By: Christine Typadis and Alexander Toth
Berklee touched down in Cape Verde in mid April! This amazing trio including, Chair of the Ensemble Department, Ron Savage, Professor Jetro da Silva and current student Bassist
Alexander Toth performed at the festival, conducted clinics at the University of Cape Verde and exchanged their musical spirits as they learn about the culture and music of this region. The fifth edition of Kriol Jazz Festival was held on April 10th to the 13th and it is brought by a partnership between the City of Praia and Harmonia, Lda. Thanks to the support of the Kriol Jazz festival organizers and Harold Tavares, this was great opportunity for musical exchange!
The international reputation of KJF has grown much throughout the years. It is a scene of Creole inspiration, gathering artists from Cape Verde, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and Africa, also interacting with American and European music, a fusion called Creole Jazz. Numerous international artists, producers, media and specialized press reps from different countries have already taken part to the festival. In 2012 and 2013, Kriol Jazz Festival is recognized listed in the top 25 best world music festivals by British magazine Songlines, confirming KJF is on the good path in becoming a main reference in the network of world music festivals.
Discovering Cape Verde
From the road…
Alexander Toth is in his last semester here at Berklee and gives us his perspective of his travels and first impressions of Cape Verde. What a way to wrap up the spring semester before he walks in about a week for graduation. Congratulations Alexander!
“I’m sitting here in Boston about one week after a life changing musical and cultural experience I had in beautiful Cape Verde. The Ron Savage Trio was invited to perform at the 2013 Kriol Jazz festival. On the map it seemed like such a long way from home but the flight felt pretty short. After stepping off the plane we were greeted by hot sunshine and warm people with a scenic ride to the city of Praia, Santiago.
Day one, we dove straight in, checking out the traditional Cape Verdean music and exhibits at the Atlantic Music Expo. Ron Savage and Jetro Da Silva were interviewed by the local Radio Station. Later on in the week the band had an unforgettable time performing at the Festival. We played in front of an endless stream of enthusiastic audience members. Though our set was quite different from what the locals usually hear, the concert was very well received and unique in the sense that some say they had never even seen an upright bass up close before. It was also a new experience for me to assist the trio in conducting a workshop at the University of Cape Verde. Traditional Jazz language along with the “12 bar blues” was discussed, as well as my audition experience and the time I spent at Berklee. It was a great pleasure to know that the workshop had a huge impact. We met many talented musicians both at the workshop and Jazz Festival.
Aside from performing and meetings, we had the opportunity to get to know so many friendly people who carry a typical Island vibe that is familiar to me coming from Trinidadian roots. It was gratifying to not only have met the Mayor of Praia Ulisses Correia E. Silva, but also the President of Cape Verde Jorge Carlos Fonseca who both also attended our concert. We also had the opportunity to meet with the US Ambassador Adrienne O’Neal during our visit. We had a most memorable day when we visited “Cidade Velha” or the “Old City”, which is the oldest settlement in Cape Verde. It was such a deep cultural experience, as it was the first place to be colonized by the Portuguese, and the main port of Africa during the slave trade.
Although we had a busy schedule, we were fortunate enough to enjoy the beach and tasty seafood, along with jamming with the local musicians at night. I even found some time to pick up some Portuguese and Kriol!! It was nice to trade the offices and practice rooms for the outdoor café “Sophia’s”, where we had many gatherings and great conversation.
I am truly honored to have had opportunity of representing Berklee College of Music with the Ron Savage Trio on this trip to Cape Verde. The memories will last forever!! My deepest gratitude to all of the warm Cape Verdean people I have met, and also a special thanks to Ron Savage and Jetro Da Silva.
For more information about the KJF, follow this link.