Days 24-27: Lima and Ancon, Peru

Day 24: Lima

The final country of our Rhythm Road trip was upon us, and frankly I was wishing we had another week to see some sights in the countryside. Peru is a country I’ve long wanted to visit, particularly with ancient sites like Macchu Picchu, Incan ruins, and Nazca line drawings in the desert. We spent our time in the capital city, Lima, in a bustling area called Miraflores that is quite tourist friendly. The food is spectacular with amazing restaurants everywhere, and the nightlife quite suited to jazz musician hours.  On our first evening there, we found the nightlife really begins at 10pm and extends into the wee hours of the morning with salsa clubs, music and more.  Our first stop was a Whole Foods type restaurant not two blocks away from our hotel open 24 hours, something we don’t even have in New York City!  The whole metropolitan area is home to about 9 million people, and like any city, has lots to explore and not enough time to do so!

Lima is situated on the Pacific coast and we could walk down to the ocean in about 5 minute from our hotel in Miraflores; each morning a dense fog would overlay the area, and it was quite refreshing. The weather in Lima was superb in February, not too hot nor humid, basically perfect.

Day 25

Our first full day in Lima we headed over to the music conservatory Jazz Jaus for an early afternoon workshop.  The students here were probably the most “knowledgeable” about jazz performance and language, along with Venezuela; we ended with a jam session and some great horn players joined us showing they had a great grasp of the jazz vocabulary.   It’s one thing to try to play jazz, it’s another thing to capture the spirit of the music!

Lima clinic

Lima clinic at Jazz Jaus

the jam session

the jam session

some great players here!

some great players here!

Jed demonstrating afterwards

Jed demonstrating some improvisational ideas afterwards

Misha demonstrating a piano exercise to an avid pianist

Misha showing a piano exercise to an avid pianist

The Jazz Jaus building had an interesting old “colonial” flavor to it, with some very cool colors.  And the walls were decorated with pictures of musicians like Louis Armstrong and more. Most importantly, it’s great to see an institution like this presenting music of all types (particularly jazz!) to the community!

not terribly exciting in picture, but the place had a great decor colorwise

not terribly exciting in picture, but the Jazz Jaus had a cool decor colorwise with lineages on the wall

a vibrant variety of colors

a vibrant variety of colors

That evening, our main concert in Lima was to take place in the Plaza Mayor of the historic center of Lima.  We were a bit worried the concert might not happen, as there were mining protests taking place that day a few blocks away.  But things remained calm, and we were able to go ahead with the concert. The square where we performed was itself lined with historical government buildings which offered a fantastic view. And most importantly, the square was packed with another large, attentive audience, so we could ask for nothing better!

a view of the square in Lima where we were to perform that evening

a view of the square in Lima where we were to perform that evening; you can see the Cathedral of Lima on the left

at night the buildings and square were are lit up, creating a vivid scene

at night the buildings and square were lit up, creating a vivid scene

our performance!

our performance!

another one

another one

Melissa, Thomson, Jed, Alvester, Misha, and X

Melissa, Thomson, Jed, Alvester, Misha, and Vanessa

Another spectacular audience!

Another spectacular audience!

Opening up the concert was Manuel Miranda and his group, a master of various traditional Peruvian wind instruments. Manuel’s group offered  a fusion of traditional Peruvian music with modern jazz fusion sounds and a top notch group of musicians. Manuel plays literally hundreds of instruments from flute and the panpipes to literal antique instruments like the Peruvian ocarina,mohoceno, the wacra phuku and more.   Later on in the week, Manuel invited Jed to his house to view his incredible collection of ancient instruments.

Jed and Manuel

Jed and Manuel

Manuel at his home playing one of his older instruments

Manuel at his home playing one of his older instruments

Here’s a video of Manuel’s fusion band…you can see and hear him playing some of his flutes in that context, not to mention conch shells and more

After the performance, we were deluged with fans looking for autographs and photo opportunities…I have to confess as a jazz musician, it’s nice to feel like a star for a change!!!  It’s such an incredible feeling to travel halfway across the world and play music for audiences that love it;  we are truly blessed to have such opportunities!

Lima’s Culinary Pleasures

No trip is complete without some gastronomic journeys and Lima is a place that has exploded in terms of being a hotspot for fine cuisine in recent years and is becoming known as a destination for foodies.  Master chefs like Gaston Acurio have revitalized the restaurant scene in Lima, and on every block you can now find incredible eateries with amazing food, well presented with top notch ingredients. You’ll find a lot of corn, rice, chiles, tomatoes and more, not to mention Peru is the home of the potato, boasting over 8,000 varieties.  Yes, that is not a typo, 8,000!!! Just about every meal was accompanied by some of the tastiest potatoes I’ve ever had.  Every meal we had was divine, so here are some pictures from our culinary experience in Lima!

salad

salad

calamari with mashed yucca and more

calamari with mashed yucca and more

tasty seafood

tasty seafood

Tacu Tacu: an Afro-Peruvian dish with beans, rice and spices, topped with fish

Tacu Tacu: an Afro-Peruvian dish with beans, rice and spices, topped with fish

Cappuccino de papa y hongos - a traditional Peruvian soup with potatoes, mushrooms, and truffle oil

Cappuccino de papa y hongos - a traditional Peruvian soup with potatoes, mushrooms, and truffle oil

Lomo Saltado - A Peruvian dish with Asian influences. A bit of a stir fry...marinated beef with peppers, onions, soy sauce and spices, accompanied by a very large Peruvian corn mixed with rice

Lomo Saltado - A Peruvian dish with Asian influences. A bit of a stir fry...marinated beef with peppers, onions, soy sauce and spices, accompanied by a very large Peruvian corn mixed with rice

Day 26 : Ancon

North of Lima is the coastal city of Ancon which was the first seaside beach resort in the area.  The town features a boardwalk along the ocean, hotels, and a charming center filled with shops and restaurants.  The hour drive there revealed that essentially Ancon is a suburb of Lima these days, due to the expanding city.  Off in the distance inland were miles of flat arid land and mountains off in the distance towards the center of Peru, which I believe are part of the Andes.  I certainly hope to someday come back and visit that interior another time!

The center of town was charming, filled with shops, restaurants, hotels, and people walking around enjoying the sunny day.  Our embassy hostesses treated us to a ride on bandolas along the ocean waterfront to get a sense of the scenery and town. A bandola is essentially a bike rickshaw you can sit in, just like you might find in central park of NYC.

Al and me on a bandola

Al and I on an anconeto

tourists or nursing home residents? you be the judge...

tourists or nursing home residents? you be the judge...

on the beach of Ancon with Melissa
on the beach of Ancon with Melissa

After that, it was time for our evening concert and final performance of the international leg of our Rhythm Road tour. We played on a gazebo on the town common for a rapt audience of locals.

playing in Ancon

playing in Ancon

can we have audiences like this all the time, please?

can we have audiences like this all the time, please?

After we played, a local cajon player and singer named Catiti performed, accompanied by guitar.  It was great to hear more traditional fare Peruvian music, and nice to be exposed to more of the rhythmic element of the music.

Vocalist and cajon player Catiti performing after us

Vocalist and cajon player Catiti performing after us

Here’s something you can listen to, Catiti playing with a trio:

Wrapup

With that, our work in Peru was done, and it was time to celebrate with our embassy hosts. Another great meal was had, as well as introduction to the national drink Pisco Sour, which features the Peruvian brandy pisco mixed with egg whites, sugar, bitters, and a few other ingredients. We made some great new friends in Peru who were incredibly hospitable, and I certainly hope to make it back to see more of the country as a tourist.

Pisco Sour Celebration!

Pisco Sour Celebration!

Thanks so much to our hosts, Melissa, Vanessa, Lizz, vocalist Patricia Saravia who gave us so many great CDs of traditional Peruvian music, and everyone else who helped make the concerts happen, took us out for food, and made our trip awesome!!!

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