After three months of collaborating with music-minded students at the National College of Art, Lahore, the Cuban jazz band A3 traveled to the capital city to enrich the ears of jazz aficionados at an intimate concert held at the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC).
Much of the small hall-space remained vacant, though barely noticeable against the swaying shoulders of diplomats and guests of the PBC who occupied the front rows.
Red and blue, the colours of Cuba, lit the stage as trombonist Ariel Jorge Perez’s acoustics filled the hall accompanied by Anna Maria Caluff’s magic fingers on the piano and Alberto Batista’s unrelenting energy on drums. It was a Cuban love affair.
With the kind of spontaneity that lends to the soul of Jazz, A3 allowed the audience to dance across continents with tunes such as Guantanamera, a popular track from Cuba; Punjab, a Joe-Henderson composition; and Miles Davis’s My Fine Valentine and Cantaloupe Island.
Perez intermittently divulged into vocals, adding an extra beat with a pair of drumsticks to the chaotic union of the instruments, as Anna-Maria backed him up. Several requests and dedications circulated, including the passionate tune Beza Me Mucho, a favorite of the Cuban Ambassador’s wife, nostalgic perhaps for the sounds of home.
“We haven fallen in love with Pakistan,” said Perez, overwhelmed with the response of an appreciative audience after an uninterrupted hour and a half’s performance.
“We’ve been friends a long time and used to jam at Alberto’s place in Habana,” Perez explained.
Having formed their band less than four months ago, Ariel, Anna Maria and Alberto — hence A3 — were thrilled to get an invitation from Cuban Ambassador Jesus Zenen Buergo Concepcion to teach and perform Jazz in Pakistan.
The Jazz trio has been in Pakistan for the past three months, teaching a Jazz course at the National College of Art, while increasing their exposure to eastern classical music through the exchange. Winding up the course last month, A3 is now lined up for shows around the country until March.
Director of the PBC, Murtaza Solangi said that bringing different musical genres to Pakistan is a means of enriching the listening experience of its people.
“We are trying to open up to the world,” he added, calling the live concert a mere beginning in the process.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 2nd, 2012.