For the first time since the Cuban Revolution in 1959, when Fidel Castro first gained power, the less combative stance of the Carter administration opened an important diplomatic window between Cuba and the United States. After two decades, the U.S. ban on travel to and from Cuba was lifted, creating new diplomatic and cultural exchange opportunities. Sensing the time was right, CBS Records, in conjunction with the U.S. State Department, staged an international coup by organizing an unprecedented three-night series of concerts in the Cuban capital of Havana. Dubbed "Havana Jam," this historic cultural exchange took place on March 2, 3 and 4, 1979 at the 4800-seat Karl Marx Theater and marked the first time American musicians had performed in Cuba since the Castro regime gained power two decades prior.
The King Biscuit Flower Hour accompanied a plane full of Columbia Records artists as they participated in this first comprehensive music festival held in Cuba, which featured an all-star cast of musicians from a wide range of musical genres. In addition to the cream of the crop of Cuban artists, performers included Weather Report (with Jaco Pastorius on board); Stephen Stills (who had been experimenting with Latin music his entire career); Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge (at the tail end of their marriage); John McLaughlin (famed Mahavishnu Orchestra guitarist) performing a one-off trio gig with Tony Williams and Jaco Pastorius; the CBS Records Jazz Allstars, which featured a wealth of jazz greats including the Heath Brothers, Stan Getz, and Dexter Gordon, in addition to the final night headliner Billy Joel. Two albums featuring highlights from these concerts would be issued and in April of 1979, the King Biscuit Flower Hour would nationally broadcast additional material from these historic concerts, most of which has never been officially released.
Here we present that entire King Biscuit broadcast.