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Ted Nash, American saxophonist, flutist, and composer at the Jazz X Art project at the National Museum of Fine Arts. Photo: Talia Castro Cruz

Art is like sugar that sweetens life, revitalizes, awakens emotions and motivates us to be better. Throughout history it has been the inspiration for great works of humanity. It constitutes only one, but we divide it into manifestations, genres and styles, related to each other. What happens when music and plastic arts come together, which apparently have no points in common?

The answer to that question is the alliance between jazz and the plastic arts proposed by the Jazz X Art project, by the American saxophonist, flutist and composer Ted Nash, as part of the program of activities of the Jazz Plaza Festival 2023.

The rooms of the National Museum of Fine Arts, a Cuban Art building, in Havana, became classrooms where students from different schools and levels of education created their own music, between the 24th and 27th of this month.

They had the advice of Ted Nash and Cuban professionals such as Alejandro Falcón, Arnulfo Guerra and Ruy López Nussa, members of the Cubadentro group.

Visitors were able to enjoy the permanent exhibits and jam sessions. It is the first time in Cuba that a collaboration of this type is carried out between Cuban and American musicians and an art museum. “Music connects us as people, being together sharing creativity is my goal,” Nash said.

«The musicians and students have made a good team. For them I think it has been a unique opportunity to play with an artist like Ted Nash and learn from other cultures. It is a good experience that will serve them in their future as performers and music professionals,” declared Alejandro Falcón, pianist with the Cubadentro group and professor at the National School of Art (ENA).

Many of these apprentices faced the challenge of composing for the first time, professionally; to which is added the complexity of being inspired by the pictorial art in front of them. “It is a very free and spontaneous process. It is about improvising and letting yourself be carried away by the whole vibe of the museum. Being in a place where everything is art, I become a sponge, because I want to absorb everything and thus reflect it in the music,” said Betsy Iglesias Gutiérrez, a first-year clarinet student at the Higher Institute of Art (Isa), a participant in the event.

Both the students and the teachers interacted to form, as a whole, the musical repertoire that was presented in a unique concert, in the courtyard of the center. The meeting was dedicated to the 170th anniversary of the birth of the National Hero of Cuba, José Martí.

Ted Nash, Cubadentro and ENA students improvised during the Jazz X Art project. Photo: Talia Castro Cruz

Ted Nash, who has visited Cuba and participated in the Jazz Plaza Festival on other occasions, confessed to being an admirer of the Cuban painter Wifredo Lam, mainly his work. The jungle. “Lam’s painting chose me,” Nash said. For this reason, he decided to also dedicate this event to the tribute that is carried out in the museum for the 120th anniversary of the painter’s birth, which takes place until February 26, 2023.

The idea of ​​this project has as its background the one that was carried out in 2016 with works of abstract art from Beijing’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in China, also promoted by Ted Nash.