Kervin Barreto's Group.
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Kervin Barreto's Group.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Band Jazz Acoustic


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"Cubans and All That Jazz."

Cubans and All That Jazz
New arrivals on the Toronto music scene are heating things up
PAUL WELLS | Nov 03, 2003

THE TUESDAY-night jam session at the Rex Hotel in Toronto is chaotic at the best of times, which is part of its charm. The Rex is not one of your fancy jazz joints: it's a watering hole whose patrons spill pitchers of beer. On Tuesdays the music is performed, in almost random configurations, by whoever is wise or foolish enough to haul his horn onto the bandstand. You hear the best and worst musicians, often together. For hours the proceedings teeter agreeably at the brink of disaster. A couple of months ago a skinny mulatto kid stood near the bandstand, staring impassively into the middle distance, while some questionable trumpeters and a harried scat singer damaged a succession of old show tunes. Then the kid stepped forward during a mid-tempo standard, put his own trumpet to his lips, and shot chorus after chorus of fiery, whip-smart bebop into the air over the startled patrons.

Continued Below

"Who the hell is this?" I asked a local singer.

"Another refugee," she said with a shrug.

The term was not technically accurate, but I knew immediately what she meant. In Toronto these days, if some kid wanders in and swings a room into bad health, the odds are good and getting better that he came from Cuba.

There are so many brilliant young Cubans on Toronto's jazz scene it is getting hard to keep track. It was time to investigate. I knew who to call.

Jane Bunnett plays the soprano saxophone and flute. Her husband, Larry Cramer, is a trumpeter. Twenty-one years ago they went to Cuba for a cheap vacation. It changed their lives. There was so much music there that Bunnett and Cramer have devoted their lives to exploring Cuba's music and weaving it into their own jazz.

Bunnett's trips to Cuba are not the only reason so many young Cuban jazz musicians have made the journey in the opposite direction, but she's a big reason.

John F. Kennedy put a big cramp in the musical dialogue between Cuba and America with his cultural boycott of Fidel Castro's regime. Successive U.S. presidents have followed suit. If you want to leave Cuba and it is hard to get to New York, where do you go? Well, there's this nice lady in Toronto . . .

Here is who I met around Bunnett's living-room table. Alexis Baró, 24, a powerful and exciting trumpeter. Luis Guerra, 20, and David Virelles, not quite 20, two of the better new pianists in town. Chendy León, 30, a versatile percussionist.

And Kervin Barreto, 21. He's the skinny kid with the trumpet from the Rex. He's so new in town he doesn't know much English yet. But he hums lines from old Charlie Parker and Bud Powell records to his compadres, emphasizing the pretty notes like inside jokes: "Bwee dap-n dah . . . BOOO-lyah DOO . . ."

Just as the depth of music in Cuba startled Bunnett, the breadth of music in Canada has amazed the Cubans. "This is a multicultural country," Baró said, "so there's all kinds of music."

Jazz is rarely a topic for formal instruction in Cuba's music schools, so they learned it alone, after school. "You struggle hard to get any information about how to play," Baró said.

When Baró was younger, Bunnett and Cramer visited his school, leaving 300 jazz-instruction books behind. But the school wouldn't let the students borrow the books. They had to sneak into the library and steal them. By comparison, Toronto is like a fountain of information.

Any immigrant's life is a challenge. The Cubans bring two solid assets to help them compete. First, formidable knowledge of their instruments and of jazz's glorious past.("There's not a one of them who lacks serious technical skill," the Juno-winning saxophonist Richard Underhill, whose band includes Guerra on piano, told me later. "I'm sure you can find some in Cuba, but the ones who made it out can really play.")

Second, an iron determination to make a living in music. They have had to work so hard to get this far that you can hear desire and exultation in every note. They are politely bewildered when they hear a Canadian whose music lacks that fierce joy. León used to work in construction sites. Baró used to wash dishes. Each quit when it got in the way of his music.

After our chat, Baró left for a rehearsal and the other guys gathered around Bunnett's big TV to watch jazz videos. They shouted with delight when Hilario Durán came in the front door. At 50, the pianist is an elder statesman to this bunch. He moved from Cuba in 1998 after four years of extended trips. "I'm so happy they're developing into this community here," he told me. "It's good for the Cubans. And it's good for Toronto.

"I don't feel alone anymore."

Enough about politics. So let's talk about jazz, all week on my Weblog:

To comment: - Paul Wells.


cover story
Jazz scene phenom who's blown local minds (on both the flute and soprano sax) with the Cuban-influenced compositions of her killer Spirits of Havana ensemble.

Who's the best young jazz musician in Toronto?
"There are actually three: Luisito Denis , Kervin Barreto and David Virelles . They're three great 21-year-old musicians, kind of like Bird, Dizzy and Monk, who are going to change the face of jazz in this city."
- NOW MAGAZINE | OCTOBER 27 - NOVEMBER 2, 2005 | VOL. 25 NO. 9

"Latin Beat Magazine, Sept, 2002"

El jazz Latino ilumina a Curacao - Heineken Jazz Festival - TT: Latin jazz in Curaçao - TA: Heineken Jazz Festival - Artículo Breve
Latin Beat Magazine, Sept, 2002 by Luis Raúl Montell
Ese viernes, 31 de mayo de este mismo año, poco después del mediodía, aterrizó en el Aeropuerto de Willemstad el avión de DUC que me transportó desde Caracas.

Allí en el aeropuerto era esperado por quién sería mi guía en los próximos días, la señora Dylene Esprit, funcionaria de la Oficina de Turismo de Curaçao.

Las razónes principales del viaje eran: cubrir el 15 Curaçao Heineken Jazz Festival y visitar algunos lugares de interés turístico de la isla holandesa isla del Caribe llamada Curaçao. Para cubrir tal evento fue fundamental la participación y diligencia de la Dirección de Turismo de Curaçao en Caracas, dirigida por Hubert Martes.

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Esa misma tarde, despues de arribar al Hotel Lions Dive, mi guía me trasladó a la sede del festival, Landhuis Brakkeput Mei, donde pude conocer a uno de los directores de la Fundación de Jazz de Curaçao y maestro de ceremonia del evento, Trevor Nisbeth, con quién ya había cruzado comunicaciones. En la plataforma estaba ensayando uno de los grupos que movía mi curiosidad, Jíbaro Jazz, cuyo líder, Pedro Guzmán mostraba su destreza con el cuatro, mientras sus acompañates seguían sus agradables improvisaciones.

El maestro de ceremonia hizo los anuncios de costumbre, dando comienzo a la primera noche del Curaçao Heineken Jazz Festival, y la apertura correspondió al cuarteto liderado por el guitarrista JJ Rojer, quien ha actuado junto al pianista Otmaro Ruiz en Caracas, en el reconocido sitio de jazz llamado Juan Sebastian Bar. JJ Rojer exhibió su versatilidad al ejecutar, junto a sus amigos, una variedad de boleros y bossas, mostrando las posibilidades de crecimiento en su desarrollo musical.

Pedro Guzmán, entró en escena con su carismático grupo Jíbaro Jazz, el cual incluye a Cándido Reyes ("El Rey del Guiro"). Guzmán interpretó alegres melodías con su cuatro, instrumento tradicional puertorriqueño. Jíbaro Jazz hizo delirar y puso a bailar a los presentes. Ejecuciones como El Día Que Me Quieras, Alas de la Paloma (dedicado a Vieques), Baile Para un Amigo y Canción Para lo Que Siento, tambien dejaron constancia de su calidad musical. Guzmán fue acompañado por Yan Carlos Pérez en el piano, Paoli Mejias en las congas, y José Caban en la batería.

La emoción inundaba todos los sectores de Landhuis Brakeput Mei, cuando el público dió acogida a la última presentación de la noche que correspondia a la ídolo local Izaline Calister, cantante y compositora de origen antillano que reside en Holanda, quien entonó canciones brasileñas, gaitas y baladas incluyendo a: Soñó Yo dí Muhé del Tur, La Fiesta Dio el Piskado, Tumbabo y Mazurca Erótica, entre otras.

Al día siguiente tuve la oportunidad de caminar de nuevo por el centro de Willemstad y me acerqué a Kura Hulanda, un sitio extraordinario y relajante con museos, restaurantes, cafés y tiendas magníficamente decoradas.

Saskia Laroo dió inicio a la segunda noche del festival. Esta joven holandesa, con su peculiar estilo de tocar la trompeta, capturó la atención de todos. Ella debe formar parte del exclusivo grupo de "señoras del jazz".
((( La atmosfera ya estaba ardiente cuando se presentó la banda denominada Marquesa Cubana, encabezada por el baterista Giraldo Piloto, con el respaldo de José Tamayo (piano), Yandi Martínez (bajo), Kervin Barreto (trompeta), en representación de la nueva generación de músicos cubanos y al lado de los septuagenarios Tata Güines (tumbadora) y Changuito (timbal), generando colectivamente el florecimiento del jazz afrocubano.

Presagio un gran porvenir a Martínez y Barreto, los cuales simbolizan el futuro.
El festival concluyó con el guitarrista argentino Luis Salinas, muy estimado en Curaçao, y conocido por su excelente trabajo. El gaucho Salinas interpretó El Lugar Que Yo Amo, Funky Tango el Tango, El Zambo Azul y Cha Cha Rock.

Luis Raúl Montell--abogado, escritor y periodista está encargado de difundir semanalmente el Jazz, a través del programa Caribe FM (97.1, Caracas, Venezuela).

COPYRIGHT 2002 Latin Beat Magazine
COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group

- by Luis Raul Montell


CD Album "First Impulse", 2010.
All the compositions are composed by Kervin Barreto (SOCAN) except "Continuum" by David Virelles (SOCAN).

Giraldo Piloto and Friends by Giraldo Piloto.
Oye Como Va by Giraldo Piloto and Klimax.



Cuban born trumpeter Kervin Barreto, started his musical studies at the age of 9 at The Vocational School for the Arts in Camaguey, Cuba 1992. Subsequently, Kervin moved to Havana to continue musical studies at the prestigious National School for the Arts (the alma mater of Cuban most prominent musicians) were he graduated in 2001. While in Cuba he kept a busy schedule, playing/recording and touring with the famous drummer/composer Giraldo Piloto and Klimax; past dates includes several Western Europe Tours and several dates for the Plaza Jazz Festival, Pori Jazz Festival, Glasgow Jazz Festival, Curacao Jazz Festival, Umbria Jazz Festv and NorthSea Jazz Festv.
Upon his arrival in Toronto, Kervin has performed/recorded with such talented musicians including: Jane Bunnett, Hilario Duran, David Virelles, John Benitez, Neil Swinson, Rich Brown, Pat La Barbara, Norman Marshall, Archie Alleyne, Francisco Mela & Roberto Occhipinti. He has also shared the stage with international figures such as Barry Harris, Hermeto Pascoal, composer/conductor Vince Mendoza, amongst others.

Most recently, Kervin has finished a World Tour "2011-2012", with the Puertorican multiple grammys awarded band "Calle 13". featuring their latest album "Que Entren Los Que Quieran".
more info @:

Now a days, Mr, Barreto is involved on several upcoming projects including the International CD Release Tour of his first Album Debut “First Impulse” recorded in Toronto, 2010 and featuring a special musicians lineup from Cuba, Canada and New York; like Multiple Times Grammy Nominated and 6 Time Juno Award flautist & soprano sax Jane Bunnett, and two times Grammy Awarded, percussionist Jose Luis Quintana “Changuito”.

for more info@: