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Road To Merida - Part 2 - Elliott Levin


Cancun/Merida; May 16, 2013

Arrive in Cancun... swoon through the Yucatan 180...
void past Valladolid... Popola... Chichenitza...
into Merida... Steaming spring eternal
humid-if-i-cation... revived by Sopa Limon...
a Mayan tonic (lemon spiced chicken broth
with tortilla strips)... Leads to Olimpo Sonic
(theater/venue of our opening & closing night concerts).
Just in time for the closing set of the opening night concert:

John Blum (long-time collaborator from NYC)- piano; Armando Martin( electric guitar)-who broke 3 strings in the course of this set; Arturo Baez (bass)- whose ineffective borrowed pick-up shredded his fingers; Milo Tamez (drums)- these latter 3 all Mexican natives, and our first time collaborating- with myself (tenor sax, flute, words).

Despite and/or because of the excessive heat (over 100 F every day), travel (3 hr.flight/ 3 hr. van ride), and technical obstacles previously listed, the music has a way of finding a level of energy, magic, and excitement which makes  it all worthwhile.

New blooms of multiphonic tidal waves for days...
Into the 62nd Calle Hotel Colonial 4 a.m.
herbalistic roof top session...
Leaves one quest breathless,
amazed in the path to daylight
saved, which soon, can.

Link To Official CHA’AK’AB PAAXIL 2013 Photo Gallery

Cancun/Merida; May 17, 2013

Pro-Mayan Philosophy { Peace/Harmony/Art}

Woke up to a workshop at "Escuela de Artes de Yucatan" with 4 young male sax students (teen agers), plus an interpreter- music major bass/guitar/composer Alejandra Trres- who not only translates, but asks some of the most relevant and provocative questions. They are all interested in the process and magic of how "free jazz" come into being. Trying to come to terms with it's more organic, and less materialistic inspirations and expression.
Came back to the Hotel Colonial and took a walk, passing many small markets lining the streets surrounding our location, towards the center square-"Zocalo".

One open air arcade area is a co-op of the native aritsans... Met Jesus- a self-described  "Pro-Mayan" hammock maker, who pro-ex-claimed their prediliction towards PEACE, HARMONY, ART... dealing extensively with music, painting, poetry, architecture, philosophy, and so forth...

He showed us his hammock stitch work technique...

Also how to crush and make use of differnet organic (seeds, insect shells), and mineral (stones, clay) substances to get colors for the dyes of the intensely multi-colored- like the  electric-purple/blue Popol-Vuh mini- tapestries, telling the story of "Infinities"!

Went to a concert that night in the lush tropic garden courtyard of "MACAY" (Museum of Contemporary Art of Yucatan)- where Blaise Siwula, Misha MArks, Alejandro Folgarlas, Arturo Baez, Dario Bernal Villegas do a spontaneous improvisation.

After the concert had a Mayan meal of pumpkin seed tamales, some green leafy Chaya loaf, and shredded turkey.
The majority of the staff and musician work force of the Festival adjourned to the adjoined Mexi-German Brew House across from the hotel...

to be carried into late night session on a neighboring artist's near-by roof-top
until dawn...

Ruth tapestry

Ruth Lewis with "Story of the Infinities"


Ruth at MACAY
Ruth Lewis in courtyard of MACAY ( Museum of Contemporary Art of Yucatan)


MACAY performance

Courtyard of MACAY concert: Dario Bernal Villegas -drums; Blaise Siwula - alto; Misha Marks - baritone horn; Alejandro Folgaros - tenor;


Merida; May 18, 2013

Played tonight at The Delorean Bar- in an open-air courtyard, after a long somewhat over-drawn sound-check...
A "sweaty quartet... in for the end of time... for the being..." was very much "here!"... "now!"
Enough to rehearse the future (who says you can't)... or at least, a sponsor.
Electric "latarra"of Misha Marks- (a New Zealand ex-patriot with whom I've played in both Mexico City & Phila.)- git-fiddle-fit-ing in and out of tribute and tune to preceedings...
Maria Lipkau, show shredding woes, wedding bass (i-call) cello tracks...
Dario Bernal Villegas alights white washed black beats, completes the fete, with my own personal bar code mode and bleat... was my personal treat- opening set for ("everybody loves") Saturday night.
Followed by fault founded lap-top-solo-ectomies... sonic soujourns...
Pairs/solos, duos, then back inside for more acoustic /microtonal fare...
Until we adjourned to yet another Yucatan roof top stop...
A muggy Sunday early morning special...unitl the pre-dawn birds
foretell yet another fate...



Monument to the Flag, the history of Mexico is carved on its walls (near Club Delorean)


Playing In Merida  el

Concert in courtyard of Delorean - Elliot Levin - tenor; Misha Marks - latarra; Maria Lipkau - cello; Dario Bernal Villegas - drums; Elliot Levin outside of club.


Pro-Mayan prediliction in Pro-Ex-claimed
 PEACE... HARMONY... ART... by good "doctor"
Hey...!Zeus! whose hammock handiwork makes good
  use of indigo-charcoal-train of thought...
   Beetle chitin crackin red-stain,
    yellow bowled dried golden flower buds
     await their strands of tapestry
      stranded fate...
                             Telling the
story of the "Infinities" through electro- purple blue
 Popol Vuh square cut and sown barterable
  bargains... between artists... an act
   of philosophy and tact...
    and starts us on the
     road, back to the roots...
A sessional confessional to follow where
   multi-har- melodic-lingual
    pro- & con- fessional
     expression wallos...
  in what I'll assume , is unknown
   and as un-amateur as one can-
    (cun), 2 can play as cheap as one (can)...
     hit... (it's ) a wonder...
      of the Yucatan.



Elliott Levin sitting in with Cuban band La Siembra at Mayan Pub.



J.B.-piano; Elliott Levin- tenor; D.B.V. - drums;


Merida; May 20, 2013


Elliott Levin-flute; M.M.- latarra; A.B.- bass; B.S.- clarinet; M.T.- drums; Gerardo Alejos Victoria- producer;

Overcast and reeled in Los Peces exclusivos de las cenotes de Yucatan...
Gimpy mossy-rocked footway down around the Cenote Xlacah.
Open-hole sunk beneath/sides the "longest stairway" existing
of thew Mayan Dzibil-Chaltun...
approaching honed mounting owned solstic-stoned mound
to frame the summer sun's rays...

(all through the grace, grit and gumption of our guide, hostess, and inspiration, "Drycita"- who paves the Sun's day/way in pyramidic sway... and led for our dip ( or in Ruth's case- full body immersion, though unintentional as it may have been)in the cool healing under-ground river's healing waters of one of the many (this one) open-air sink hole pools...where I was enthusiastically celebrated and followed by ever increasing and persistent schools of pool-fish, who seem to- as Drycita says- prefer my whitest meat in the pond)...

Back- Olimpo bound- to close out the night and The Festival... first a mid-set trio con brio (with John, Dario, and I) and then-some/awe-some...growing leaps & bounds..sweeps and sounds...founded back past Olmec headed/ Mayan heiroglyphic ground bounty of psychic mused music.
The micro/yin -cosmically grounded trio of Bhob Rainey (soprano)/Greg Kelley (trompet)/Sean Meehan (tarola)- is sandwiched between the macro/yang finale set, where I am joined by Blaise (alto/clarinet), Misha (latarra, baritone horn), Arturo (bass), and Milo (drums)...where we are introduced- and let loose- by our perennial promoter & host, Gerardo Albatross... with the most endearing and soul-cheering toast.

 Olimpo-yen speedy granduer breden Domingo-effect, spanned your
semi-best-laid-planned de-obsolesence...
Motley in-en-car-semble nations and notions of pale shaded
potent potions and modulations into an "alt-issma" range
on the home... Court-back-yard world stage...
To "La Siembra's" Cuban-toned "son".

(An after party hearty, at Mayan World stage with a Mexi-Cubano band...sitting in... all the rage)...

Via Vista Buena, clubbed social salsa dancing ... with the stars...
and forever striped march, in the tempo of the Temple of the 7 Dolls.
Late night/spring sprung in our step...
Flamboya (like the bright orange leaved trees)- floored...
flavored, and favored world-un-wearied and un-hurried
tao and karma- sound,
found... in Merida.

Isla Mujeres; May 21, 2013

La Triguena...
                      Isla... La Mujer Nativa...
con su incomparable belleza esta impregnada de
     brisa marina con aire hacias las estrellas...

       Blue, clear, salt water sunset baths...
                  a little too little, yet
                back to Maria Leticia Aparts
               refreshed enough to wend paths
              through the cubby-coved back-alley-ways
             of this isle of Quintana Roo...
                                                          Yuca- tan/white/red-
            snapper gar-licked just right-eous, con verduras...
(goes together like blanco on arroz) in Spanish Har-Ha-Lem-vana...
 Mexi-Cubano Salsa resplendant again, despite a slight decibel up-end-age
  with a bent to resonate and rebound a bit
   around the quaintly burnished charm of
    sea-air-washed (out) streets... (in)formed
     largely by the muggy tugged pre-summer night
      trade winds... bartered for a night gate passage
       Oxxo excursion in a fashion with a passion
        for beached bars, far under the reached stars...
           sweat buen sueno... buenos... buena suena
             de La Triguena.



May 21st, 2013

On dock, waiting for ferry, leaving Isla Mujeres to head to Cancun airport to fly back to Philadelphia.


More Audio Performances:



Revisit Part 1 Here

In May of 2013, Philadelphia saxophonist and poet, Elliott Levin set off on a brief musical tour. He traveled to perform in the Cha'ak'ab Paaxil: Festival of Improvisation, Free Jazz & Noisiness, which takes place in the beautiful coastal city of Merida, Mexico. Levin went not as a headliner, but as a guest to jam and collaborate with some old and new friends. What you read was a sort of poetry, photo, video, musical journal of his trip.

Levin is planning a return to the Cha'ak'ab Paaxil: Festival later this month. However to do so, he needs some support. If you'd like help, feel free to contact him at:


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Tags : ElliottLevin Merida Mexico DennisGonzalez Dallas Jazz Poetry Cha'ak'abPaaxil FestivalofImprovisation FreeJazz&Noisiness


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