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Riviera Maya Jazz Festival

Free jazz on the beach, in Cancun, Mexico, is pretty far removed from the traditional way of celebrating Thanksgiving. For anyone wanting to get away from belly-swelling turkey dinners, “shop-till-you-drop” Black Friday, and college/professional football mania, along with cold weather, the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival is a pleasant alternative. However, mainstreamers and purists more than likely would have found the mostly contemporary-based roster, featuring drummer Billy Cobham, saxophonist David Sanborn, guitarist Earl Klugh and supergroup Fourplay a test of endurance.

Nonetheless, audiences in the range of 5,000 or more sprawled along the beautiful white-sand Playa del Carmen beach area, with evening temperatures in the upper 60s, and reveled at all the artists’ performances. From that standpoint, the opening night, on Thanksgiving, showcased only Mexican musicians and singers. Even more than in the U.S., jazz has a very limited appeal in Mexico. But it is growing, and for the homegrown artists being part of a festival was a remarkable achievement. It was quite evident that they relished the opportunity to shine before the large indigenous audience, intermixed with international visitors.

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