Matahambre Son, Short Stories About Cuba

Hamburg, Germany – Matahambre Son is a recording packaged in a booklet form, full of gorgeous photography of the people and places that make up Matahambre.

The cradle of the traditional Cuban music lies in the Eastern part of Cuba, some ways away from Havana. Santiago de Cuba is considered the center of Cuban Son. Countless musicians and bands come from that region such as Vieja Trova Santiaguera, Compay Segundo and Eliades Ochoa. José Ochoa, who along with the other four musicians in his family became famous with the Buena Vista Social Club, discovered Matahambre Son. One day, while cruising dusty country roads he arrived in a small village, where foreigners rarely turn up: Matahambre.

The place gets its name, meaning “where hunger ends”, from a legend that a group of soldiers arrived craving food and sustained themselves on the local mango.

Today the citizens of Matahambre grow coffee and fruit. There are no “cultural” outlets. These people are peasants. They work the fields singing and inventing their own songs and rhythms.

When José Ochoa made his stopover in Matahambre, he heard some music at dawn – six men gathered on a porch. More and more people crowded around. Their songs told about those they knew in the village: about Gavino, whose wife had walked out on him; about Bigote de Gato, who got his nickname because of his mustache and who now lives in Havana; about the drunkard staggering through the streets at night; about the beautiful women, the fiestas, abandoned husbands and timid girls, about chickens and dogs. Small stories from a little village in the eastern region of Cuba.

When German label Danza y Movimento arrived there in 2000 accompanied by José Ochoa, they encountered an open-minded people. This CD passes on their music and along with the beautiful photography in the book allows the listener to be more than a mere spectator.

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.