Jazz for the ages in Puerto Vallarta

When I was young and going off to the peace corps, among the few records we took with us to Chile were of Miles Davis and Nina Simone.  We were treated by a friend to a live performance by John Coltrane in Harlem on our way out of the country.  Being on the cusp of the Rock revolution we were still great jazz fans.

Among my heroes of jazz this year are several who played important roles in promoting and protecting jazz during their lives and are probably largely unsung even by most jazz fans.  Two of them are Charles Delaunay and Ira Sabin.

Jazz recordings were very hard to come by in France at the time, as the music was mostly American. In 1934 with fellow enthusiast Hugues Panassie, Charles Delaunay

founded Le Club Hot de France, a group of jazz fans dedicated to listening to and promoting the acceptance of traditional jazz, swing and blues in France.  He became a great friend and fan of the now super famous Django Reinhardt and encouraged and promoted him throughout his career.

Delaunay’s recording studio Swing was the first recording company ever to dedicate itself exclusively to jazz. Without Delaunay, it might be said the world would not have known the music of Django Reinhardt and many others.

When Ira Sabin was 14 and already an amateur drummer, a neighbor took him to New York on an errand and left him in a club while he conducted his business.  It turned out both Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker were playing.  Sabin was blown away.  He had his musicians union card by age 16.

Sabin later established a record store in Washington DC, Sabin’s Discount Records, that became a significant meeting place for jazz fans and musicians.  He began writing a handout dealing with music and new record releases and was soon joined by music writers who contributed to an expanded effort called Radio Free Jazz which became the very popular Jazz Times and to which Dizzy Gillespie was one of the first subscribers. 

During the period when jazz was being edged out by the British music invasion, his efforts were instrumental in keeping the music alive.

The importance of those who make an effort to spread the joy of the music they love cannot be over estimated.  Here in Puerto Vallarta we have many people supporting and promoting new music and certainly Doña Esther, (Teté to her friends) owner of Cuates y Cuetes is one of those individuals.  When she was 13, she was turned on to music by her teacher and mentor Don Julio Cabrera.

Fifteen years later in an open patio with one palm tree (which still stands as part of the present structure) and 20 tables in the same location of the present Cuates y Cuetes, she opened her restaurant/bar where she sang the first night. Her brother also played there in the beginning.  Soon she added more music including Don Julio, Beverly y Willow and other well known musicians in the Puerto Vallarta area.

Not only does Doña Esther provide great talent nightly the opportunity to play at her beachside restaurant but each year on March 21, this will be the 23rd jazz festival held on the beach in front of the restaurant.  This is a free and fun event lasting all day and into the evening.

In weeks surrounding the celebration the groups participating are featured at the restaurant/bar where all enjoy an intimate performance by some of the best talent around. This years lineup is yet to be announced but will most certainly include regulars like Tatewari’s fiery flamenco, Faralae’s jazz manouche from Mexico City, the big band sounds of Proyecto Jorge “Tito” Rodriguez out of Monterrey, and Puerto Vallarta’s own Julio Cabrera.

Cuates y Cuetes

Francisco Rodriguez 101, next to the Pier in the Zona Romántica.

For more details: vallartasounds.com