Chile’s capital thrives on all that jazz and dazzle!

Popular jazz club reopens in Santiago for International Jazz Day, amidst a boom of free jazz activities and small venues popping up all over the city.

Santiago’s Club de Jazz is just one of many venues highlighting this fun genre. Photo by Club de Jazz / Facebook.
Santiago’s Club de Jazz is just one of many venues highlighting this fun genre. Photo by Club de Jazz / Facebook.

Chile is no stranger to the jazz world. Ángel Parra, one of Chile’s most prolific jazz guitarists, is just one example of the nation’s historic connection to the syncopated, musical beats of free-form jazz.

Therefore, it’s not hard to believe that Santiago is fast becoming one of Latin America’s most thriving centers for jazz aficionados, liable to soon attract the attention of loyal, enthusiasts worldwide.

The reopening of Club de Jazz, in its brand-new setting of Casa Maroto, has injected Chile’s capital city with a renewed interest in the music and the artistic, free-spirited culture that comes with it.

“The club’s new setting oozes a more elegant and international style,” said Edgardo Cruz, Club de Jazz’s owner, in conversation with La Tercera regarding the club’s inauguration in April 2014.

Now forming part of the Plaza Egaña Mall in Santiago’s La Reina neighborhood, Cruz’s re-opened Club de Jazz comes equipped with a decent-sized restaurant which provides followers with the perfect excuse to dine at the venue and start their evening early. Plans are also underway to build a number of rehearsal rooms onsite.

The re-opening of Club de Jazz in Casa Maroto comes after a long, three-year wait. After suffering from structural damages caused by the 2010 earthquake, Club de Jazz was forced to play the role of a vagabond, with Cruz organizing events and activities during the club’s “homeless period” in a variety of spaces across the capital. As luck would have it, the recent inauguration beautifully coincided with International Jazz Day.

Testament to Chile’s increasing focus on the arts, Cruz’s Club de Jazz isn’t the only venue working to connect Santiago’s community to the rhythmic delights of this bohemian music genre. Benevento Jazz Café recently swung open its doors in the Providencia neighborhood.

Soulful tones of famous artists resonate in the cafe’s background, whilst Santiago’s cultured-crowd sips on bourbon-based Billie Holidays and ginger-flavored Louis Armstrongs — two of the venue’s tastiest jazz-inspired cocktails.

Erwin Díaz, the owner of another of Santiago’s favorite jazz clubs, Thelonious, is planning a concert to celebrate the work of Roberto Carlos Lecaros in Bombero Núñez 336. The Goethe Institute, long famous for its Jazz Wednesdays cycle, will also be producing the seventh version of The Parque Balmaceda Literary Café in August and the fifth season of The European Jazz Festival later on this year.

With all of these new or improved venues and events, a loyal crowd has formed in Santiago, with a true interest in the genre, its musicians and its bohemian, artsy nature.

“There has definitely been a rebirth of jazz appreciation in Chile, the public is very open to contemporary jazz and jazz fusion styles,” explained Lisa Flükiger, a representative of The Goethe Institute’s Cultural Program Department. Flükiger accredits a great deal of the Chilean attitude towards the genre, Chile’s interest in its contemporary strands and its growing place within the community to the deliberate work of the ProJazz academic institution.

“I think that the ProJazz School has had a huge influence, because it places great emphasis on interdisciplinary activity,” she continued.

Even though Club de Jazz owner, Edgardo Cruz, knows that the fans enjoy the discrete, underground, closed-door nature of the jazz world, he remains open to the idea of using Club de Jazz as a space to embrace musical talent across a variety of genres. Friday and Saturday evenings have been strictly reserved for jazz bands and solo artists, but the idea is to reach out to a broader audience throughout the week, and part of that decision lies in basic business sense.

“The bohemian jazz vibe is something that we need to generate over time,” Cruz explained.

In contrast, Díaz, owner of Thelonious Jazz Club, believes that jazz venue-owners in Santiago should have more confidence in the loyal nature of the fanatic and the growing interest in the genre within the local community.

“An active, supportive public comes to Thelonious,” he proudly explains. “I don’t put on music to sell pizzas or piscolas — the most important thing is what happens on the stage from Tuesday to Saturday. A good kitchen and a full bar are secondary.”

Likewise, Víctor Vega, owner of the club, Sonar, and regular visitor to Thelonious, believes that jazz can hold its own in Santiago and that the popularity of the genre will only continue to grow.

“We’re experiencing a boom in Santiago, which is slowly but surely taking hold of our community, evident by the effect it’s having on the young generation which, little by little, is internalizing the genre,” Vega confirmed.