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Jody Espina, founder and president of JodyJazz Inc., recently had the opportunity to visit Cuba and spread the word about JodyJazz saxophone mouthpieces among some of the country’s leading saxophone players.

Espina was able to take advantage of the new relaxed travel regulations between Cuba and the US in order to make his first visit to the country.  Guided by his friend and former Cuba resident Yves Prager, Espina was able to gain an introduction to the musician community there.

Espina's first visit was to the home of world famous saxophonist Cesar Lopez, currently regarded as Cuba's premier saxophone artist. Lopez is best known for his work as a former member of Cuba's most famous band, the legendary super-group “Irakere”.  Here Jody was warmly welcomed with a feast of traditional Cuban food and rum, followed by some of the finest Cuban cigars. After the meal they set about testing mouthpieces with Cesar Lopez quickly falling in love with the JodyJazz HR* series Alto 7M model, about which he said “It was as if you made it just for me.”

They were then joined by Michel Herrera, a great young up-and-coming saxophonist who is currently setting the Cuban music scene alight.  It was love at first sight for Michel Herrera also as he immediately fell in love with the JodyJazz JET series Alto 8 model. The three then spent the rest of the afternoon jamming and having a good time with these two tremendous Cuban saxophonists enjoying their new JodyJazz mouthpieces.  During his trip Espina was also able to sit in with a number of great Cuban bands at some of Havana's most famous Jazz clubs including Cesar Lopez's group at the 'Jazz Cafe' and Michel Herrera's group at 'La Zorra'. 

Of his visit Espina said, "The warmth of the Cuban people, and especially the musicians, is all the reason anyone would need to go there. And the level of musicianship is astounding. But this is still a very poor country with many restrictions placed on its residents,” said Espina. "Meeting, playing and hanging with the great saxophonist Cesar Lopez, was an experience I shall never forget, and meeting and playing with several of the other astounding saxophonists like Michel Herrera was also a big highlight of my trip,” he continued.

Though it might be some time before Cuba represents any sort of viable market for American instrument manufacturers, the influence of Afro-Cuban music and its leading practitioners like Cesar Lopez and Michel Herrera continues to cast a long shadow across the globe.

Photos: On left, Jody with Cesar Lopez (left) and Michel Herrera (middle). On right, Jody with his friend and guide Yves Prager and one of Havana’s famous classic vintage cars. 



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