Posts Tagged ‘cuba’

Win Buena Vista Social Club on double vinyl!

Posted on October 17th, 2015 in News, Recent posts by .


Win one of two copies of Buena Vista Social Club on double vinyl by entering our competition


Buena Vista Social Club, recorded over seven days in Havana, Cuba, was released almost two decades ago in 1997. Gaining critical acclaim it went on to become a worldwide phenomenon, selling over eight million copies, showcasing Cuba’s vibrant music scene and made itself a benchmark for many other world music records.

World Circuit Records are to release the album on double vinyl in Europe on October 23 for the very first time.

We have two copies of the reissue vinyl to give away. For your chance to win, submit your competition entry using the form below.

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Manana – Cuba’s first electronic music festival

Posted on October 16th, 2015 in News, Recent posts by .

Manana - Alain Artola

When Harry Follett moved to Santiago de Cuba, he met Cuban musician Alain Garcia Artola and together they set up a temporary studio where they recorded various folkloric music from Cuba. Inspired, they set out to help preserve Cuba’s lesser-known folkloric genres as well as encourage dialogue between the traditional musicians and electronic producers. Thus Manana was born, a non-profit organisation and festival.

Manana, as Artola explains, “stands for ability and dexterity… each artist has their own manana, but [it] is a feeling that is born deep in the soul of the artist.” The festival, due to take place May 4-6 2016 in Santiago de Cuba, will connect Afro-Cuban musicians with the global electronic community. In addition to the festival, Manana plan on creating a permanent studio space in Santiago, which will continue to encourage the same collaborations all year long.

Already teamed up with tropical DJ collective Sofrito and international arts production company No-Nation, Manana are asking for public support through a Kickstarter campaign which ends on November 13. So far more than £10,000 has been pledged towards their £40,000 goal.

Check out the campaign here and hear a recent set played in Edinburgh via Soundcloud.

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The Songlines Essential 10: Cuban Albums

Posted on July 1st, 2015 in Features, Recent posts by .

With Buena Vista Social Club bidding the world adios, Jane Cornwell reminds us of a wealth of releases that prove Cuba has always been a musical powerhouse


Afro-Cuban AllstarsAfro-Cuban Allstars

A Toda Cuba Le Gusta (World Circuit, 1997)

Earthy yet polished, unassuming yet slick, this lively recording was overshadowed by the powerhouse that was the Buena Vista Social Club, which was released on its heels. Helmed by tres player Juan de Marcos González, and featuring the likes of crooner Ibrahim Ferrer, bassist Cachaíto Lopez and pianist Rubén González alongside other veterans, it mixed up everything from bolero, chachachá and salsa to danzón and son montuno and was nominated for a Grammy in the process.



Buena Vista Social ClubBuena Vista Social Club

Buena Vista Social Club (World Circuit, 1997)

Omara, Rubén, Ibrahim, Compay, Cachaíto, Anga…  No surnames required for the stars of this word-of-mouth phenomenon, the biggest selling Cuban album (and film) in the world. Named after a member’s club in Havana, and featuring a bunch of elderly maestros, the Ry Cooder-produced disc soundtracked every late 90s dinner party, sparking a revival of international interest in traditional Cuban music and a zillion salsa classes.



Master Sessions Vol 1 (Crescent/Epic, 1994)

A lesson in the history of modern Cuban music. The Grammy-winning bassist, composer and so-called ‘Father of Mambo’, Israel ‘Cachao’ López might have faded into obscurity had the Hollywood actor Andy Garcia not produced this, with its sensual sones, mambos, danzóns and rumbas all livened by the complex vitality at their core. There are chants, horns and guitars but really – it’s all about that bass.


Celia Cruz & Johnny PachecoCelia Cruz & Johnny Pacheco

Celia y Johnny (Fania, 2006)

Mega-diva Celia Cruz was the queen of salsa. This clever collaboration with Dominican-born flautist and percussionist Johnny Pacheco combined groove and charm and launched Cruz as one of the most dynamic salsa singers around. Opener ‘Quimbara’, a fierce rumba, remains a classic; the track ‘Toro Mata’ features some of the most inventive ad-libs Cruz ever came up with. Magic.


Ruben GonzalezRubén González

Introducing…Rubén González (World Circuit, 1997)

The debut studio album by the 77-year-old Afro-Cuban pianist. Cut in a day after the Buena Vista Social Club recording, Introducing… contains some of the finest, most romantic Cuban piano music you’ll ever hear. Deft percussion and lone trumpet are the cherry on top.




Indestructible (Sony, 1997)

Irakere changed the face of Latin jazz. Founded in 1973 this small Cuban-style big band merged jazz, rock, classical music and traditional Cuban rhythms including those of Santería; discovered by Dizzy Gillespie, they created an extraordinary body of work including this glorious dance recording.


La LupeLa Lupe

The Best (Orchard, 2011)

La Lupe was wild, often unhinged and frequently misunderstood. She was also one of the greatest voices of Spanish-language music anywhere, ever. If her onstage theatrics – biting her arms, tearing off her clothes – made her infamous, this sublime Best Of is a reminder of her strong, sensual take on ballads. Think a Spanish-speaking version of Judy Garland.



A Lo Cubano (Universal Latino, 2000)

This is the album with which the innovative Afro-Cuban hip-hop group exploded onto the international scene. Melodiously mixing rap and funk with everything from son and timba to guaguancó, the lyrics touch on everyday life in Havana.


Mongo SantamariaMongo Santamaria

Afro Roots (Prestige Records, 1989)

A CD reissue of the first two albums by the great conguero Ramón ‘Mongo’ Santamaría, who arrived in the US steeped in traditional Afro-Cuban ritual music and let rip on his drums, laying the foundations for Latin jazz. It features the frequently covered jazz standard ‘Afro Blue’, along with rhythms including rumba, merengue-rumba and a sophisticated mambo, ‘Mazacote’. Listen out, too, for Pablo Mozo, a maestro of the cowbell.


Los Van vanLos Van Van

Songo (Mango, 1998)

This 15-piece juggernaut have been soundtracking life on Cuba for over three decades. Songo was the album that unleashed Juan Formell & co on an unsuspecting US, chock-a-block as it is with trombones, guitars, synth hooks and other rhythms aside from their self-styled, ever danceable songo. Laced with a retro tropical vibe, all eight songs on this disc are winners.

This article originally appeared in Songlines issue 109, July 2015. Subscribe to Songlines.

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Live Review | Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club farewell tour, April 5

Posted on April 10th, 2015 in Live, Recent posts, Reviews by .


Photography by Carlos Pericás

Jon Lusk attended Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club’s show at the Royal Albert Hall on April 5 as they say goodbye on their Adios tour.

Having effectively revitalised  Cuban music in the late 90s, Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club have embarked on their final tour to say adios. But never say never…

Sold out three months in advance, the crowd were often grinning from ear-to-ear and applauding on their feet towards the triumphant conclusion of a generous and comprehensive two hour-plus set. Playing David to the approaching musical Goliath, Cuban support act Omar Puente with his fiddle, bass and piano trio had somehow managed to hold the attention of an audience that weren’t expecting them at all.

With so many of the old-timers having long departed, it was heartening to see original core members such as trumpeter Guajiro Mirabal playing alongside his grandson Guajirito, and a walrus-moustachioed Barbarito Torres chiming his laúd against the bright notes picked out by guest tresero Papi Oviedo. He danced gleefully with Omara Portuondo, who can somehow still belt out ‘No Me Llores’ and move onstage much like she used to, despite her 80-plus years. Often alongside musical director, trombonist and singer Jesus Aguaje Ramos in a suave white suit, Portuondo was a colourful and vivacious mistress of ceremonies and lead singer

And with talented new recruits such as singers Carlos Calunga and Idania Valdés (daughter of their former timbales player Amadito Valdés), one suspects that – like Arnold Schwarzenegger –  they’ll be back.  Hasta la vista, baby.

Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club are on tour in the UK until July 30. Read our review of Lost and Found.


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