The Story Behind Live in Cuba


Check out this slideshow for the story behind the JLCO's Live in Cuba album!

News | Aug, 18th 2015

In 2010, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis traveled to Havana thanks to a special dispensation from President Obama.

 (Photo by Frank Stewart.)

 Havana was once an international hotspot for jazz and a crucible for the Afro-Cuban rhythms that shaped Latin jazz. But it had been off-limits to American jazz musicians for decades due to the U.S. embargo on Cuba.

 (Photo by Frank Stewart.)

 The trip was an emotional reunion between musicians long separated by politics.

 (Photo by Ayano Hisa.)

 The Orchestra spent a large chunk of their time educating local students.

 (Photo by Frank Stewart.)

 The students appreciated the access to American jazz musicians, whom they had heard sparingly—if at all—on old recordings.

 (Photo by Frank Stewart.)

 The Orchestra members took pride in their role as ambassadors for jazz and were warmly welcomed by the Cuban crowds that gathered to watch them teach.

 (Photo by Frank Stewart.)

 Then there were the concerts.

 (Photo by Frank Stewart.)

 The Orchestra played three nights at the Teatro Mella. One evening was dominated by Latin music, another was devoted to jazz standards, and the third was meant as an inspiration to the students.

 (Photo by Frank Stewart.)

 The concerts were so popular that the police were called in to (peacefully) enact crowd control measures.

 (Photo by Ayano Hisa.)

 The Orchestra—and the crowds, too, by all indications—agreed that all three concerts were nights to remember.

 (Photo by Frank Stewart.)

 That is why we are releasing this album now: to share the magic and revel in history being made. Live in Cuba: in stores August 21 and available for preorder now at Amazon and iTunes.


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Jazz at Lincoln Center is excited to announce the launch of Blue Engine Records. This new platform to make its vast archive of recorded concerts available to jazz audiences everywhere. All Aboard.

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Blue Engine Records’ first release is ”Live in Cuba by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, and while it is available for preorder now, it will not hit stores until August 21. Here is an exclusive excerpt of the liner notes.


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