I am so happy to have been invited to perform at Jazz a la Calle in Mercedes, Uruguay. I, along with pianist Jarrett Cherner, bassist Matt Aronoff, and drummer Shawn Baltazor, spent a handful of sleepless, yerba mate-fueled days watching performances on the main stage, hanging at night-long outdoor jam sessions, and riding to the outskirts of town to witness a comparsa de candombe.
It was refreshing to share my music with an audience largely untouched by the current New York musical trends. We performed on stage in front of about 1,500 people, and the next day gave a clinic. I’m used to teaching ten through thirteen-year-olds, so it was both jarring and thrilling to see other musicians taking detailed notes on my presentation.
On my last day in Mercedes, I ended up on a bus to Montevideo with Javier Alfonso, a culture writer for Busqueda, a weekly paper. We talked about the festival, and about my newfound predilection for yerba mate, a Uruguayan staple beverage. Javier published a short piece about the cultural exchange: Jacob y el Mate