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The Ultimate Guide to Jazz Week in Buenos Aires

The 11th edition of the International Jazz Fest runs from November 14-19.

By | [email protected] | November 12, 2018 4:35pm


This year marks the 11th anniversary of BA’s International Jazz Festival, and it promises to be bigger than ever with over 18 different venues, hundreds of world-renowned artists, and a selection of brand-new local up-and-comers. Whether you’re a jazz aficionado or not, you are beyond spoiled with choice for the ultimate jazz-filled week. Not only are there world-class concerts at some of the best locations in the city for either a reasonable price or free (!), but this year will also see jam sessions, jazz workshops and classes, interpretation, and a meet-and-greet with jazz giants.

This year is extremely exciting for two reasons. First, Norma Winstone will be opening the festival on Wednesday night at the Usina del Arte, and she will be the first woman to have ever done so in its 11-year history. As Artistic Director Adrián Iaies states, it has been a long time coming: “We owed it to ourselves. It is a milestone in the history of BAJazz, which is why we aimed high with Norma Winstone.”

Cecilia Antón (Credit: Festivales GCBA)

Secondly, the BAJazz Committee has introduced a few new aspects to the festival. One of the most innovative additions includes the series Cruces (Crossings) which will witness an Argentine and an international jazz star performing together in a variety of cafés and bars throughout the city, playing together with a mixture of improvisation and convention allowing for an incredibly spontaneous performance. Leading local jazz venues such as Thelonious Club, Café Vinilo, and Bebop Club welcome great talents. This should be incredibly interesting to see two musicians from different parts of the globe exchanging their art and learning from each other.

As usual, they have a ‘First Take‘ section, which is an open call for artists and ensembles who have never participated in the Festival before. This year, however, they have doubled the number of ensembles compared to BAJazz 2017. Which means that new, up-and-coming Argentine influencers will be performing in incredible venues and community centers like Julián Centeya, Adán Buenosayres, Carlos Gardel and Resurgimiento cultural spaces, as well as the Anfiteatro del Parque Centenario.

There are also some new “special projects,” where the Festival promotes unique experiences with new projects that have not been shown before. This year, local percussion band Paralelo 33° collaborates with two experts: saxophonist Ricardo Cavalli and trumpet-genius Richard Nant.

Wednesday, November 14th

Norma Winstone with her trio

Norma Winstone is a real jazz pioneer with the most distinctive, versatile voice (see video above to really hear her dulcet tones).  Her career has been quite diverse, as she has performed in chamber music ensembles as well as in symphony orchestras and in jazz clubs. She has also performed alongside many jazz giants such as Jimmy Rowles, Kenny Wheeler, and Roland Kirk, to name a few.

This time, Winstone will be accompanied by Italian pianist Glauco Venier and German bass clarinetist and soprano saxophonist Klaus Gesing. The trio ensemble has been together since 2001 and has since established a style of its own as they have a beautifully harmonious, balanced group dynamic. Norma Winstone will also be running a jazz vocal workshop, and Gesing and Venier will be performing their own solo sets on other days this week, in case you want to learn from the pros themselves.

Wednesday, November 14 | 8.30 PM | Usina del Arte Auditorium | Tickets are on sale (AR $200- $300) and you can buy them online here


Thursday, November 15th

Sylvie Courvoisier Trio – D’Agala

Swiss experimentalist pianist Sylvie Courvoisier is accompanied by Drew Gress on the double bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums, celebrating the release of their new album D’Agala. As Courvoisier has been based in Brooklyn for the last twenty years, she balances both American smooth jazz with contemporary experimental music for a complex harmony of sounds. Lausanne-native Courvoisier has shared the stage with musicians such as Fred Frith, Tomasz Stańko and Evan Parker.

Thursday, November 15 | 9 PM  | Usina del Arte Auditorium | Tickets are free and you can reserve them here 


Glauco Venier

Italian pianist Glauco Vernier from Norma Winstone’s trio will be performing a solo set bringing together his rock and classical music roots into his jazz set. He has played with jazz giants like Steve Swallow, Joey Baron, and Lee Konitz, and this promises to be something a little different to his usual trio set

Thursday, November 15 | 5 PM | Teatro Colón, Salón Dorado |  Tickets on sale (AR $200-$300) and you can buy them here


Crossings at Thelonious Club

Argentine flautist, clarinetist, and saxophonist Patricio Bottcher meets Colombian percussionist Kate Ortega, and Argentine Tomás Babjaczuk meets Peruvian pianist Ania Paz and bassist Beto Figueroa, for the ultimate South American showdown. This should be an interesting one to watch as, despite the fact that these Latin American stars are from a similar part of the world, they all have very different styles and tones. Crossings is a fantastic addition to this years line-up, and Thelonious Club is a great place to start with.

Thursday, November 15 | 9.30 PM | Thelonious Club |  Tickets on sale (AR $200-$300) and you can buy them here 


Friday, November 16th

Sylvie Courvoisier Trio (Photo via Republic of Jazz)

Sylvie Courvoisier Solo Piano 

If you haven’t gotten enough of Sylvie Courvoisier’s tinkling piano, you can see her again in her solo set.

Friday, November 16 | 5 PM | Teatro Colón, Salón Dorado | Tickets are free and you can reserve them here 


Gary Smulyan & Mariano Loiácono Quinteto

Trumpeter Mariano Loiáno and his quintet meet baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan for the ultimate jazz mash-up, in what is sure to be high energy and quality performance as all six members of this “cross” are of high caliber, including Smulyan, arguably one of the greatest saxophonists in the world.

Friday, November 16 | 9 PM | Usina del Arte | Tickets are free and you can reserve them here


Saturday, November 17th

Paralelo 33 (Photo via BAJazz18)

Paralelo 33° / Cavalli / Nant 

Saturday is a busy ol’ day. There are many performances scattered over the City, although Usina del Arte in La Boca seems to be the central location of the day. To start things off, Paralelo 33° is an Argentine jazz percussion band formed in 1995 with vibey instruments such as the vibraphone, marimba, steel drum, xylophones drums, and tabla. If, like me, you’re not entirely sure what any of these instruments are (sorry, a vibra what?) then take the opportunity to get to know this rhythmic quartet, who are bound to get you tapping that foot.

They, like many of these jazz stars, are exemplary of a versatile group as they move between 20th-century classical music and back up to classic jazz tracks. In this performance they’ll be teamed up with trumpeter Richard Nant and saxophonist Ricardo Cavalli. This is bound to be one of the highlights of this year’s lineup.

Saturday, November 17 | 2 PM | Usina del Arte, Auditorium | Tickets are free and you can reserve them here


David Kikoski Quartet

Continuing at Usina del Arte is energetic multi-national quartet group David Kikoski Quartet, headed up by Kikoski himself on piano. The American pianist has been labeled a Jazz Talent in New York since his jamming days in the ’80s and nowadays, has linked up with Italian musicians Daniele Germani on alto sax, and Stefano Battaglia alongside Argentine drummer Juan Chivassa. They have been touring around Europe (mostly in home country Italy for Battaglia and Germani) and now continuing the tour in Argentina.

Saturday, November 17 | 5 PM | Usina del Arte, Auditorium | Tickets are free and you can reserve them here


Armando Alonso & Sebastián Peyceré Cuarteto

Moving across to Colegiales at the Espacio Cultural Carlos Gardel, legendary Argentine guitarist Armando Alonso is joined by drummer Sebastián Peyceré, who probably has the biggest claim-to-fame I’ve seen on the long list of jazz stars in this event. In the pinnacle of his career, Peyceré  performed alongside B.B King (!) and Scott Henderson, just to name two. Before I start sweating with excitement I must quietly remind myself that this doesn’t mean that B.B.King will not, unfortunately, resurrect, but this may well be the closest any of us will get to him. The two legends will be accompanied by bassist Carlos Madariaga and pianist Gustavo Silva.

Saturday, November 17 | 7 PM | Espacio Cultural Carlos Gardel | Tickets are free and you can reserve them here


Sonny Troupé Quartet

To end an excellent day of festivities at Usina del Arte, Caribbean, and East African funk group Sonny Troupé’s Quartet is headed up by French/Guadalupan musician Troupé who juggles about with drums, ‘ka’ (a Creole term for big drum) as well as leading up the vocals as they embark on a homeland twist of Creole gwo-ka fusing with ‘sega’ from Mauritius and soul and Latin rhythms. He will be joined by Maurice bassist Mike Armoogum, Guadalupian percussionist Olivier Juste and Martiniquan Grégory Privat on piano to tune in to those jazzy vibes. This is again one of my personal highlights, as we look forward to witnessing this fusion of East African and Caribbean beats synchronized together with guest flutist Thomas Koeing and Raphael Philibert on alto sax.

Saturday, November 17 | 8.30 PM | Usina del Arte Auditorium | Tickets are free and you can reserve them here

Sunday, November 18th


Usina del Arte is back on being the place to be for this festival. And we start off with Avantango which are a group influenced by African communities in the US, fusing with the spontaneity and improvisation of tango. The group is founded by double bassist Pablo Aslan from the New York improvisation scene and has been a tight-knit group since 1993.

Sunday, November 18 | 4 PM | Usina de Arte | Tickets are free and you can reserve them here

Anat Cohen & Trio Brasileiro

To finish off the weekend, Clarinet virtuoso Anat Cohen has founded a quartet with three remarkable Brazilian musicians (called Trio Brasileiro, to give a big hint of their background) consisting of Douglas Lora (guitar), Dudu Maia (mandolin) and Alexandre Lora (percussion). The trio collaborated with Anat Cohen in 2016 with the release of the album Alegria Da Casa, which is an incredibly upbeat Brazilian vibe that you will want to listen to with an ice-cold Caipirinha and a bowl of açaí. Equally, in 2017 they released the album Rosa Dos Ventos which was impressively nominated for Best World Music Album at the Grammy Awards. This is definitely one not to miss, and you may well fall in love with Brazil here in Buenos Aires (and also want to take up the clarinet: who knew that would be the jazziest instrument?).

Sunday, November 18 | 8 PM | Usina del Arte Auditorium | Tickets are free and you can reserve them here


Crossings at Bebop Club 

At Bebop Club in San Telmo, you can witness the incredible mash-up between French guest members of Sonny Troupé Quartet, Raphaël Philibert and Thomas Koenig, jam with Korean Yoonseung Cho, while Argentine drummer Juan Chiavassa from David Kikoski’s Quartet meets Olivier Juste and Mariano Sívori. I picked this particular ‘crossing’ (cruces)  as one to look out for, as not only is Bebop club an extremely vibey and cool red-lit jazz club, but they have chosen a seriously versatile and interesting bunch from different bands. Besides, if you don’t manage to reserve tickets to the other shows that these stars are playing in, this is the ultimate intimate experience.

Sunday, November 18 | 9.30 PM | Bebop Club | Tickets for sale and you can buy them here


Monday, November 19th

Stefano di Battista Quartet

Stefano di Battista Quartet (Photo via Jazz Fest GCBA)

The closing ceremony is at, of course, Usina del Arte, at 8.30 PM and we end the week with a bang, with the Italian quartet headed up by Stefano di Battista, one of the most respected saxophonists in Europe. The extraordinary Italian musician didn’t actually even start playing the sax until he was 13, and before he knew it he was playing in some of the most exclusive venues in Paris, complete with some French Jazz extraordinaires. Some of his career highlights involve being part of the Elvin Jones Jazz Machine and collaborating with Quincy Jones and Wyton Marsalis, amongst others. He has toured the world and produced nine albums as collaborations and as solo albums since his debut in 1997. He is accompanied by a group of young Italian musicians with Andrea Rea on piano, double bassist Daniele Sorrentino and drummer Luigi Del Prete.

Monday, November 19 | Usina del Arte | 8.30 PM | Tickets on sale and available here 


General Information About Buying & Reserving Tickets

Tickets to this kind of event are relatively confusing as some have different rules, but if you follow the links provided at the end of each suggestion, you’re good to go.

For the opening and closing concert on November 14th and 19th (Norma Winstone Trio and Stefano di Battista Quartet), and the “crossings,” and solo sets you need to pay and reserve your ticket online; however for all the other events held at Usina del Arte, Espacio Cultural Adán Buenosayres, Espacio Cultural Julián Centeya, Espacio Cultural Resurgimiento, Espacio Cultural Carlos Gardel and Museo del Cine the events are free but you need to reserve here.

Admissions to the activities and concerts held at these spaces are free, and there is no reservation required: Plaza de la Usina, Anfiteatro del Parque Centenario, Anfiteatro del Parque Lezama, Feria Barrial de Barrio 31, Feria Barrial de Cildáñez, Feria Barrial de Fátima, Feria Barrial de Barrio 20 and Centro de Jubilados Papa Francisco.

For more information visit the website.