Latin Jazz and Mexican Independence Coming to Rialto Exhibtion Center on Friday

September 12, 2011

By Teya Vitu


The Mexican Independence Day Fiesta Mixer & Salsa Dance Party will bring spirited music and festivities to the Rialto Exhibition Center on Sept. 16.

What was the Latin Jazz Festival the past two years has expanded into a night-long collaboration between the Tucson Jazz Society, the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Tucson Partnership.

The evening will start from 5:30 to 7 p.m. with a chamber mixer with a distinct Mexican flair with mariachi music and Mexican appetizers. The jazz festival follows at 7 p.m. when Tito Y Su Nuevo Son takes the stage.

“It’s a great networking event and it also celebrates Mexican Independence Day,” said Lea Marquez Peterson, the Hispanic Chamber’s executive director.

The event does fall precisely on Mexican Independence Day, which is Sept. 16. It also celebrations National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Marquez Peterson said the mixer and party welcomes anyone, just as the Hispanic Chamber also welcomes and even encourages non-Hispanics to become members. She has doubled chamber membership from 380 to 800 in her two years in charge, and she wants turn the Hispanic community to Downtown.

“We’re excited to host this Downtown,” Marquez Peterson said. “We are big supporters of Downtown. There is a lot of energy going on Downtown. Not a lot of our members venture Downtown and they should.”
The Downtown Tucson Partnership is hosting the Beer Garden as well as promoting the event and providing security and maintenance. The Partnership created the Latin Jazz Festival two years ago by approaching the Tucson Jazz Society, which typically does not focus on Downtown or Latin music.

“Sure, why not, we’ll give it a try,” Tucson Jazz Society treasurer John Dennis said.

The event has evolved year-by-year with the Latin Jazz Festival name yielding to Mexican Independence Day Fiesta Mixer & Salsa Dance Party, and a move from La Placita Village the first two years to the Rialto Exhibition Center.

“We’re still looking at what the format is going to be,” Dennis said. “This year  we were very fortunate that (Rialto Exhibition Center owner) Don Martin came forward.”

The Jazz Society has lined up a return engagement  of Tito Y Su Nuevo Son, a local Afro-Cuban band that also played at last year’s Latin Jazz Festival.

“They were very well received last year,” Dennis said. “What people can expect to hear is lively urban Cuban music that is going to shake the rafters of that building.”

As the event name indicates, it’s a dance party so audience participation is expected. The event is part of Calle Congresso, a month-long Downtown celebration of Latin music.

“We’re very pleased to be cooperating with the Hispanic Chamber,” Dennis said. “It adds a broader audience.”

Admission for the joint mixer and salsa dance party is $10 whenever you show up. Age limit is 21 and up.

Marquez Peterson suspects people will also head across the street to Hotel Congress or otherwise find Downtown amusement after the event.

“Our event ends at 9 and I’m sure most of the crowd will not leave,” she said.