Maya Jazz Festival heats up Mexico

Randy Brecker.
Photo by Fernando Aceves
Photo by Fernando Aceves

When one speaks of Mexico, they describe images of cascading waterfalls flowing into aquamarine colored sea waters abound.

A place where beautiful beaches, if they were to talk, would tell the tales of many romances, some with happy endings, others with a trail of broken hearts. Where people dance to the music played by mariachi bands, or other Latin-influenced sounds.

A region which, through the innovativeness and intelligence of the indigenous Aztec and Mayan peoples, boasted of a civilization, long before the arrival of Spanish conquistadores such as Hernan Cortes, who to use a modern term, committed acts of genocide against the native people.

But the uninitiated would be surprised to discover that Mexico, which is also mad about football and corrida del toros (bull fighting), has developed over the years, a love relationship with jazz. This is the only explanation one could give to the excitement associated with the annual Riviera Maya Jazz Festival, which took place at the Mamitas Beach Club in Playa del Carmen on Nov. 24, 25, and 26, 2011.

Richard Bona.
Photo by Fernando Aceves
Pedro Gonzalez Castillo

This expose of a type of music, which traces its origins to the U.S. city of New Orleans, attracts an enthusiastic jazz-loving crowd every year. Jazz aficionados and others, were treated to a variety of genres and influences which had a tranquilizing effect on its devotees.

The thousands of patrons who celebrated the ninth edition of the festival, were treated to offerings from an international cast of musicians representing several countries including, México, USA and Brazil. Yellow Jackets, Stanley Clarke and Richard Bona were among those artistes who received rapturous applause from their fans.

The Maya Jazz Festival is unique not only because patrons are able to enjoy great music free of charge, but also due to the other attractions in this scenic Yucatan Peninsula of Quintana Roo, which are all within reach, and serve as incentives for people to return year after year. After consuming ample portions of pulsating music, a stay at Rosewood Mayakobá is a must. This beautiful place is surrounded by a jungle, which has an alluring, perhaps haunting effect on those who dear to peek into its majesty.

If one had a penchant for being spoilt, this is the place to become rotten. Upon arrival guests are pampered. You are transported by luxury boats or golf carts to your own personal sanctuary. The mantra of the officials is to ensure that guests are able to unwind and feel rejuvenated. This is very much appreciated, especially for those who left the cold and wintry conditions north of the Rio Grande (Rio Bravo del Norte) to visit Mexico.

Stanley Clarke.
Photo by Fernando Aceves
Photo by Fernando Aceves

While being pampered, you are reminded that after consuming delicious foods such as tacos and ceviche at Los Aguachiles restaurant, it is important to keep the body and mind in equilibrium with each other. For these reasons, a fully equipped gym, sauna, steam room, jacuzzi, cold plunge pool and yoga classes are on offer to all those who recognize the importance of a holistic approach to living.

Jazz music is about passion, love and also about history. It is not surprising therefore that some fans journeyed to Tulum to visit the ruins of Mexico’s ancient civilization. Here one was able to examine the remains of the Frescoes, El Castillo (The Castle), and the Temple of the Descending God associated with Ah Muuzen Caab (god of the bees), and Quetzalcoatl in his dedication to Venus.

For those who are not enthused by history or archaeology, a trip to Hidden Worlds amusement park was their adventure. At that location they were able to have a ride on the Avatar, the newest ride that was invented at Hidden Worlds. It is like a roller coaster where gravity is your source of power. When you launch from the platform you begin to fall and your harness catches you only to position you for the next drop-off.

After their sojourn in the land of Montezuma, visitors were convinced that they had witnessed a world-class jazz festival, which was true to its name, unlike some of the more famous ones, which are mere misnomers. Some of these festivals rely on jazz merely for marketing purposes, but embrace all other musical forms, with jazz sometimes serving as a footnote.

Coral King zipling at Hidden Treasures.

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