>>>Mariachis and jazz in Guadalajara

Mariachis and jazz in Guadalajara

Though it may be the cradle of tequila and mariachis, Guadalajara offers a lot more than folklore. The capital of Jalisco alternates traditional ranchera songs with jazz. And it sounds better than ever.
G
iant sombreros, tacos and tequila. A lot of tequila. Whenever we talk about Mexico, we revert to stereotypes, but the thing is, Guadalajara has all of them. The main hub of Mexican gastronomy and folklore is in Jalisco, and its capital has become the most popular place for getting to know them up close. The Tequila Express, a tourist train that journeys through the fields of agave, the plant used to produce the alcoholic ingredient of margaritas, departs from here. The visit to its haciendas and distilleries is, of course, accompanied by mariachi groups. But, cielito lindo (as Mexicans may refer to their darlings) the second biggest city in the country does not live on ranchera folk music alone. Guadalajara is striving to become a cultural benchmark, far beyond the Mexico shown in tourist brochures. It is doing it in one fell swoop, through jazz, film and literature.
Coltrane Café holds concerts and jam sessions all year round.

The muse of Guadalajara

The University has become the hub of cultural life in the city. It is home to the Museum of the Arts, better known as MUSA. The museum is on the ground floor of the building that formerly housed the Rector’s Offices, and is home to the Auditorium murals of José Clemente Orozco. Entry is free.

Every summer, Guadalajarans let themselves be carried away by the smooth melody of jazz. Jalisco Jazz Festival lasts 11 days and is attended by international stars like Gary Burton, David Murray and Brian Lynch. Concerts, jam sessions and seminars take over the main venues in the city, including the former cloisters of the Santa María de Gracia and San Agustín convents, which today form part of the University of Guadalajara.
Venues like Primer Piso, Gin Club and Boogie House also participate in this celebration of contemporary music, which marks its 10th anniversary this year. But this is not the only time you can dance to the rhythm of guitar and drums. The second Encuentro Nacional de Jazz GDL (jazz conference) has also contributed to strengthening the relationship between Mexico and jazz, and includes a series of concerts. An open-air stage has been installed at Andador Coronilla, but the homage to jazz continues throughout the entire year at Coltrane Café and Escarabajo Scratch Bar.
The Museum of the Arts has 13 temporary exhibition rooms and one that houses the permanent collection.
Photo: posztos / Shutterstock.com

Ay Jalisco, no te rajes (don’t chicken out)

The International Mariachi and Charrería Conference is in its 23rd year. Beyond galas and processions, it has another tradition: breaking Guinness World Records. On 26 August, they will try to beat the one for building a mosaic out of Mexican sombreros. To do this, they will have to beat Germany, the current champion, with 1,900.

The most cosmopolitan side of Guadalajara is also on display during its International Film Festival, one of the biggest in Latin America. In 2015 the leading showcase of Ibero-American cinema took up residence at the University of Guadalajara. The Museum of the Arts (MUSA) and Cineforo were the main venues for its 31st event, where actor Antonio Banderas received an award, among others. For its part, the Guadalajara International Book Fair brings together big names from Hispanic literature, and fills the city with music and art. Every year, there is a Guest of Honour. In 2016, it will be Latin America; next year, Madrid. They hope to beat the record from last year’s event, which attracted more than 780,000 people.
Charrería forms part of Mexican tradition. It refers to the equestrian skills of riding and lasso.
Photo: T photography / Shutterstock.com
Despite its busy events calendar, traditional Guadalajara still perseveres. To discover it, you have to go to Mercado Libertad, where craftsmanship and gastronomy share the market hall. Next door is the Cabañas Cultural Institute, a former hospice, converted into a cultural centre and museum. Its walls, vaults and the inner part of its dome are covered with murals by José Clemente Orozco. And to finish, a 10-minute walk will take you to Plaza de los Mariachis, where you can put on your Mexican sombrero and join in with spontaneous shouts from the audience. Ay, ay, ay!
 

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