After winning a slew of honors and performing at the ritzy 2017 Billboard Latin Music Awards, Cuban duo Gente de Zona made their way from Miami to New Orleans for a less trendy, yet culturally significant musical jamboree, rich in history and an homage to ancestors.
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival “prizes the regional over the national, putting just a few big names in headlining spots,” reports The New York Times, blending the likes of R&B veteran Usher and blues rock band Alabama Shakes, while centering more local and familiar acts. And this year, Cuba – a musical oasis alone – made a grand mark, bringing Telmary and the Habana Sana, Pedrito Martinez Group, Nacional de Ignacio Piñeiro and, as previously noted, Gente de Zona.
The Latin Grammy-winning group brought their celebrated sounds, combining reggaeton rhythms with more traditional forms of Cuban music. “There’s something thrilling about seeing music that big with the audience it was made for. Much of Jazz Fest may have had little idea who Gente de Zona is, but the Latinos at Congo Square treated the duo like heroes,” said Alex Rawls of USA Today.
Miles away from their native island – la llave del caribe – Gente de Zona made a home of NOLA, unabashedly speaking to their audience in Spanish. “I suspect, because that’s the language they’re most fluent in, but I also wonder if they were talking to the people who mattered most to them,” observed Rawls.
Gente de Zona made up for Pitull’s absence—serendipitously it seems, at this year’s fest. Jazz Fest runs through this Sunday (May 7). For information, visit here.