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The Countdown For Curaçao North Sea Jazz 2016 Has Begun

Branford Marsalis
Branford Marsalis

WILLEMSTAD (CSN) -- The island of Curaçao is getting into gear for the seventh edition of the most prestigious music event: the Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival.

Although it’s summer all year round in the ‘pearl of the Caribbean’, the island’s inhabitants cut the year in half and take some time off during the month of July to spend quality time with their family and recharge for the second part of the year. As soon as August sets in everything seems to be focused on the long awaited music extravaganza Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival.

During the previous six years, a little over 100 top-class acts of all over the world passed the revue on one of the stages built adjacent to the pristine beaches of Curaçao. The groups, singers and musicians who have been part of the line ups of the previous six editions are simply to many to list, but names that immediately come to mind are Lionel Richie, John Legend and Nile Rodgers, who fell in love with the people of Curaçao and the special ambiance of the festival: he returned for two editions. We can also mention music legends as Sting, Carlos Santana, Stevie Wonder and Prince. The latter, who gave an unforgettable performance just two years back, showed much interest in returning to the island and the festival, left us early this year for concerts in higher spheres. With this we don’t want to discredit the more than 100 acts that passed the revue during the previous six editions of CNSJF for they all are unique performers, but simply too many to mention.

This year the organizers Fundashon Bon Intenshon, a non-profit foundation presided by music lover and well-known entrepreneur Gregory Elias, assisted from year one, by Mojo Events from the Netherlands, have again managed to put together a well-balanced and varied program for CNSJF 2016. Although it’s almost impossible to cater every music taste, every year visitors from all over the world enjoy the festival and are short of words to describe the unique experience of the festival.

The dates for this year’s festival are 1,2 and 3 September and everything indicates that the seventh edition of CNSJF will be a September to remember as sung by the late Maurice White of Earth Wind & Fire, a band which also performed at CNSJF.

During three consecutive days, sixteen world-class acts will be presenting the best of their talents and repertoire to the people of Curaçao who will receive them with the warmth the island’s inhabitants are well-known for. The organizers recently announced that international ticket-sales showed that again the goal of a fifty-fifty blend of locals and visitors will be met. As Mr. Elias always states; “it is a festival for the people, by the people”. This is enforced by the unique way people from many parts of the world add to multi-cultural mix of the island’s people as they stroll from one stage to another and experience as much as possible all the festivals offers.

This year’s festival will kick-off on Thursday 1st of September with concerts by Juan Luis Guerra and Kassav. Although these ambassadors of Caribbean music have performed on more than one occasion at CNSJF and on numerous occasions on the island, a quick survey indicated that the people of Curaçao want to dance and sing to the music of these two legendary Caribbean music ensembles. Every year the foundation Fundashon Bon Intenshon gives away 5000 tickets for the first day of the event and this year people were camping from the night before and standing in line for hours and hours to get a hold of their entrance ticket.  The remaining 5000 tickets are reserved as a special token of appreciation for the fans which but tickets for both the Friday and Saturday events.

The line-up for the Friday program features on the Sam Cook stage: The Cuban Affair, a special music project under the direction of Sergio George. This great music producer, together with his business partner Gregory Elias, signed for the Salsa Giants project at which Salsa music icons performed during the CNSJF a few years ago. The rehearsal, which took place on Curaçao, and the show were documented on film for a very successful DVD and CD. The Cuban Affair’s performance will be followed by Tom Jones, who’s successful music career spans over more than a half century. The evening on the main stage will be topped off by Chris Brown. In between these top attractions one can stroll to the Celia Cruz stage to enjoy the music of Betty Wright and later on the Branford Marsalis Quartet, featuring Kurt Eling. On the Sir Duke stage, which is built nearly on the beach, the band Level 42 and later on Jamie Cullum will perform the best of their repertoire and well-known hits.

The legendary music composer/producer of innumerable hits Burt Bacharach had to cancel his performance for the Saturday program due to a fracture on one of his hands. He will be replaced by the Venezuelan songwriter Ilan Chester. The Saturday program also features Michael Bolton, the Colombian music star J Balvin, Anthony Hamilton, Charlie Wilson and the unique music ensemble Snarky Puppy. The Saturday event will be topped off by a concert of Lenny Kravitz.

Having said this I have no doubt that we’re in for an unforgettable treat of art and music of the highest level. In case you have not purchased your ticket yet, don’t hesitate another moment, check out the Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival website, the CNSJF Facebook and other communication platforms for more information and book today. Don’t let anybody tell you the next week how great it was, but be there yourself. I can assure you it is a one of a kind experience.