|Buenos Aires Herald, 7 de enero de 2005
Man who jazzes up Punta's summer
If one word can be used to describe producer Francisco Yobino, that word is "tenacious." This year the Lapataia Jazz Festival celebrates its tenth anniversary, but if it weren't for Yobino's tenacity, there would never have been a festival at all and it certainly would never have survived the region's repeated economic meltdowns to reach the age of ten.
But thanks to that tenacity and a knack for dreaming impossible dreams, each summer some of the world's best jazz musicians ignite the nights of Punta del Este with their prowess and verve.
The indefatigable Yobino seems to have been born to organize an event as crazy as turning a dairy farm into South America's most prestigious jazz festival. Yobino's obsession with the details is such that he hand delivers the plane tickets to the musicians whenever possible — even if it includes a trip to New York to do so. And before the festival became the major event that it is, he himself would be waiting at the airport when the musicians got off their planes.
It was back in 1988 that it occurred to Yobino that Punta del Este deserved a jazz festival. The only obstacle was, by his own admission, his complete lack of experience. Yobino may make some of Uruguay's best dulce de leche (the Lapataia brand) on his farm and play serious jazz over the loudspeakers while his cows are being milked, but back then he did not know the first thing about organizing a jazz festival.
Characteristically for a dreamer like Yobino, that did not stop him. He says of those first years, "I was improvising exactly like a group of jazz musicians."
By 1996, with the aid of Music Director Paquito D'Rivera, Yobino inaugurated his first open-air jazz festival. While at the end of the festival each year Yobino swears there's no way he will be able to do it again, come January the jazz pilgrimage to Punta del Este begins anew.
Today, Yobino's festival is firmly on the world's jazz map. Reporter Bob Blumenthal of the US magazine Jazz Times wrote, "Add the excellent sound, a respectful and responsive audience, and efficient festival staff, a great post-concert dinner hang at the Lapataia restaurant and complimentary champagne between concert sets and you get an annual event just waiting to be discovered by the wider jazz audience."
For Yobino, putting on the festival each year is a labour of love. Paquito calls him "Don Quijote of the Dairy Farm." Against all odds, Yobino has transformed his farm in Punta del Este into a preferred destination for jazz musicians from around the world. Saxophonist Joe Lovano calls the festival his "musical home." Many musicians do all they can to get an invitation — and it's no wonder with Yobino's children taking big-time New York jazz names on horseback rides around the farm, the good times and jam sessions at the farm's restaurant after the show, and the cows cuddling up behind the stage to hear that celestial music.
All thanks to Yobino.