KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- With a little more than three months to go before the Kansas City Kansas Community College Jazz Band hits the road to Cuba, fundraising has stepped into overdrive.
“Travelling to Cuba is a first for many,” said Jim Mair, professor of music and director of instrumental studies at KCKCC. “Many of our students have never left the Midwest. Going to Cuba is a bonafide ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ for most. Plus it’s a great honor to be invited to the 30th annual Havana Jazz Festival. We may be the only college band performing in the festival.”
The KCKCC Jazz Band was invited to perform at the 2014 Havana International Jazz Festival in Havana, Cuba last fall. The festival is Dec. 17 to 22. The band was invited based on its long reputation as one of the premiere community college jazz ensembles in the nation.
The Havana International Jazz Festival started in 1978 when Bobby Carcasses and other Cuban jazz musicians had a concert at the Case de la Cultura de Plaza. The following year, Chucho Valdes, now the president of the festival’s organizing committee, gave another concert. Those yearly concerts morphed into the festival as it is known today.
In addition to attending the festival, the jazz band will have the opportunity to take a guided tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Havana Historical Centre; tour Cuba’s National Museum of Fine Arts; visit the Institute Superior de Arte, the country’s top art academy; explore Finca Vigia, where Ernest Hemingway lived for more than 20 years; enjoy tap dancing and live jazz music at Pena de Santa Amalia and learn about the Cuban culture. Any U.S. citizen is allowed to travel to the small country with the appropriate license.
Among the fundraisers planned include the Tea Dance and auction (tickets are currently on sale for the Sept. 14 event), performances at area churches, Jazz Club fundraisers and donations from those in the community. In addition, there will be a Kickstarter campaign that will start soon to raise donations for the trip.
“The students are working hard and are excited, but I am not sure they know what to expect,” Mair said. “We are preparing a ten tune set list focused on mostly music associated with Kansas City and the Kansas City sound.”
Individuals interested in helping the KCKCC Jazz Band raise the approximately $60,000 in travel expenses can donate through Kansas City Jazz Alliance at www.kansascityjazz.org. Donations are tax deductible and 100 percent of the donation will go toward helping students travelling to Cuba.
The trip is also open to those within the Wyandotte and Kansas City area community. Currently, 25 community members have committed to the trip. Those who are interested in traveling with the jazz band are responsible for their own expenses and travel costs.
For more information on the KCKCC Jazz Band’s invitation to the 2014 Havana International Jazz Festival and on the group’s fundraising efforts, contact Jim Mair at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 913-288-7149. Community members interested in traveling with the band should contact Bill Yeazel at email@example.com.