Published On: Sun, Sep 2nd, 2012

Third Edition of the Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival again exceeded all expectations

WILLEMSTAD - The opening night of the third edition of the Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival again exceeded all expectations.

The musical extravaganza started while the tropical sun was slowly taking shelter behind the Caribbean horizon to wake way for the stars. The evening was not only filled with stars in the sky but also a few hundred world class star musicians, divided in nine top class acts, who showed the best of their talent and capacities to the local public and music lovers who came from various corners of the world to experience the festival .The public again had the privilege to commute between three stages to enjoy the artists of their choice.

Diverse and Unique
Choices had to be made for during the seven hour stretch of the festival for there were simultaneous performances on all three stages. As was the case the previous two editions of the CNSJF, this year we had again planned in advance to visit all nine acts in order not to miss out on anything. Not an easy task all for level of music performed on all three stages was of such high quality that once you started to enjoy one of the concerts it was very difficult to leave. The stops at the various food and drink stands, and the pleasant chats with friends, acquaintances and visitors from other parts of the world did not contribute to our noble intention.

Tribute to George Neman
Talking about intention – Gregory Elias, president of the Fundashon Bon Intenshon¸ who together with Mojo Events, is responsible for the festival - announced earlier during a press conference that the Friday night is dedicated to the late media icon George Neman, who’s knowledge of the international Latin American music scene was unequaled. Neman was a media pioneer with an intensive and extensive career in TV and radio. For decades he, together with a group of close friends, exposed the best Latin American to listeners. Being a musician himself his favorite music style was Latin Jazz music. For decades he also visited many concerts where he became acquainted with hundreds of performers from all over the world bringing the charisma and hospitality of Curaçao far from the island’s shores.

The local music treat
We started our stroll with a first stop at the Sir Duke where the top local music talent Hershell Rosario, together with his friends, had the privilege to open the show and treat their local fans and visitors with an hour of world class music. Hershell had also invited his long time friend guitarist Luis Salinas from Argentina and some local singers among which the legendary Ced Ride who closed their act with a brand new Tumba song, co-written by Ced, Hershell and the bandleader’s wife Mylene.
Afterwards we rushed to the Celia Cruz Stage to catch the last part of the Dizzy Gillespy Orchestra directed by the legendary Cuban saxophonist Paquito de Rivera. As he does on many of his concerts Paquito had invited the Curaçao born percussionist Pernell Saturnino to take care of the exotic rhythms. As expected, Paquito and his fellow musicians of the orchestra treated the visitors in the music hall to music of the highest level and a music journey across the continents, especially the American continent.

Latin All Star Ensemble
While on the main stage (Sam Cook stage) Sergio George was also directing an orchestra which had to accompany ten of the most accredited Latin American music performers of all time; among which were the legendary Cheo Feliciano, Andy Montañez and Oscar de Leon. The latter paid tribute to the Curaçao impresario Angel (el Gordito de Oro) Job who, as Oscar always credits, granted him and his band the first opportunities to perform internationally. Angel Job was also responsible for bringing hundreds of music acts to Curaçao during a lifetime dedicated to music promotion. Before the performance of Oscar, another favorite of the local crowd, Dominican Jose Alberto (El Canario) got the public singing out their hearts. This part of the evening reached its climax with Marc Anthony performing the late salsa legend Hector Lavoe’s music and a few of his own large scale of hits. The show ended with all the singers coming together for their final musical greet to a well pleased crowd.

Rubén Blades
Shortly thereafter Ruben Blades took the main stage and again showed why is considered one of the best Latin American music performers and composers. There is only so much I can say about Ruben; one of a kind. He has over a hundred hits songs from his pen. It’s the second time in a row that Ruben has been invited to the CNSJF. He expressed that he wanted to perform like for three hours to the crowd which was singing their heart out. The messages Ruben Blades interprets with such beautiful melody lines touches the Latin American people which were present in large numbers; especially from Venezuela. We have seen Ruben being accompanied by various ensembles during the years, starting with his longtime partners Willy Colon’s orchestra, but the orchestra who backed him Friday evening on the Sam Cook stage was without a doubt one of the best we heard.

Carlos Santana
Finally what we had dreamt of for more than four decades; to see Carlos Santana, life in Curaçao. In the late sixties and early seventies Carlos was responsible that the island counted hundreds of bands following his music style. He touched the hearts of the local youngsters after his breakthrough at the Woodstock festival in 1969 for he got to fuss R&B, Rock, Blues and Soul Music with Latin American and Afro Caribbean music. The youngsters on the islands were fans of the North American music styles reaching them through radio waves and recordings, but it was the Latin American and Afro Caribbean flavor which Carlos Santana blended into the totality of his songs what touched us deep in our roots.
Santana, with ups and downs, managed to stay on top of his objective for more than four decades, being a role model for artists from all genres and generations. On Friday, august 31, 2012, he again pleased a crowd of a little over ten thousand of the millions of fans he has all over the world. He started out his show with some up tempo number; I’d say to energize himself and his band, performed flawlessly. He immediately showed his skills on the guitar and proved that with the years he has only gotten better and better.
When he performed his special rendition of ‘Oye Come Va’, from the late legendary bandleader and percussionist Tito Puente, the people went out of their head and the house came down. From there on it was history. His song selection, from such an extensive repertoire, was perfectly done. He switched with ease from one style and moment in time during his long and impressive career to the other. He conducted his band like a real leader, pending of every detail that was happening on stage and had to happen. Midway through his concert he expressed that he was counting his blessings and told that one of his difficult moments in his life some colleagues and friends from his native country, Mexico, came to him with the proposal to record Corazón Espinado, written by the band members of the group Maná, of which the lead singer Fher joined the Santana band on stage to perform the song. The drummer Alex also set in and clearly was having a ball. After a few minutes Ruben Blades also joined on stage and everybody on stage and in the crowd was partying.

The 2nd night; headlined by Maná and Alicia Keys
We and ten thousands of others are counting down the minutes to enjoy Maná, Alicia Keys and all other seven top acts to close off a memorable third edition of the Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival. Visit for the details.

Source: Caribseek

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