I had the pleasure of being a teacher and performer for the XII Encuentro Latinoamericano de Contrabajos, which took place in Tijuana, Mexico from October 28 – November 2, 2017.
This event was organized and hosted by my wonderful friend and colleague Andrés Martín, who began the festival over a decade ago as part of his Contrabajos de Baja California organization. It was a fantastic week of friendship, learning, and inspiration.
Here’s a look at some of the week’s musical highlights, followed by day-by-day details.
Friday, October 27
I set out in my car early in the morning from my San Francisco home, managing to avoid the nasty Bay Area rush hour. After slogging through Los Angeles traffic (no escaping that for me!), I headed south to San Diego and met up with Barry Green.
Barry and I picked up Diego Zecharies from the San Diego airport and met up with Pablo Enrique, who was helping Andrés throughout the festival. Pablo, Diego, and I crossed the US-Mexican border and arrived in our hotel in Tijuana happy and ready for a week of music making.
Diego and I have known each other online for years, and it was an honor and a pleasure to get to spend time with this amazing person and artist. What a player, what a teacher, and what an all-around great guy!
Saturday, October 28
Andrés met us in the morning at the hotel as the festival began to get going.
As the students started to arrive, the faculty gathered at Andrés for the first of many outstanding meals. Renowned tango bassist Christian Esquivel did the honors at the grill, and after an afternoon of good food and company we headed to the Centro de Artes Musicales. This would be home bass for the majority of the festival.
I had the pleasure of kicking things off for the festival with a master class. It was fantastic to meet all of these wonderful bassists from Mexico City, Tijuana, and other parts of the country!
Later that night, we headed out to check out the Damian Torres Quinteto perform on the beach.
Sunday, October 29
The festival began full-force on Sunday, with master classes from Christian Esquivel and Darren Cueva. We also kicked off bass quartet rehearsals. I worked with a wonderful and talented group of young bassists from Mexico City. We played the David Anderson Bass Quartet and it rocked!
The official opening recital took place that evening, and hearing Andrés, Diego, Barry, and the other faculty members was incredibly inspiring. I have to pinch myself in situations like this to remind myself that I’m not dreaming!
Monday, October 30
Jeremy Kurtz-Harris, a longtime friend of both Andrés and me, came down to Tijuana for a master class with the students. I also presented a class about building an online career and a Q&A about what the bass community could to do better serve the Latin American community. I came out of this session with some fascinating and extremely helpful takeaways.
We ended this evening with a wonderful recital featuring Hutchins Consort Founder and Artistic Director Joe McNally (interview coming soon!) and Barry Green. Barry played the Anna’s Promise suite, which Andrés wrote and recently adapted for solo double bass and piano.
Tuesday, October 31
As kids donned Halloween costumes, we continued with more quartet rehearsals, master classes, and a wonderful recital from Diego. Here’s a short excerpt of Diego and Andrés performing duets from Simon Garcia.
Wednesday, November 1
Mark Dresser, one of my all-time favorite musicians, came down for a masterclass and performance at the festival. Here’s a short clip, and you’ll be hearing an interview from Mark for the podcast soon!
The excellent and creative Mexican bass quartet Kiss My Bass performed several selections on this evening’s concert. It was a real pleasure to get to know these four fine musicians. I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more from them in the future!
Thursday, November 2
The festival concluded at the Centro Cultural Tijuana with great solos, orchestral selections, quartets, and tangos. Here’s a clip of Andrés and Christian that captures a bit of the magic and excitement.
It was an honor to be a part of this first-class festival and to get to work with some of Mexico’s finest students and professionals. Putting on an event like this takes a tremendous amount of sacrifice and dedication, and my sincere thanks goes out to Andrés, Pablo, and the others who made this event happen. The double bass community in Mexico and further afield is lucky to have such an inspiring artist working to make this kind of magic happen.
I’ve interviewed many of the festival faculty in the past, and I’ll be releasing episodes with Diego Zecharies, Mark Dresser, Joe McNally, and Christian Esquivel in the near future.
If you’d like to learn more about some of the faculty at this event, you can dig into some of the past episodes below.
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