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My wife and I attended the 2020 Havana Jazz Festival with Chaz Chambers, who operates Havana Music Tours. It was a wonderful experience in every respect. Chaz made arrangements for... read more accommodations and meals, as well as a few touristic activities (walking tour of old Havana, visit to the music conservatory, etc). There were activities from midday until late at night, but tour participants could choose to come along, retreat to their hotel or pension, or set out on adventures of our own choosing. Chaz had anticipated just about every eventuality and all arrangements went off very smoothly.
The tour included passes to hear music afternoons and evenings at a variety of venues in central Havana. Chaz, who himself is a professional drummer, curated the selection of concerts and provided transportation for our group of 7 to and from all the events. The performances, which included both Cuban and foreign musicians were all good and most were excellent. The musical level in Cuba is extraordinarily high. We hear some of these performers on tour in the US and on recordings. But to hear so many of them playing together in a single place in a single week is a privilege.
At present it's much easier than most people imagine for Americans to visit Cuba. You can fly from several US cities to Havana, and you buy a visa at the airport. The US government places restrictions on where you can stay and what you can buy, but these restrictions are easy to work with. Best of all Havana Music Tours looked after all the paperwork, so we never had to give the matter a second thought.
What are you waiting for . . . ?
Not just hype, this is truly a transcendant experience. Havana is a city like no other, and this will give you a glimpse of it’s inner soul beneath the weathered... read more beauty. The local musical culture is, in its own unique way, as incredible and high level as New York City, but there is no way anyone would find half of this on their own without the expert guidance of Chaz Chambers, an accomplished professional drummer, who is an insider in this vibrant thriving scene, and friends with a number of the world class musicians who live and work there. I went to Havana with very high expectations, and these were totally exceeded.
And you will experience this in total comfort - even by American tourist standards— enjoying excellent accommodations and meals, while seeing many of the historical sites, the arts, attending a cuban style rooftop party, with Chaz and some of the very informative local guides he works with. A downside of being an American visiting Cuba is that you are pretty much required to sign up with some licensed sanctioned tour— something i was quite reluctant to do—but in this instance, it becomes an advantage— there is no tour like this one. Highly recommended.