Back home, I use to live by show business. Being a lighting technician, I had the chance to be part of great productions such as Celine Dion, ACDC, and many summer and winter festivals like the Montreal Jazz Festival. When I was offered to cover the 11th Riviera Maya Jazz festival, I couldn't say no. It was like going back to my roots, and it felt amazing.


The production team did a fantastic job, from start to finish. Every day, a press conference was set up for the media so we could could meet every band and get a good feeling of what they would offer to the public that same night. 

Mamita's beach welcomed us on the powdery soft white sand beach with very well organized facilities. The first night's venue was a seemingly full house, with thousands of people sitting on the beach. Some of them were well prepared and set up with makeshift tables and camping chairs; others were spread out picnic-style with blankets on the sand.  We could easily maneuver the crowd and see each show perfectly.


From a technical point of view, the lighting and sound were beautifully designed to fit this outside venue. Even though most of the nights were windy with a mix of light and heavy rains, we could hear every note of the spectacular jazz music clearly and see every movement on the grandiose stage that was set up in only a few days.


The lineup of artists were as eclectic as Playa del Carmen is, with musicians like Ed Motta, a Brazilian jazz, soul, and funk musician known worldwide. Winner of a Latin Grammy Award, he produced his first album when he was only 16 years old. He closed the second night with his robustly smooth voice, and warmed up the crowd as the rain became heavier, but he certainly ended the evening on a high note.  Jim Beard, a contemporary jazz musician from Philly was up next. His jazz sounds blended perfectly with those of the waves, only a few meters away.  First on stage that night, Scott Henderson, Jeff Berlin, and Dennis Chamber were reunited. Those three great musicians gave us a blend of jazz and rock & roll moments with guitar, drum, and bass solos, which gave an interesting edge to the night.


The closing night of the 11th Riviera Maya Jazz Festival was a great mix of genres and kept the crowd up and dancing most of the night. Celso Piña opened the night with great energy. The accordion player from Monterrey, Mexico shared the stage with six other musicians whom made the  crowd bounce from start to finish.  He brought smiles on every face as people were singing his songs and dancing to the rhythm of cumbia salsa.


Matthew Garrison went up after Piña with two other amazing musicians who were reunited for the very first time on stage. Garrison, a bass player whose father and grand father also were bass players, lead the show. Being a DJ in his own venue in Brooklyn, he also mixed some of his own songs on stage. This outstanding performance of drum and bass was a success and brought a new genre in the crowd that residents of Playa del Carmen were not accustomed to. The intensity of each piece brought the trio to a higher level of instrumental and vocal performances.


The last band to close the jazz festival was no other than Earth, Wind, & Fire. The crowd was waiting to dance to the rhythm of R&B , Soul and Jazz and the band gave them more than they expected. They were dressed up in shiny and disco styles of their well-known 70s era, as the beach of Mamita´s went on fire and its crowd grooved to their classics such as Boogie Wonderland and Let´s Groove, along with many other top hits. Each member had an impressive energy on stage and did not seem they have aged a bit. Even if the rain was still present at some point, the crowd never lost their sense of being taken by the music.



Every year the Riviera Maya keeps growing and impressing, and this year´s jazz festival edition brought it to a higher level. We can´t wait to see who will be part of this well-organized production next year. In the meantime, keep enjoying numerous multicultural events that are certain to attract a new kind of tourist; Music lovers.



Andrea Ruiz Perron 

Article written by Andrea Ruiz Perron, BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors.

Photo Credits by Lisa Love Juliot, BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors.