Blue Note Entertainment Group has launched a new music travel division with a line-up of spring and summer cultural trips to Cuba. The company, whose properties include New York’s Blue Note Jazz Club, B.B. King’s and the Highline Ballroom, is expected to announce tours to other music travel destinations in the coming weeks.
The just-announced Blue Note Travel Cuba itineraries include “City & Countryside,” which “spotlights Havana’s urban life with an escape to the countryside,” and a historical island tour called “Cuba Past & Present.”
Recalling the pre-Revolutionary days when commercial jets full of gamblers and dance lovers would hop to the island from Miami just in time for Friday cocktail hour, Blue Note is offering a “Havana Weekend” package, “designed for busy people who want to fully experience Cuba’s vibrant capital city on a short schedule.”
“Over the years, many of our venue patrons have inquired about music-centric trips to prime destinations and music festivals around the world,” says Steven Bensusan, President of Blue Note Entertainment Group said. “…We’re particularly excited to launch Blue Note Travel with Cuba as our first destination, given the recent political developments.”
Blue Note’s announcement came on the eve of a meeting between President Obama and Raul Castro at the Americas Summit in Panama Friday (April 10), where Obama was expected to announce that Cuba would be taken off the U.S. list of terrorist countries.
Blue Note Travel is offering the Cuba trips in partnership with Cultural Island Travel, an agency that has been taking Americans to the island since 1999 under still-current regulations that stipulate that such trips must have a cultural, not touristic purposes. That line in reality becomes blurred, particularly when the itinerary includes hearing bands in Cuban clubs.
In late 2014, Blue Note opened the Latin and world music club Subrosa in Manhattan, which has featured Cuban music shows. Percussionist and singer Pedrito Martinez, who has been in residence at the club with his band since its opening, performs there April 14 and 15. The Grammy-winning artist who calls himself Alex Cuba will play April 16-18 at Subrosa.