More connections and on to Mexico!

March 22, 2014

I'm on my first of three flights to get me to Morelia, Mexico where I'll hook up with my good friend David Blink and participate in the Morelia Jazztival.  I'm playing accordion and piano in a couple groups and also teaching a piano/arranging workshop.  I know I keep saying this, but what an amazing ride. 

The three piano player hang with Liza and Carlos Garcia didn't happen as planned, but I did go to InterAmerican University and meet with Ramon Sanchez.  He arranges for Marc Anthony and India and travels all over Latin America playing piano and working as musical director for salsa bands.  He's the real deal.  We talked for almost three hours about salsa form, instrumentation, voicings, design, etc.  He's an amazing generous man.  He even gave me a ride home, and when I checked my email later that night, the was an email from him with files of his salsa arrangements, including some songs that I had mentioned I liked.  And these weren't pdf's, these were Finale notation files, meaning I can print parts, tweak, borrow, etc.  Meeting him was a true blessing.  A huge thank you to Juan Carlos.

On Sunday, the 16th, Liza and I went to the National Day of Salsa at a baseball stadium near the Plazas mall.  The place was packed with tens of thousands of people all partying and dancing, like you do.  The top bands of Puerto Rico played, including El Gran Combo, probably the best known of the traditional PR salsa ensembles. 

We made our way through the crowd on the ground level and stopped about halfway to the stage when we found a small open space.  We met a great little family there and I shared my rum concoction I premixed at home.  I learned some new dance steps from the daughter in the group, ate some pinchos (chicken skewers), and listened to some absolutely fabulous bands.

After a couple hours in that spot, we said goodbye and made our way toward the stage.  Liza was determined to get as close as possible.  And we got there.  We were only about one or two people back from the front of the stage for Gran Combo and the festival all-star group, which included Luis Marin, my piano teacher, by the way.  Oh man, what a great day.


Same day...midnight.

Wow.  I am so fortunate to be here.  My first thought is a huge thanks to all of you who supported my journey out here.  I'm in a beautiful Spanish style hotel in Morelia.  I'm the first of the foreigners to arrive here, and actually the only one today.  So I'm spending this night a hotel.  There's a little enclosed, but open air courtyard with a fountain just outside my door.  Huge bed.  I don't have to be anywhere until 1:00pm.  They serve a big breakfast buffet until 11:30.  Oh sleep....  Thank you, universe.  Thank you, mom.  Thank you, Dana.  Thank you, Kirk and Nick.  Huge thanks to all of you who helped make this happen.




Karl Olsen April 03, 2014 @08:46 am
John, your passion and energy for this journey is so obvious as you write. I can feel the emotion and excitement and your depth of engagement, and it feels--in some small way--that we got to experience some of it with you! Well done. So glad you have had the time of your life, and so glad you shared it through this blog. I know I'm arriving late in the game, but thanks so much for writing. Carry on!

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