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Esperanza Spalding headlines 2016 Jazz Festival

Esperanza Spalding_Photo by Holly AndresFour-time Grammy Award winner Esperanza Spalding will be among the outstanding performers as the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary with five nights of free concerts Nov. 8-12.

Presented by the Dominican Ministry of Tourism, the popular event has been attracting audiences of 10,000+ music lovers, making it one of the largest jazz festivals in the Caribbean.

For its 20th edition, the festival will make its first appearance in the nation’s thriving capital of Santo Domingo, where it will open on Tuesday, Nov. 8, on the breeze-swept Plaza España in the heart of the Colonial Zone, a UNESCO World Heritage site. From there, the event moves to its traditional venues on the North Coast.

This year’s featured performer is Spalding, an American bassist who at age 31 has already recorded seven collaborative and five solo albums while picking up four Grammys.

The all-star lineup includes saxophonist Lihi Haruvi (Israel), the Tia Fuller Quartet (USA), the Patricia Zarate Quintet (Chile), Pat Pereyra and her band (Dominican Republic), the Berklee Global Jazz Institute with special guests JoAnne Brackeen (piano) and Grammy Award-winning drummer Terri Lyne Carrington (USA); vocalist Sabrina Estepan (Dominican Republic), The Big Band Conservatory of Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), a special quartet with Geri Allen, Terri Lyne Carrington, Ingrid Jensen and Linda Oh (USA), and Enerolisa Núñez and her group (Dominican Republic), who will perform folkloric Dominican music.

In addition to their evening performances, many festival artists conduct daytime workshops for Dominican children, teaching them a few basic concepts and introducing them to the magic of creating music themselves.

Several hundred children attend the workshops, which are presented through the festival’s affiliation with FEDUJAZZ, a nonprofit foundation that provides music education for Dominican youth. Enrollment in the FEDUJAZZ music program in Cabarete recently expanded to more than 200 students.

Here is the schedule for this year’s festival; all concerts start at 8 p.m.:

  • Tuesday, Nov. 8, at Plaza España in Santo Domingo.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 9, at Centro León in Santiago.
  • Thursday, Nov. 10, at Parque Independencia in Puerto Plata.
  • Friday and Saturday, Nov. 11-12, on the beach in Cabarete.

Since its debut in 1997, the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival has presented internationally renowned Latin Grammy and Grammy Award-winning musicians such as Ignacio Berroa, Joe Lovano, Chuck Mangione, Ray Baretto, Néstor Torres, Chucho Valdés, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez and Arturo Sandoval among many other talents.

The 20th annual Dominican Republic Jazz Festival is presented by the Ministry of Tourism, and sponsors include Ron Macorix, JetBlue, the United States Embassy, Berklee Global Jazz Institute, Gratereaux Delva & Associates Law Firm, Sea Horse Ranch Luxury Resort, Ultravioleta Boutique Residences, Millennium Resort & Spa, Casa Linda, the Municipality of Sosúa, the Ministry of Culture, CICOM, Cibao Recycling, BanReservas and the National Gallery of Fine Arts.

The festival is free, but VIP tickets are available and include priority seating, complimentary beverages and other festival perks, with proceeds benefiting FEDUJAZZ. For more information visit

Free music education reaches more than 200 North Coast kids

Previously on the waiting list for free music education, dozens of additional students are taking classes in guitar, drums, piano and violin in FEDUJAZZ’s new center in Cabarete.

FEDUJAZZ, the music education foundation of the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival, increased enrollment this year by 73 students for a total of nearly 225 North Coast children.

The programs, divided into five age groups for kids 7-18, aim to educate children with structured music programs that enhance their education and increase their opportunities in life.

Berklee Global Jazz Institute brings kids to their feet. Photo: Matt Bokor

Berklee Global Jazz Institute leads workshop for kids in 2014

The annual Dominican Republic Jazz Festival not only provides five nights of free concerts, many of its performers lead daytime music workshops for children. During the 2015 festival, over 1,500 schoolchildren attended music workshops presented by renowned musicians.

Coming up in November, the 20th anniversary of Dominican Republic Jazz Festival will include a show in Santo Domingo. This will be the first time the event, a North Coast fixture, will be presented in the nation’s capital. Festival dates and cities are:

• Nov. 8, Santo Domingo

• Nov. 9, Santiago

• Nov. 10, Puerto Plata

• Nov. 11 & 12, Cabarete

Since its inception, the festival has presented internationally renowned Latin Grammy and Grammy Award-winning musicians such as Ignacio Berroa, Joe Lovano, Chuck Mangione, Ray Baretto, Nestor Torres, Chucho Valdes, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez and Arturo Sandoval among many other talents.

The event, the largest of its type in the Caribbean, is presented by FEDUJAZZ and the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism.