April 25, 2003

Tones of red, live sets and treasured albums: Dijazz

Jazz resurrection in Tijuana

By Mariana Martinez

Red lights shower the club.

To my right, the bar, high chairs and people talking in waves, was creating a currant of sounds bouncing against the walls and splashing the lamps that seem barely there.

In the back, a stage.

On that stage, a small woman with a guitar and long hair. Her voice bends to a sweet Portuguese accent that overthrows the murmurs with its clarity.

She is transparent, lucid, Brazilian.

Her name is Leticia Ivo, and she plays Bossa Nova in this packed bar full of beer, wine snacks and laughter. It is but another Thursday night in Tijuana.

She was there that night, at the Antigua Bodega de papel (Old paper warehouse) to begin the third cycle of Jazz Sessions in this light filled city.

In the beginning there was music.

Dijazz is a group of five friends and music lovers who greatly enjoy classic jazz and jazz-based musical experiments. Discar, Saidel, Serch, Pirivox and Torquemada are the Dijazz “quintet” believe that jazz is a music gender with a different structure from the very beginning and throughout history has managed to stay in the public’s taste and has developed in to many ways of doing jazz music. The experiments derived from the jazz improvisation have greatly influenced the music industry, especially current developments in electronic music, which constantly feed from the hot and organic beats of jazz to enrich their own musical statements.

For each of the Dijazz members, the joys of jazz are far from over: interpretations from it’s primal design keep coming up, developed by young and old musicians, jazz “induced” music has been making our skins just a little happier.

This shared passion lead them to create an organization called Dijazz, to promote and create ways to enjoy and share their love of jazz music. But the question was, how to do this? As many other independent art organizations in México, they had no cash, just good intentions, some friends and each, a personal –and treasured– collection of music, built up in their life time.

In 2002, Discar (Pedro César Beas) along with his brother decided to embark on the economic journey of owning and managing their own bar, Don Loope; a small electronic music bar with dj’s, live performances and Tijuana beer, a chilling oasis among the party mood of Revolution Street. It was there where the Dijazz crew made their first Jazz Session: with no money to pay for live bands, they decided to be dj’s and show their valuable collections of music to the public. They started cooking up amazing Thursday nights with scents of bop, electro, fusion, hard bop, avant garde, soul, bossa, latin and neujazz.

But not only did the music had a wide range of styles, they built up a very different audience for the bar, one that ranged from collage freshmen to university professors, couples in their 40’s and even old Tijuana jazz musicians. They went to Don Loope in search of a good time, a place where it was all about the music.

Dijazz, with just five members has managed to get in to the crowded area of nightly performances in Tijuana, and besides the strong competition for audience has managed to captivate listeners tired of the same and looking for more.

To the surprise of Dijazz, the Jazz Sessions where a huge hit, but only lasted from May to June because the same could not be said for Don Loope, a year after opening, they had to close their doors.

But Dijazz did not have to go down along with Don Loope, with the success they had, they started looking for a new place to call home. By November of that same year they already had a new space called The Old Paper Warehouse, so they started another cycle of Jazz Sessions from November to December.

The Old Paper Warehouse is a little bar and café downtown, on eleventh street, right between Revolution Street and Madero, just a block away from the famous Tijuana Tower. It has a high ceiling and a lot of history blended into Tijuana’s noisy nocturnal present. The building where the bar and café is, was for a long time the warehouse of the Baja California Paper Company and tries to keep its past as a part of the decoration: lamp shades of woven craft paper, paper doors in the bathrooms…and the walls full of poems, drawings, notes from all the people that come to enjoy the vibe and find a bar that is also a huge notebook.

Jazz Sessions III.

Little by little each Dijazz member has helped the search for new jazz evolved creations inviting musicians from Tijuana and San Diego. This Third Jazz Session started out with two consecutive Thursdays of Bossa Nova followed by two dj sessions on the twenty-fourth of April and first of May with Dijazz members showing more amazing tones from their own musical collections. All of that with no cover fee.

May 8 Jazz Sessions will provide the joys of Return to One, an avant garde San Diego based jazz quartet; Lee Elderton (Soprano, Alto, Baritone Saxophones) who has been featured as a concert soloist and works with many University and High School Wind Symphonies thought Southern California. Ward Baxter (Tenor, Baritone Saxophones Bass Clarinet) currently serving as staff arranger for Big Time Operator, the Ira B. Liss Big Band Jazz Machine, Un Solo Son, and the San Diego Saxophone Orchestra. Justin Grinnell in charge of bass and electronics for Return to One and Nathan Hubbard (percussion and live electronics) founding member of the band and part of the improvisers collective Trummer-Flora who currently splits his time between solo recitals, NOD (a found percussion junk trio), Quibble (noise trio), the quartets Return to One and Cosmologic, and the twenty two member Skeleton Key Orchestra.

The night brings promise of pleasure between the nimble fingers of these busy musicians, but just in case they leave us asking for more, May 15 comes the turn of Cosmo-logic, a band where Nathan Hubbard is also involved. This time joined by Jason Robinson (saxophone, flute and electronics) who is a saxophone teacher at UCSD and part of the Critical studies and experimental practices program from the Music Department of UCSD. Michel Dessen who has played with Marcelo Radulovich, Shahrokh Yadegari, M. Abidh Waugh, Jaime Valle, and the Binational Mambo Orchestra and currently finishing his dissertation to obtain a doctorate degree in Critical studies and experimental practices from UCSD. Scout Walton is the last piece of this quartet and has toured with the Ogtagon Ensamble of New Music and now plays with the Vinny Golia Quintet, the Rain Trio and the Unbalancing Act quartet.

Both nights promise to be delicatessen for the soul and will only be two dollars cover. A symbolic price to enjoy a great night out in Tijuana.

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