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AccessCuba with Dave Weckl
January 13-18, 2019
Havana, Cuba

Twenty four attendees joined legendary drummer Dave Weckl for AccessCuba! Our group, with attendees from all over the world, joined Dave for five days of musical exchanges and site visits in Havana. Attendees came from the U.S., Canada, Romania, Sweden, Japan, and Lebanon!

Dave and Drum Fantasy Camp director Steven Orkin arrived in Havana on January 12. Things started bright and early on the 13th with an all-day rehearsal. Dave rehearsed with bands lead by Janio Abreu Morcate (saxophone) and Ruy Lopez Nussa (drums). Dave had learned five songs for Janio's band and two that included Janio and Ruy's bands together.

After a day of rehearsal, Dave and his wife joined Steve and the rest of the group at the Riviera hotel. Everyone enjoyed drinks and socializing before going to dinner. It was a great way to kick off this amazing adventure!



On the second day, the group visited the National Concert Band of Cuba. This amazing and historic band allowed us to observe their rehearsal.

Eventually, the band director invited Dave to sit in with them. Dave jumped on a small Yamaha kit in the pecussion section and was presented with charts for a medley of American rock songs and also a jazz tune. Dave read the charts and wowed everyone with his immediate mastery of the tunes. There's a great group shot of Dave and the band in the photo album (above).

After a delicious lunch with the group, Dave headed over to La Zorra y El Cuervo (The Fox and the Raven), a famous jazz club in Havana. Dave performed with Janio's band for the first set of the night - and they brought the house down with an amazing show! Later that evening, Dave, his wife, sound engineer Dennis Moody, and Steven Orkin enjoy a night of salsa dancing in Havana!

On the third day, Dave and the group visited the National School of the Arts. The school is home to the most talented music students in Cuba, and the group we saw did not disappoint!

While at the school, we watched big band performance made up of high school-level players. Of course, the band director asked Dave to sit in  and this created a very memorable moment! The horn players were incredible. Afterward, Dave said that this was the BEST big band he ever played with!

While our group enjoyed an afternoon with the drummers/dancers of Compas Dans, Dave and Janio's band set up at the lovely Teatro de Bellas Artes - located in the Fine Arts Museum in old Havana. In the evening, our group joined Dave for a nighttime concert.

Day four featured a special treat: riding in Havana's classic cars up the Malecon (the main coast road). The group spent an hour walking around the historic El Morro Castle - enjoying unbelievable scenic views and learning the history of the beautiful structure.

While the group enjoyed the San Jose Market, Dave set up for his final concert at a huge concert hall called Mella Theatre. In the evening, the group joined for this large concert, which featured Dave's performance with Janio's group - and a special encore with both Janio and Ruy's groups. 13 additional drummers joined Dave and Ruy for a memorable percussion jam!

Afterward: Dave and the other musicians attended a reception for all the musician involved with Havana's jazz festival. Dinner and dancing took place at the historic Nacional Hotel, where part of The Godfather: Part Two was filmed. The after party: hanging out with the amazing Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez at his condo in Havana (also with Janio and Dennis Chambers)!

On the final day, non-drummers in the group went to Fusterlandia, an incredible ceramic village in Havana. The drummers joined Dave at for a drum clinic. Dafnis Prieto began the afternoon with a one hour clinic. Dave went on after Dafnis - and the two played together to close out the event!

Everyone enjoyed a fabulous dinner at a paladar in Havana before exchanging contact information and parting ways!

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