“A jazz festival can’t be about stars,” Adrian Iaies reflected as the five-day Mira Jazz concluded on Oct. 19. A pianist and one of Argentina’s premier jazz musicians, Iaies was the artistic director who cobbled public and private local, national and international support into Buenos Aires’ wide-ranging, primarily free celebration of jazz and related sounds. “Budgets only allow for so many stars. The festival has to be the star.”
On his own terms, Iaies (whose director duties allowed for only one solo at one of the festival’s jam sessions) can be considered a star-maker. Marshalling resources wisely, pairing local and visiting artists on double bills, finding new ways to spotlight his homeland’s musical proclivities and spreading the musical wealth around one of the world’s great cities, he created an event that took on the sprawling, heterogeneous richness of its locale. While the focal point each day was a ticketed concert, usually in the large Teatro Coliseo, there were also free events in the Biblioteca Nacional and other smaller halls and no-cover sets in clubs plus lectures, panel discussions and films in the Recoleta Cultural Center that abuts the cemetery where Eva Peron is buried. Jazz was happening in one or another of Buenos Aires’ historic neighborhoods literally from midday until well past midnight.