Pablo Menéndez & Mezcla
Under the direction of guitarist Pablo Menéndez, Mezcla have been a part of the soundtrack of the Cuban music scene for 30 years. Mezcla bring together several veteran masters with some the best of young players on the scene today. When at home in Cuba, they perform regularly at Havana’s premier jazz club, La Zorra y el Cuervo, and at the Havana Jazz Festival.
Mezcla’s music is a genuine celebration of the culture and musical roots of the “Pearl of the Antilles,” a ray of Havana sunshine that inspired Carlos Santana to call them “the cleanest, freshest water I have ever tasted!”
Mezcla have released nine recordings, including Pure Mezcla, recorded at Yoshi’s Jazz Club in Oakland, California during their 2013 tour. Their legendary 1993 release, Cantos, featured the late Lázaro Ros, one of Cuba’s foremost singers of Afro-Cuban Yoruba santería chants. In 2014, Mezcla released a live concert DVD and were later featured in the Smithsonian Institution’s Latin Jazz documentary, La Combinación Perfecta.
Menéndez’s path was paved by his mother, folk-blues legend Barbara Dane, who toured Cuba, defying a US-imposed cultural and economic blockade. A peek at the VFMF archives reminds us that a young Menéndez played here, in his mother’s band, back in 1983!
Menéndez is not your average Afro-Caribbean or Latin jazz musician. His vision of this music stretches back to traditional jazz and show-tunes and up to electric urban blues, modern post-bop, Cuban and Puerto Rican music, and contemporary neo-bop. As a guitarist, he is strong in these varied disciplines. As a bandleader, he stretches out even further, taking his Mezcla ensemble into and beyond Latin sensibilities.