A performance to remember, the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival 2018 brings together a collection of the finest voices, musicians and performers here in Playa del Carmen, Mexico for three jazz fun-filled nights – November 30, December 1st and 2nd, playing to huge crowds from all ages. This festival has been going on since 2003 and is FREE.
The lineup this year included:
November 30th – Bebel Gilberto, Lori Williams & Bob Baldwin, Kike Pat, un Maya en el Jazz
December 1st – Norah Jones, Paca Rosas & PK BAND, Christina Morrison, Drew Tucker & The New Standard
December 2nd – Bobby McFerrin, Lalah Hathaway, Pepe Hernandez
If you are fortunate enough to be able to attend all three nights, then you are in for a musical delight.
For those of us (myself included), we couldn’t make all three nights, and this is what we missed.
With her solo debut release in 1986, Bebel Gilberto continues to wow her audiences worldwide. The Brazilian American singer/songwriter has won many Grammy awards. Her breakout album Tanto positions her as one of the top Brazilian artists in years leading the way for her other albums such as Abel Gilberto in 2004, Momento (Six Degrees 2007), All in One (Verve) which brought her a Grammy nomination, and Tudo, released in 2015. She also performed a live concert on the beaches of Rio in 2014.
LORI WILLIAMS & BOB BALDWIN
Williams hails from Washington DC and is a vocalist with show appearances in Western Europe, Austria, Russia, and Germany. Her latest disc is “Out of the Box” and is produced by Bob Baldwin.
Bob Baldwin is a New York Pianist/Arranger, has recorded on 5 continents, and is celebrating 30 years. ‘Abbey Road and the Beatles’ is Bob’s brand new disc featuring Lori on vocals.
Together they create ‘magic.’
KIKE PAT – UN MAYAN EN EL JAZZ (A Mayan in the Jazz)
In this performance Kike Pat, pianist and composer, will be playing with his Mexican band of 3 great musicians (born in the heart of the Mayan Riviera) and sharing the stage with a string section headed by Ukraine Sofia Lych; Jorge Brauet (Cuba) will be heading the section of metals.
Norah Jones, an American singer, songwriter, and pianist, has sold over 50 million records worldwide and is a 9-time Grammy winner. She made her debut in 2002 with “Come Away With Me.” Included amongst her solo albums are 2004 – Feels Like Home; 2007 – Not Too Late; 2009 – The Fall; and 2012 – Little Broken Hearts. Her album in 2016 – Day Breaks features her back at the piano. Her music is a blend of country, folk, rock, soul and jazz.
PACOS ROSAS AND PK BAND
This band is comprised of Paco Rosas who plays guitar, Ivan Barrera on Bass, Ricardo Erdos on drums, Tomas Krumm on the keyboard and Felix Betauncourt on the Saxophone. Their music embraces a mixture of Blues, Fok and Progressive Rock.
Hailing from Miami and currently residing in New York, Christina is an actress, singer/songwriter, and producer. Her accomplishments include graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts; a Founder and Executive-Director of El Socavon de Guapulo Thetre Foundation in Quito Ecuador; a double nominee for Best Vocal Jazz Album and Best Vocal Jazz Song for her second album ‘Baronesa.’
Part of the proceeds of her albums supports ‘Arteducarte’ which is an educational program through the arts in public schools in Isabela Island, Galapagos.
DREW TUCKER AND THE NEW STANDARD
This Florida-based group features the uncommon vibraphone (a percussion instrument with a double row of tuned metal bars, each above a tubular resonator which contains a motor-driven rotating vane, causing a vibrato effect), and the tuba as the instruments to capture their audiences. The vibraphone is an instrument that blends together soul, funk, jazz, and hip-hop. Drew is the incentive behind the development of the Arts Garage in Delray Beach, the Bailey and Ali Cultural Arts Center, and Old School Square.
Bill Muter is “the tuba player that can beatbox to any hip song” and plays in venues such as Tubavisionary. His book, “A Practical Approach: Brass Pedagogy Book” is a best seller.
Claude Louis is the Saxophonist in the group and will be releasing his first album in 2018. Some of his performances include FIU, Jacksonville Jazz, and Ground UP. Using music as a means of education, he is the coordinator of the Miami Music Project, empowering children in the Little Haiti area of Miami.
Rounding out the group is drummer Marcus Grant, who hails from West Chester Pennsylvania and now living in Miami. He has shared the stage with Nicole Henry, Nestor Torres, and Shelly Berg.
This ten-time Grammy winner icon has been entertaining for years. His style is between pop music and fine art and he plays barefoot in some of the best concert halls around the world. You probably know Bobby from his Cappella hit “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” What you may not know is that he grew up with music – his dad was a Metropolitan Opera Baritone (Robert McFerrin) and was the singing voice for Sydney Poitier in Porgy and Bess; mom was a soprano soloist and voice teacher.
As a child, he learned the clarinet and the piano at age 14 which was the start of his pianist career. Doing his own ‘thing,’ Bobby has improvised on national television, sang songs without words, and impulsively invented parts for 60,000 choral singers in a stadium in Germany.
His latest album “spirityouall” is bluesy and embraces his rock, folk and blues influences.
8 thoughts on “The Riviera Maya Jazz Festival 2018”
OMG I love Norah Jones, I can only imagine how sad you are that you were right there but missed out on seeing her perform. Haven’t been to this festival before and didn’t even know about it! Thank you so so much for this awesome recap as now I will be sure to add that to my list of things to plan my trip around next year.
Per chance, have you attended any jazz festivals in Texas (where I live) that you might recommend?
Hi Desa. I know, I just want to kick myself that I didn’t know early enough to go. It is always held in late November so keep an eye out for the dates.
As far as Texas goes, sorry, I don’t know. Do you belong to any Facebook groups in Texas. I find if you put out a question, people will be glad to jump in with an answer. Good luck and I hope you make it to Mexico next year.
Hey there, This was a really thorough and enjoyable read and the music festival sounds absolutely amazing. I do have a question though, sorry if i just missed it the the article, but where exactly in mexico is Playa del Carmen. Again sorry if i missed it in the article, but I was just wondering since this concert sounds great and would like to plan something near it next year. Thanks for Great article.
Hi. Mike. Playa del Carmen is an hour south of Cancun. I am staying in Puerto Morelos which is halfway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
The concert is always held in late November so if you keep an out eye, they will announce the 2019 dates (they may already have them). Hope you get to visit next year.
This sounds like a dream come true. I would have loved to go there too.
My wife and I talk about traveling all the time but it’s so expensive although we prefer not to wait now that we’re retired.A jazz festival in Mexico!This is a once in a lifetime happening.
We were only to Mexico once on a cruise, so this would be awesome!It’s great to travel to different places but you really want to enjoy yourself wherever you go and we should just make it happen somehow.Moving to Florida to retire was a dream come true. I’m sure we can make this happen too!
So many people wait to travel. We did. We started in about 2013. We are retired as well but you know it isn’t all about the money. We have been to Jamaica, Dominican twice, Florida (just for a hockey tournament), Costa Rica 3 times, Nova Scotia 6 times and now Mexico (our first). If you are willing to live like the locals, and remember you are in another country and not expect what you have back home, you would be amazed at how much cheaper it is to live. It is cheaper to live here for us than it is to live in Canada. However, we do go back because of our health care but we are also looking into alternatives to that. Nice that you are retired in Florida. Hope you can make it to Mexico.
A big hello to you, Mary.
I couldn’t get to the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival for 2018 myself but I’m super glad I found your website.
You made me feel as I was there and loved all the videos of the numerous stars that appeared over the 3 nights.
I love travelling to the USA at least once every 2 years and a trip down to mexico looks like it will be on the cards.
Do they hold the Maya Jazz Festival every year as I would hate to miss this gala event?
Many thanks, Jeff.
Hi Jeff. Thanks for stopping by. I am glad you enjoyed the recap. Yes, the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival is held every year – it started in 2003 and is always held in late November. Hopefully, you will be able to make it next year. It is quite an experience.