Saúl Zavarce, Presenter and Producer

I was born in Caracas, Venezuela and came from a very musical family. Without the ability to play music myself, I decided to learn about music. Growing up in Venezuela, I took Latin music for granted; dancing was just part of any party. At the age of 11 I used to sit next to the DJ of the party, trying to learn how to use the equipment; then dancing became a necessity. In Venezuela it is very unpopular with the opposite sex if you don’t know how to dance well, at least Salsa and Merengue. 

After five years in Sydney, I arrived in Melbourne in January 1997 and while looking for a house to rent on a Friday morning, I flicked on the radio and heard a Latin music show presented in English (PBS’s, Latin Connection). I had a good look at the dial and the next morning I heard a jazz fusion show Bitches Brew. I could not believe the quality of the music on those two shows; I became a member of PBS during the radio festival that year and never looked back. 

I kept tuning in, and I spoke with both Sarah Tartakover and Len Davis the respective announcers of Latin Connection and Bitches Brew and I told them about my music collection, they were very impressed and allowed me to produce some specials on both their programs. The response from the public was great; eventually Len encouraged me to do the announcer course and Fiesta Jazz was born.

 Fiesta Jazz plays Latin jazz from traditional, instrumental and vocal Afro-Caribbean, Spanish and Brazilian jazz, as well as Latin-influenced fusion, played by non-Latin musicians, along with fusions of jazz and Latin American folk rhythms. You'll hear groups and musicians of the calibre of Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Antonio Carlos Jobím, Paco De Lucía, Mongo Santamaría, Carlos Santana, Irakere, Guaco, Tom Coster, Martes 8:30, Pat Metheny, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, George Benson, Alfredo Naranjo, Michel Camilo, Sergio Méndez, William Cepeda, Paquito D'Rivera, Arturo Sandoval, Hilton Ruíz, Eddie Palmieri, Luis Bonfa, Chick Corea, Giovanni Hidalgo, Rubén Blades, Chano Domínguez, Steve Khan and many more including a wide range of independent artists

 Ever since Fiesta Jazz started ten years ago on Sunday mornings the response from the listeners has been overwhelming. The response from the international artists is great simply because it’s very hard to find shows anywhere in the world that play the music that we play here on PBS FM.

 PBS allows me to share my music and my culture to all the public in general, the fact that it is presented in English makes it accessible to everyone. I feel that I have the responsibility of being informative as well as entertaining. It is a thrill to share the passion that Latin music transmits, music that can be romantic without words, that has the ability to make you happy no matter how complicated the musical notes are. There is no need to understand the lyrics just feel it and dance. I want to get across to my audience the joy and the flavour of Latin music, combined with the virtuosity of jazz musicians; my Latin culture, the passion, the happiness—everything that I feel inside when the rhythm is played.


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