On the ground in Cuba ? Cuba relations have been in national news recently, and KCSM has been right up to date with it. A KCSM tour group recently spent a week and a half visiting the musical side of Cuba people-to-people style. The visitors were seeing musicians, restaurants, show-people, and music schools, along with a little general touring.
Who did they see ? It’s true there are a few Cuban musicians who have made it to the US are are well known (read, Chucho Valdez, etc.). However there are a whole body of players that have never had the reach out of their country. The real magic of the tour was the visitors got to look into that layer of Cuban musicians that haven’t been seen or heard out of their country. Right now, these are the people you get to see by visiting.
“How did they get to Cuba ? ! ” Oh, right. The tour was managed by a smaller company, Earthbound Expeditions in the state of Washington. The Cuban visits are authorized by arrangement under a special “people-to-people” program with our federal government.
What’s the scene like there ? KCSM’s Alisa Clancy was one of the tour co-hosts and took some time to tell us about her experiences. It’s a rich, individual culture in the country. The Cuban economy is fairly basic, with not a lot of spare money floating around. Making a living is largely more “personal” than “corporate.” If you’re a musician you’re playing for whoever is in town. If you’re living on it, you are bringing a performance people need. Alisa said the big message from this tour was that when “the diplomatic doors roll up” for Cuba, we will finally be able to see & hear this body of “in-the-country” musicians.
Next up on the blog. In some following posts we will take up a few of the local Cuban jazz performers and show their work, as best we can discover it. Keep an eye here on the KCSM jazz blog.