The southwestern Uruguayan city of Mercedes presents starting this Saturday the 11th Jazz on the Street festival, a night of musical exchanges that every year attracts musicians from around the world to perform onstage and off.

Organized by the non-profit Jazz on the Street Cultural Movement, the event will present 25 bands from Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, Cuba, France, Germany, the United States and Uruguay.

Besides those on the official list of performers, "thousands of other musicians show up every year," Horacio Acosta, one of the organizers, told EFE.

Musicians can be found putting together street shows in areas around the stage, in jam sessions and in the jazz workshops and clinics also offered by the festival, or simply in the audience.

"We consider to be members of the (Jazz on the Street) movement all the musicians who come to visit us," Acosta said.

The main shows attract an average of 2,500 people every day, but the impromptu street performances and jazz workshops also get their share of the audience.

Many foreigners travel to the city to see the festival, particularly from the neighboring countries of Argentina and Brazil, the organizer said, while noting that the movement "has grown a lot," both in attendance and in the quality of the performances in general.

What is most interesting about the event, Acosta said, is that the music is truly diverse, since the musical tradition of each country is clearly reflected in the jazz the bands play.

Besides the scheduled performances, there are improv sessions where the musicians are urged to interact with one another.

"That's the part that really interests us and what we call encounters," the organizer said.

Jazz on the Street will begin this Saturday and will go on for nine days, until Sunday, Jan. 21.

The guest bands will play on the Manzana 20 stage starting at 9:00 pm, while the street groups will begin to assemble in afternoon.

The jazz workshops and clinics also being earlier, but usually continue until the early hours the next day, usually wrapping it up around 4:00 am.