rico
The first edition of the Ponce International Jazz Festival, organized by Wanda Borrero and the radio station Vid 90.3, was a success. Three days of good jazz with emphasis on Puerto Rico local talent started on Friday, April 27 with the music of Zambaribiri, a big band of talented young students from the town Guayanilla High School, with special guest, "cuatro" virtuoso Archie Negron. The cuatro is a string instrument mostly used in Puerto Rican folk music. The band opened with the classic Tito Puente composition "Oye Como Va" and closed with a wonderful version of The Village People’s “YMCA.” The second and last act of the night was the Vid 90.3 house band, Sound Jazz.
Saturday night was dedicated to the trumpet, starting with the sound of Edwin Gutierrez & Jazz Project, that included another jazz legend from Puerto Rico, drummer Jimmy Rivera. The twice Grammy-nominated and internationally recognized jazz trumpeter Charlie Sepulveda was the second act of the night. Sepulveda is one of those rare musicians that can play any jazz style—straight ahead or Latin jazz—with conviction and feeling.
Ponce’s local jazz hero, trumpeter Julito Alvarado, to whom this first edition of the Ponce International Jazz Festival was dedicated, closed the night with his contagious Latin jazz sound. Alvarado is a musician with vast experience playing in Latin jazz bands and salsa orchestras.
The good musical offering continued on Sunday night with the music of Eugenio Torres and Sol Creciente, followed by Carlos Juan Colon & Manus, and the Ponce Municipal Band. Closing the festival, the always interesting and eclectic sound of master trombonist and international musician, William Cepeda. Cepeda, who played with the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band, is an excellent composer and arranger who fuses jazz with traditional Puerto Rican rhythms like Bomba and Plena.