Morelia, the Mexican capital of jazz

Michoacan celebrated the 17th edition of the Jazztival, one of the most important festivals that attract the best national and international exponents.

Morelia, the Mexican capital of jazz
Morelia, the Mexican capital of jazz. Photo by Jens Thekkeveettil / Unsplash

For its exponents, music festivals, and followers, Morelia has managed to become the jazz capital of Mexico, to be at the height of Latin American nations the size of Cuba or Brazil.

And its soft and seductive notes and those mergers with other musical currents have made this genre born in the second half of the nineteenth century in the city of New Orleans, United States, transcends borders and is increasingly placed in the taste of the young public.

"Jazz has evolved a lot. When I started in this, jazz fusion with rock, electronic music, and Latin rhythms was very fashionable. This continues, has evolved, but has returned to look again at acoustic jazz and recover its traditional roots but from a contemporary conception, "said the renowned saxophonist Juan Alzate.

For the musician from Michoacán, the health of jazz in Mexico is in optimal conditions, considering that its representatives have turned it into something proactive, creative, and interesting worldwide, and at the level of other countries.

"Not only the Latin jazz pole is Cuba and Brazil, but also Mexico, Argentina, and other places," he said.

Jazz is here to stay

Alzate is one of the most important representatives of the jazz scene in the state and has made efforts to make it an expression of culture so that even nationally and internationally he is perceived as an artistic reference.

"Jazz in Morelia has always had a lot of public, and in Jazztival a lot of youth presence. This means that the majority of the society of any age is in search of a musical expression out of the ordinary, different and fresh."

Not for nothing this April 30 is the International Jazz Day, and in this context, in the capital Michoacán recently held the seventeenth edition of Jazztival, one of the most important festivals in the country that attracts the best national exponents and international. However, it is well known that festivals of any size depend to a large extent on government support, which is becoming increasingly difficult for organizers to achieve.

"The current authorities still do not finish the fact that for Morelia cultural tourism is one of the most important alternatives, and what we have to offer are not only beautiful buildings and traditions but also artistic expressions that are together with society and jazz is one of them."

Juan Alzate and jazz

The michoacán saxophonist Juan Alzate, has developed a wide career within the world of jazz. For 25 years he was a teacher at the Conservatory of Roses and is currently a professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the Autonomous University of Querétaro.

His project has taken him to tour the most important stages of Mexico and the world, and to make jazz a way of life until in 2013 he promoted Jazztival, one of the most important festivals in the country.

"It has been my fortune to bring Michoacán jazz to other countries. Jazz is my everything, it's my way of expressing myself. Since I was a child, it became clear to me that you had to be a musician but always with the conviction of being a jazz player. "

He admits that his taste for jazz began at the age of eight, but it was until he was 14 when he started studying music. "The first time I heard jazz, I immediately knew that this is what I want to hear, then touch and then develop and live," he said.

With influences such as John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Miles Dives, and Duke Ellington, the michoacán jazz player invited the music lovers who are just beginning with the taste of this musical genre, to follow closely the album Time Out of The Dave Brubeck Quartet, and to groups and contemporary and commercial musicians such as Spyro Gyra, George Benson, and Nelson Rangell.

Juan Alzate's next projects include continuing to project his music on international stages, recording a new album, creating a method for teaching saxophone and jazz, and continuing to consolidate Jazztival.