Cuba’s Jazz Festival – Havana, Cuba, Greater Antilles

A Little-Known Highlight of the World Circuit

Music, at times profoundly African in rhythm and origin, is a deep-reaching and complex ingredient of the Cuban soul, so it’s no surprise that when musicians from around the world show up each February for Cuba’s Jazz Festival, they marvel at the num­ber of exceptionally talented local musicians sharing the bill with them and performing throughout the city.

Held since the early 1980s, the annual festival spotlights many of Cuba’s revered grassroots stars, but the local audience is starved for the cross-pollination of American music. The result is a week of transcultural jam sessions, spontaneous concerts, and late-night parties that bring disparate classes and nationalities together with the common language of music.

Disorganized and sprawling but endlessly rich, with a carnival ­like atmosphere, the festival takes place in dozens of Havana’s theaters, bars, and clubs, with performances around the clock.

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