THE CULTURAL EXCHANGE PAVILION SPOTLIGHTS PUERTO RICO IN 2023
Following the cancellation of its 2020 event, Jazz Fest renews its commitment to celebrate Puerto Rico in 2023 through colorful artist demonstrations, live music and dance showcases, parades, cultural displays, photo exhibits and authentic cuisine. Inspired by Alynda Segarra’s 2017 song “Pa’lante” – a fierce ode to her people’s resilience in the wake of hurricane Maria –- Jazz Fest’s celebration of Puerto Rico Pa’lante Puerto Rico! or Onward Puerto Rico! highlights the vibrant music and culture of the island, which remains strong despite the devastating effects of hurricanes, earthquakes, and the pandemic over the past few years.
PHOTO BY RICARDO ALCAREZ
Puerto Rican bomba, plena, salsa and reggaeton rhythms will echo across the Festival grounds with daily parades and live performances on various stages, and inside the Cultural Exchange Pavilion. Reggaeton artist Farruko headlines the musical line-up with 12 bands ranging from Mayaguez’ traditional bomba ensemble La Raȉz to Loiza’s urban bomba sounds of Tribu de Abrante, and from the traditional jibaro repertoire of Conjunto Típico Samaritano to local techno drum band ÌFÉ. Strolling through the Fair Grounds over both weekends, colorful Vejigantes – Puerto Rico’s iconic masked folk characters – will lead daily parades with La Casa de La Plena Tito Matos. Another highlight of the presentation includes Hurray for the Riff Raff’s leader Alynda Segarra drawing from her Puerto Rican roots for a special show at the Cultural Exchange Pavilion.
New this year, the Cultural Exchange Village comes to life outside the performance tent with artist demonstrations, daily parades and samplings of Puerto Rican dishes presented by FOWLMOUTH in collaboration with Carmo Restaurant. Vejigante mask maker Raul Ayala, bomba dress designer Milteri Concepción, and güiro maker Edwin Curbelo will be among a dozen artists and master craftsmen demonstrating their creative process in the Cultural Exchange Village.
While spotlighting Puerto Rico, the Cultural Exchange Pavilion Stage continues to present its signature blend of local and international performers from around the world, with special appearances by Bassekou Kouyate of Mali, Mdou Moctar of Niger, and by Colombian artists Ceferina Banquez and Rey Vellanato & Beto Jamaica.
Edwin Curbelo, Güiro Maker – Quebradillas, Puerto Rico
Believed to have originated in Puerto Rico with the indigenous Taíno people, the güiro is made from a hollowed sun-dried gourd and played by running a drumstick or metal tined fork across the ridges of the instrument, creating a grating sound used to create rhythms. The Puerto Rican güiro provides an essential rhythmic element in genres as distinct as plena, salsa, and jibaro music. Edwin Curbelo comes from a family of artisans and musicians and has been making güiros for 20 years.
Raul Ayala, Vejigante Mask-maker – Loiza, Puerto Rico
The son of renowned mask-maker Don Castor Ayala, Raul Ayala continues in his father’s footsteps by creating traditional vejigante masks made with coconut husks in Loiza, Puerto Rico. The town, located on the northern coast of the island, is recognized for its rich African heritage. Rooted in medieval Spanish folklore, the demon figure of the vejigantes has become a cultural symbol of Puerto Rico.
Kenneth Melendez, Vejigante Mask-maker – Ponce, Puerto Rico
With their characteristic snouts, sharp teeth, and multitudes of horns, Ponce-style vejigante masks have become intricate works of art made out of papier-mâché, using concrete molds that are often passed down from one generation to the next. Kenneth Melendez brings a modern twist to the tradition by incorporating other materials including burlap, wood, royal palm, gourd, foam, plastic, and wire mesh.
Juan Fuentes Molina, Drum Maker – Loiza, Puerto Rico
Juan Fuentes Molina has been making bomba and plena drums for over 40 years. He established his workshop “Taller de la Plena” in Loiza in 1984 and has led drum-making workshops throughout the U.S and abroad in South Korea, Panama, and Europe. At the Festival, Juan demonstrates the transformation of a rum barrel into a bomba drum.
Milteri Tucker Concepción, Bomba Dress Designer – Ponce, Puerto Rico/New York
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Milteri Tucker Concepción is an acclaimed designer, choreographer, and dancer. A master bomba dancer, Milteri started sewing her own skirts based on knowledge passed down by her grandmother. Today, she owns Bombazo Wear, sewing bomba skirts for individual dancers and companies.
MILTERI TUCKER CONCEPCIÓN
DON RIMX MURAL - "TUN CUTUM PÁ"
Don Rimx, Muralist – Orlando, Florida
Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Don Rimx is a street artist known for his distinctive and vibrant style and large-scale murals that combine cultural elements and history with contemporary street art techniques. In 2014, he was commissioned to produce several grand scale murals in the Bryant Park area of New York City and in Oakland, California. Don has exhibited in galleries and museums around the world, and he has worked on a variety of creative projects, including album covers, packaging, and product design.
Maria Rivera Laborde, Mosaic Artist – San Juan, Puerto Rico
Maria Rivera Laborde creates colorful and detailed mosaics scenes depicting the traditions and everyday life of her people in Puerto Rico. Bomba dancers, drummers, and breathtaking flowers are just some of the images she transforms into vibrant and unique mosaics. Maria has exhibited at the Museum of History and at the Carmen Sola de Pereira Cultural Center in Ponce, Puerto Rico.
Rican/Struction – A visual history of Puerto Rican musical culture
Rican/Struction explores the evolution of Puerto Rican music through 50 examples of album cover art from the golden age of the LP. The exhibit pays critical attention to issues of identity and aesthetics through depictions of Boricua people and culture from both the island homeland (“La Isla Del Encanto”) and the diaspora in New York. Rican/Struction places an emphasis on historical context and the unsung graphic artists who helped present Latin music and its attendant socio-cultural themes — to the world. Curated by Pablo E Yglesias, author of Cocinando: 50 Years of Latin Album Cover Art (Princeton Architectural Press, 2005)
Resistencia y Libertá – the evolution of bomba attire from the 17th century to the present.
Both a traditional dance and musical style, Puerto Rican bomba has become a community expression of Afro-Puerto Rican culture. Resistencia Y Libertá highlights the evolution of the bomba attire since the 17th century, with dresses on loan from the Cepeda and Ayala families, who have played an essential role in maintaining bomba traditions on the island. The exhibit is presented by Bombazo Wear, the first brand of bomba and Afro- caribbean skirts founded by Milteri Tucker Concepcion in 2009.
American Boricua by Wanda Benvenutti – The first modern visual history of Puerto Rican life in all 50 states of the U.S.
Derived from the native Taino people’s “Boriken” or “brave noble lord,” the word “Boricua” is a term of pride and endearment Puerto Ricans use for one another. For over 20 years, photojournalist Wanda Benvenutti has been traveling throughout the United States, documenting the Puerto Rican diaspora in black and white photographs and interviews for her first book, American Boricua.
PUERTO RICAN PARADE
LA CASA DE LA PLENA TITO MATOS PARADE
Plena is an urban musical genre with African roots created by the Puerto Rican working class. Plena’s communal and participatory culture is on display at the Festival with plena drummers parading daily throughout the Fair Grounds, accompanied by bomba dancers and Puerto Rico’s iconic vejigante folk characters. The parade group – a collective of some of the best plena and bomba performers on the island – is named after the late master percussionist, revered educator, and lifelong champion of the plena, who passed away suddenly in 2022 at the age of 52. Tito Matos founded La Casa de la Plena, a space dedicated to the history of the Puerto Rican plena and its performers, keeping Puerto Rican traditions alive and training the next generation of Pleneros.
Friday April 28 3:50 PM – 4:35 PM
Saturday April 29 3:50 PM – 4:35 PM
Sunday April 30 3:40 PM – 4:35 PM
Thursday May 4 3:50 PM – 4:35 PM
Friday May 5 3:55 PM – 4:35 PM
Saturday May 6 2:10 PM – 3:10 PM
Sunday May 7 3:50 PM – 4:30 PM
PHOTO BY RICARDO ALCAREZ
CARMO & FOWLMOUTH NEW ORLEANS
APRIL 28 - 30 & MAY 4 - 7, 11 AM - 7 PM
TRIFONGO WITH PORK
TRIFONGO WITH SHRIMP
TRIFONGO WITH VEGETABLES
STELILLO DE POLLO GUISADO
PASTELILLO DE GUAYABA CON CREMA
Made of fried ripe plantains, green plantains, and yucca mashed with garlic and olive oil, trifongo will be served with a choice of shrimp, pork or vegetables. Trifongo is a version of the better-known mofongo, which history reflects the multicultural make-up of Puerto Rico. Fufu, a dish made with boiled root vegetables pounded into balls of dough and served as a side to meat or stews, was introduced to the island by enslaved West Africans during the Spanish colonization period. Local inhabitants adopted and transformed it, using the mortar and pestle from the indigenous Taíno people to mash together the ingredients, and frying it rather than boiling it. A Spanish sauce made with onions, garlic, and peppers was added to create today’s most famous Puerto Rican dish.
TRIBU DE ABRANTE
SATURDAY APRIL 29
1:50 PM – 2:35 PM
LA CASA DE LA PLENA TITO MATOS
SUNDAY APRIL 30
3:55 PM – 4:05 PM
PUERTO RICAN PARADE LA CASA
DE LA PLENA TITO MATOS
SATURDAY MAY 6
12:35 PM – 1:20PM
SATURDAY MAY 6
2:25 PM – 2:40 PM
PUERTO RICAN PARADE CASA
DE LA PLENA TITO MATOS
PHOTO BY PAOLA NOGUERAS
FOOD HERITAGE STAGE
FRIDAY APRIL 28
MAMPOSTEAO (PUERTO RICAN JAMBALAYA)
THURSDAY MAY 4
TRIFONGO RELLENO DE CEVICHE
FRIDAY MAY 5
ARROZ CON GANDULES (RICE W/ PIGEON PEAS)
Ozzie Louis Mendoza Diaz