Lorenzo Sancassani is the founder of the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival and he is the one who tells the story of a 22 year journey; the beginnings, the adventures, the anecdotes. and the experiences of a young passionate Italian with his harmonica, becoming the principal reference person of the most important Jazz festival in the Dominican Republic.
34 years ago, Lorenzo Sancassani arrived from his native town of Venice to Santo Domingo. From there he traveled 8 hours by public transport all the way to his final destination: Sosua. This is how he discovers for himself and confirms his friend’s statement that “Sosua beach is paradise.” It was, and still is.
Alter living there a year, he moved to Cabarete, initially nor liking the place because it was very windy. Paradoxically, he became the organizer of the Windsurfing and Kiteboarding World Cup, thanks to that wind, which turned Cabarete into the water sports mecca that it is today.
The years passed by and music became the focus. In 1993, together with a Canadian friend, Gerard Ethier, they met a musician from New York who suggested bringing a jazz band to DR in exchange for a short vacation. This is the way that Elements, Danny Gottlieb and Mark Egan, a famous jazz group, came to Cabarete to initiate the Ola Festival at the Beach Hotel club. Ola had two editions, one in the summer and one in the winter, repeating the following year.
That event featured Blue Lou lvlarini, a famous saxophonist who played with Aretha Franklin in the movie ”The Blues Brothers,” Joe Caro, David Spinozza, just to mention a few.
However, Lorenzo wanted the festival to feature Dominican flavors and rhythms, and someone suggested a young bachata musician and his new band, that is how Anthony Santos came to be part of the birth ofthe first Dominican Jazz Festival. After two consecutive years (1993-1994), there was difficulty in producing both the water sports and music events as water sports World Cups were at the zenith of their history and demanded much of his time.
Once again the appearance of another music and jazz lover friend, Gary Malik Harris, from Atlanta Georgia, proposed to take advantage of the tourist attractions and combine it with Jazz and and create a Jazz Festival. There weren’t any, and still aren’t, any jazz festivals on the beach, and the idea was interesting and slowly started to take shape.
The festival’s name and domain were registered, and so in 1999 the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival was officially born. Private businesses were key in the support of the first edition. Malik had a foundation, which facilitated the access to important contemporary jazz artists. In this way the DRJF was able to bring jazz legends including Chuck Mangione, Poncho Sanchez, and many others.
At that moment, Lorenzo understood the potential to promote and help develop tourism in the area, from a musical and cultural perspective. The following years were times for learning, drafting, making mistakes and resolving them, crazy nights of building the stage and un-mounting it, any imperfections, maybe not the best sound or lighting system, but these experiences, which the artists also took part of, were forgotten under the memorable beauty of the beach that awaited them as the sun came up.
The volunteer work has been enormous, and in its early beginnings at least 40 people were involved, willingly and unselfishly giving of their time.
Dario Nicoderno is one of them, and one of the leading figures of this story, the person who really knows about jazz. Together, they traveled to various festivals to acquire experience and consequently met (Chucho Valdez and Ramon Vasquez, another extremely important mentor in the growth of the DR Jazz festival.
From these trips they conceived the right formula for the creation of an itinerant. festival, in other words moving from different venues and ending on the beach, with the added attraction of being absolutely free.
It is significant to note the uniqueness of having high quality artists playing with no cover charge. the most important festivals in the world, Montreal, Montreux, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela, none of them offer no cost performances for the same quality of artists.
DR JAZZ FESTIVAL POSTER ARCHIVE:
Anthony Santos Orchestra Barcelo
The Blues Mission Sistema Temperado Mark Egan Joe Caro
El clan de la furia Sistema Temperado
Elements Isla Maurice PrefontaireBluesBand
David Spinozza Blues Band
El ciego de Jacagua Blue Steel
The Blues Mission Guarionex Aquino
Leni Stern Made in Rock
Mimo Fox TS Monk Irwin Mayfield Bill Summers
Jason Marsalis Pamela Williams David Sanchez
Afrorican Ensemble Carlos Malta Sistema Temperado
Ray Barretto TS Monk Giovanny Hidalgo Hombres
Caliente Sistema Temperado
Arturo Sandoval Rene Marie Manny Oquendo y Libre
Humberto Ramirez Natti Love Joys Macarldie
Nibbs Steel Band Bacacha Latin Jazz
Puerto Plata Jazz Ensemble
Chuck Mangione Poncho Sanchez Bobby Sanabria
Mitch Rutman Group Kingsley Etienne Warren Oree
The ArpeggioJazz Ens Soraya Franco Natti Love Joys
Grupo Maniel Patricia Pereyra
Mezcla Chucho Valdes Chichi Peralta
Arturo Sandoval Humberto Ramirez
Gary David Band Nestor Torres
Nestor Torres Ramon Vasquez Steve Kahn
Paoli Nejias Felle Vagas Guarionex Aquino
Puert Plata JazzEnsemble Patricia Pereyra
Osear Micheli Trio Jamming Session
Gonzalo Rubalcaba Chucho Valdez
Ramon Vasquez Bellita y Jazz Tumbata
Sandy Gabriel PuertoPlataJazzEnsamble
Ari Hoenig Tes-a-T
Irakere Chucho Valdes Prodigio en
Jazz Eddie Gomez Trio Duduka da
Fonseca Stefan Karlsson Michelle
Marie Ambar Jazz Group
Jerry Medina Quartet Efrain Toro Eric Figueroa
Ramon Vasquez Richie Flores Grupo Maniel
Giovanny Hidalgo Dave Valentin Sandy Gabriel
Electric Jazz Fidel Morales Trio Guarionex Aquino
Ambar Jazz Group El Prodigio
Antonio Sanchez Chembo Corniel Felle
Vega Jose Alberto El Canario Ramon Vasquez Raul
Romero John Benitez
Chucho Valdes Afro Cuban Messengers
Danilo Perez Trio John Benitez Sextet
Piña Duluc Project Crispin Fernandez
Rodhen y su Banda Sandy Gabriel Group
Jjazz festival 2011Sabrina Estepan Puerto Varas Tes-A-T Ismael
Miranda Tutti Druyan Gema Corredera Xiomara Fortuna Rando
Camasta Jerry Medina