Iconic Santiago markets to host free jazz festival

For two nights, the bustling marketplace will be transformed into a swinging concert venue.

The popular marketplace will be transformed into a concert venue. (Photo: labicicletaverde/Flickr)
The popular marketplace will be transformed into a concert venue. (Photo: labicicletaverde/Flickr)

A visit to La Vega Central is always an experience. Just a few blocks from the beating heart of downtown Santiago, the sprawling marketplace is home to row upon row of colorful stalls selling a staggering variety of fresh fruit, vegetables, cheeses, pickled salads, processed meats and grains. All at dirt cheap prices.

It’s a place that engages all your senses. Wandering through the maze-like halls, you are confronted by myriad sights and smells. What stands out most of all, though, are the sounds. Eager vendors shout as they clamor for attention, friendly shoppers stop to greet each other and the music of buskers fills the air. It’s loud, it’s intense and it’s surprisingly harmonious.

But this Friday and Saturday night the popular meeting place will be filled with a different type of sound as it plays host to the first ever Jazz a La Vega festival.

Organized by the market’s stallholders and Colectivo Mapocho, a group of artists from the nearby Mapocho neighborhood, the festival has also received funding from the city’s Municipality of Recoleta.

The free event will take place in the area of the market known as Patio de Remates, or the Auction Yard, where fresh produce deliveries are unloaded early every morning. In place of the packing crates and pallets, a large stage will be installed with sound and lighting equipment. And from 7pm on both nights of the festival, the buzzing marketplace will be transformed into a concert venue.

“We don’t just want jazz to be played in privileged circles but also in popular places like this where people from all backgrounds come together,” the market’s administrator, Manuel Caro, told La Tercera.

“We have had art exhibitions and demonstrations of cueca [Chile’s national dance] here before but never anything like this.”

Friday, November 25

Opening the inaugural Jazz a La Vega festival will be acclaimed pianist Valentín Trujillo, who appeared for many years as el Tío Valentín on the popular Sábado Gigante television variety show. Also taking to the stage will be lively big band Locomotora de Swing (Swing Locomotive) and the spectacular Jazz Killer Show, which combines music with acting and audiovisual presentations.

“We have played before at places like the La Dehesa synagogue and in the gardens of the Cousiño Palace but this will be the first time we put on a show at a venue like La Vega Central,” Jazz Killer Show Director Moca Castillo told La Tercera.

“I love the idea because it will give us the chance to test our repertoire in a large and popular environment.”

Saturday, November 26

Saturday night will see performances from classical jazz group Andrés Pérez Quinteto, the Conchalí Big Band and Jazzimodo, an eclectic ensemble of musicians who mix pop and electronic elements with jazz.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea to bring the music to new audiences in a place that is not designed for concerts. I’m sure it will be really nice,” Jazzimodo vocalist Paz Court told La Tercera.