A team of four plays music that only gets better with time

Israel Cupich’s Jazz Quartet presented his latest album “La Danza” as part of the first Jazz Series of the Anglo Arts Centre
Photo: Taken from promotional video
31/08/2017
18:16
Mexico City
EL UNIVERSAL in English/Berenice González
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Israel Cupich’s Quartet is a contemporary jazz ensemble that integrates sounds of the 50s Hard bop scene to its work and sets an example of plurality in music by bringing together musicians from different backgrounds and corners of the world who have made Mexico their home for a number of years now.

Roberto Verástegui, piano, studied at the North Texas University and first arrived in Mexico to the southeastern capital city of Mérida, Yucatán, before moving to Mexico City four years ago.

A native of Argentina, Pedro Cervera, drums, has been living in the Aztec territory for over eight years, making Los Cabos, Baja California his home before moving to Mexico City three years ago.

Saxophonist, Jahaziel Arrocha is from Panama and has been based in Mexico for over two years. He studied at the Berklee College of Music.

With the jazz scene in Mexico being “so small”,  it is very likely that the four musicians met in one of the city’s frequent jam sessions, as Israel Cupich recalls, in an epistolary interview for EL UNIVERSAL in English.

Cupich notes that each of the musicians “brings their own personality and their very particular way of approaching music” which is what ultimately captivated Cupich to provide a repertoire of his own for the ensemble that would become the source material for his latest musical production, La Danza (The Dance).

Like good wine, “La Danza” needs no bush, as it is “an honest work that has been developing for some time now” and was originally designed to be played in a quartet ensemble format. Cupich, Verástegui, Cervera, and Arrocha have been playing each of “La Danza” themes together for over half a year in a “language that renders itself organically for the musicians to play” as noted by jazz drummer Pedro Cervera.

For their part, Verástegui and Arrocha, jazz pianist and saxophonist respectively, coincide that the chemistry of the people involved in the production and performance of the album has contributed to its cohesion as they all feel part of an ensemble that flows with each of the compositions created by Cupich.

THE MAN BEHIND THE DOUBLE BASS

Israel Cupich is strongly influenced by the jazz produced in the 50s-post Bebop and Hard bop styles- and was introduced to the exploration and fundamentals of playing the double bass by renowned jazz player and professor Sósimo Hernández. Cupich remembers how he attended a jazz concert many years ago where the Mexican Jazz Quartet was playing, led by professor Francisco Téllez who later became Cupich’s professor at the Mexico High School of Music (ESM).

Cupich believes the jazz scene in Mexico has thrived since he started his career. “Nowadays, there are more young jazz musicians who are better equipped and more committed to their craft. There is certainly more competition these days, and, yet, not everyone in the scene is fond of playing this particular style of music, we are part of the happy few, still.”

Despite the fact, the Mexico audience for jazz has grown Cupich believes that jazz listeners are still not enough, “Jazz is very trendy right now, so we definitely have to seize the moment. Yet, in a place the size of Mexico City I believe the audience is still not enough.”

CREATING A COMMUNITY OF ITS OWN

In 2015 Cupich co-founded JazzMx a collective aimed at “creating a sense of community for the whole of the jazz players who go through many obstacles, and which could benefit the jazz community in Mexico.”

Since its creation, JazzMx has held anything from master classes with professional jazz musicians to jam sessions that allow young jazz musicians in the making to interact with more experienced and renowned figures.

For Israel Cupich, JazzMx has provided Mexico with a long sought jazz identity that distinguishes the Mexico jazz scene from the rest of the world.

We look forward to the Second Festival of JazzMx to be held on October 21 in iconic “Esperanza Iris” Music Hall in downtown Mexico City.

Israel Cupich Jazz Quartet presented its latest album “La Danza” (The Dance) in the Anglo Arts Centre, as part of the Anglo Arts first Jazz Cycle.

We are grateful to the Anglo Arts Jazz Cycle programmer, Oscar Adad, for making the epistolary exchange possible with Israel Cupich for this interview.

Stay tuned for more interviews with the people behind this exciting musical experience in our social media:
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