Tag Archives: Cuban music

Artist Profiles: Dayramir González

Dayramir González

 

Pianist, composer, arranger, producer and band leader Dayramir González Vicet was born on October 18, 1983 in Havana, Cuba.

He grew up in a family of musicians. His father, Fabian Gonzalez, is a successful Afro-Cuban jazz trumpet player. At the age of 7, Dayramir began his classical piano studies under the tutelage of Amado Touza and Miriam Valdés. This was followed by intermediate level studies under the guidance of the prestigious Cuban pianist and composer Huberal Herrera.

With a solid classical training, Dayramir started his professional career at 16 in the band of former Irakere vocalist and percussionist Oscar Valdés, who invited him to join Diakara as a founding member, pianist, and composer. They played at all the jazz clubs in Havana and participated in the Jazz Plaza International Festival in 2000 and 2001.

In 2002 he formed a jazz quintet made up of young people from the National Art School (ENA), with which they performed at the Jazz Festival that year, sharing the stage with saxophonist Janne Brunnet, Timbalaye and Ramón Valle, among others. In the following editions (2003 and 2004) he was presented as a guest with different formats.

In 2005 he joined Giraldo Piloto’s famed timba band, Klímax, with which he toured Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain), sharing the stage with Jerry Rivera.

 

Dayramir González

 

While working with Klímax, Dayramir formed his own band, Dayramir & Habana enTrance. Towards the end of 2005 he won the Concurso de Jóvenes Jazzistas (Young Jazz Players Competition), Jojazz.

He recorded his first album with enTrance on Cuba’s Colibrí label. This album would later win three Cubadisco awards in the categories of Best Debut Album, Best Jazz Album, and Best Engineered Recording.

Dayramir González has explored the roots of danzón and contradanza (genres that were fashionable in the mid-nineteenth and twentieth centuries in Cuba).

He received a scholarship from one of the most prestigious jazz schools, the Berklee College of Music in Boston. In 2013, Dayramir graduated Berklee Summa Cum Laude after receiving the Wayne Shorter Award for Most Outstanding Composer of the Year.

Discography:

Dayramir & Habana enTrance (Producciones Colibrí, 2007)
Solo tú y yo, with Giraldo Piloto & Klimax (EGREM, 2008)
Todo Está Bien, with Giraldo Piloto & Klimax (Bis Music, 2009)
Octave (Jazz Revelation Records, 2011)
The Grand Concourse (Machat Records, 2018)

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Dayramir González as a Formidable Orchestrator and Bandleader

Dayramir González – The Grand Concourse (Machat Records, 2018)

In recent years there’s been a wave of highly-talented Cuban pianists. Composer, arranger, producer and keyboardist Dayramir González Vicet is part of this group of skilled artists that has burst into the international music scene.

Dayramir González’s style incorporates jazz improvisation and Cuban musical forms. His compositions are modern, sometimes venturing into cutting edge fusion, featuring electric piano and synths, along with fabulous electric bass and electric guitar.

The Grand Concourse is full of pleasant surprises. He’ll follow a forward-looking Afro Cuban electric piece with an all-acoustic retro-style exquisite danzón. He also uses vibrant Afro Cuban chants and beautiful orchestrated classical strings on some of the pieces.

The album features an impressive cast of Cuban, Latin American and American musicians. Ther lineup includes: Dayramir González on Steinway grand piano, Fender Rhodes and synthesizers; Antoine Katz on electric bass; Alberto Miranda on electric bass; Carlos Mena on acoustic bass; Zwelakhe Duma-Bell Le Pere on acoustic bass; Zack Mullings on drums; Keisel Jiménez Leyva on drums; Jay Sawyer on drums ; Willy Rodriguez on drums; Raul Pineda on drums; David Rivera on drums; Paulo Stagnaro on congas, batá drums, surdo, cajón, güiro, pandero and miscellaneous percussion; Marcos López on congas and timbal; Mauricio Herrera on congas, batá drums; Pedrito Martínez on batá drums and lead vocals; Gregorio Vento on miscellaneous percussion and lead vocals; Yosvany Terry on alto saxophone and chékere; Harvis Cuni on trumpet; Oriente López on flute; Kalani Trinidad on flute; Rio Konishi on alto saxophone; Dean Tsur on alto and tenor saxophone; Edmar Colón on tenor saxophone; Ameya Kalamdani on electric and acoustic guitars; Tatiana Ferrer on backing vocals and viola; Jaclyn Sánchez on backing vocals; Nadia Washington on lead vocals and backing vocals; Ilmar López Gavilán on violin; Audrey Defreytas Hayes on violin; Jennifer Vincent on cello; Caris Visentin Liebman on oboe; and Amparo Edo Biol on French horn.

 

 

The Grand Concourse is a masterfully-crafted piano recording where contemporary American jazz and various seductive Cuban musical forms are combined with ease.

Buy The Grand Concourse

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An Era of Afro Latin Sounds from Guadeloupe and Martinique

Various Artists – Disques Debs International, An Island Story: Biguine, Afro Latin & Musique Antillaise 1960-1972, Volume 1 (Strut Records, 2018)

Strut Records, a world music label, known for reissues of music from many corners of the globe, explores the music of the French overseas territories in the Caribbean. Disques Debs International is a record label that has been producing music from of Guadeloupe and Martinique for over 50 years.

An Island Story: Biguine, Afro Latin & Musique Antillaise 1960-1972 focuses on artists from the 1960s and early 1970s. The music you’ll hear on this album has local roots from the Antillean islands as well as a strong Cuban and Latin jazz influence in terms of rhythms, instrumentation and arrangements. Vocals are in Creole French and Spanish.

Disques Debs International is a great collection of irresistible songs that demonstrates the rich musical cross-pollination that has been taking in the Caribbean for decades.

Buy Disques Debs International, An Island Story: Biguine, Afro Latin & Musique Antillaise 1960-1972, Volume 1

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Afro-Cuban All Stars to Perform at Barbican

The celebrated Afro-Cuban All Stars are set to perform Sunday, July 15, 2018 at Barbican Hall in London.

Juan de Marcos González leads the acclaimed Cunban emsemble. The band concert will feature veteran maestros of the Havana music scene as well as representatives of the next generations of Cuban music. The line-up includes Gliceria Abreu (percussion), Gliceria Gonzalez (keyboards, vibraphone, coros), Laura Lydia Gonzalez (clarinet, coros), Orlando Fraga, Yoanny Pino and Haile Uriarte (horns), Jose Marcos Crego (piano), Jiovanni Cofiño (bass), Asley Rossell (bongo, cowbell), Tany Allende (conga set), Caleb Michel (timbales, coros) and Emilio Suárez (vocals).

Reflecting the cross-generational nature of the band, Afro-Cuban All Stars will perform material both old and new for this concert. The group’s discography includes A Toda Cuba le Gusta (1997), Distinto, Diferente (1999), Baila mi Son (2000), Bajando Gervasio (2002), Live in Japan (2005), Step Forward (2005), Absolutely Live (2009) and Absolutely Live II (2017).

19:30 (7:30 p.m.)
Box office: 020 7638 8891
The Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, Greater London
www.barbican.org.uk

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The Varied Cutting Edge Musical Landscapes of Cachaito

Orlando ‘Cachaito’ López – Cachaito (World Circuit, 2018), reissue

Do you have a copy of World Circuit Record’s 2001 release of Cachaito in your music collection right now? No? Well, you need to get one immediately. Seriously, get it. I’ll wait. (Cue: elevator music.)

Okay, released in 2001 and recorded at the Egrem Studios in Havana, Cuba, Cachaito is the master work of Cuban bassist and composer Orlando ‘Cachaito’ López. Son of bassist and composer of Orestes López and nephew of bassist and mambo innovator Israel “Cachao’ López, Orlando ‘Cachaito’ López was the undisputed bassist backbone of The Buena Vista Social Club. So intrinsic to the very fabric of Cuban music, one would have to twist inside out in discussing the breadth and influence of Cuban music without mentioning Cachaito or the López family of musicians.

So, it goes without saying that the Cachaito recording is a must-have for the Cuban music devotee. It just so happens World Circuit has just made things a little more interesting with their upcoming June 22nd first ever vinyl release of Cachaito, complete with a 12-page color booklet and a post card. Leaving aside whether to choose digital, CD or vinyl debate up to personal tastes, revisiting the Cachaito release reveals that this release is one of the essentials. Whether you are a seasoned collector or a newbie who just Googled a geographical map of Cuba, Cachaito hasn’t lost a bit of its luster in the some seventeen years since it was released, nor has its importance dimmed as a cutting edge Cuban music experience.

Putting it all together is Buena Vista Social Club and Ry Cooder producer Nick Gold with recording by Jerry Boys. In addition, Cachaito is brimming over with Cuban percussion masters like conguero Miguel ‘Anga’ Diaz, timbales player Amadito Valdés and bongo player Carlos González, but listeners get goodies like Jamaica’s Bigga Morrison on Hammond organ, Cuban guitarist Manuel Galbán, the famed vocalist Ibrahim Ferrer, flutist ‘Polo’ Tamoyo, violinist Pedro ‘Depestre’ Gonzalez and trombonist Jesus ‘Aguaje’ Ramos. If that were enough, there’s also Hugh Masekela on flugelhorn, Pee Wee Ellis on tenor sax and French DJ Dee Nasty on electronics.

What makes Cachaito so wonderful is its willingness to utterly defy convention, to fly in the in the face of Cuban music and remake it. Plucking influences from dub, reggae, jazz, surf guitar music and hip hop, Mr. López tucks those varied traditions neatly into a sound that comes across as fresh, even years after the recording first release. Mr. López steps out onto the thinnest of branches and takes flight, where listeners are mere passengers to varied musical landscapes Mr. López wishes to reveal.

Opening with a phone call on “Siempre Con Swing,” Cachaito slides into the sleekly jazzy “Redencion.” Mr. López lulls listeners with the equally smooth ride of “Mis Dos Pequeñas” before dipping a wing to show off the hypnotic percussive and guitar rich landscape of “A Gozar El Tumbao.” Diving in another direction, “Cachaito In Laboratory” is hip hop coolness before veering off onto the highly polished jazzy “Tumbao No. 5 (Para Charlie Mingus).” Mr. López offers flirty flashes on the flute-laced “Conversación,” delves deep into meaty bass goodness of “Tumbanga” and shows off all the colors of plumage on “Wahira.”

When we finally land in the midst of the party on “La Negra,” it’s impossible to deny that Cachaito has provided an impossibly rich ride.

Buy the Cachaito CD or digital or the vinyl edition.

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Artist Profiles: X Alfonso

X Alfonso

X Alfonso is a renowned Cuban fusion and Afro Rock musicians. He was born on September 13, 1972 in Havana, Cuba.

As most of the young musicians from Cuba, he studied at the Conservatorio Amadeo Roldán, at the Escuela Nacional de Artes de Cuba. The famous school that earned its golden reputation as a result of the many generations of musicians who have studied here, where the creativity and the high technical level places these young men among the best musicians of the world.

Other than his excellent education, X Alfonso also comes from a world renowned musical family. His parents, Carlos and Ele, are the leaders of the band Sintesis, pioneers of progressive rock in Cuba and innovators in the fusion of Afro-Cuban rhythms and rock. Sintesis released essential albums such as Ancestros, Ancestros 2, and Orishas. The band created a characteristic genre and today, in full maturity preserves its legion of enthusiasts in Cuba and abroad. X Alfonso participated in Síntesis’ during the last few years, imprinting a characteristic of novelty on the arrangements and interpretations of the group and assimilating the musical influence from Síntesis.

Because of his musical creativity, X Alfonso accumulated a work that served as the base to his own project, which had the participation of important young Cuban musicians, like the pianist Roberto Carcasses and drummer and composer Descemer Bueno. They performed at the Karl Marx Theater in Havana, to an audience of more then 5000 people, in a memorable show that stimulated the pop environment of Cuban music.

With Mundo Real, his first solo album, completely composed and arranged by himself, X Alfonso demonstrates that it is possible to combine a pop project with all the modern influences. The mix of sonorities and timbres with suitable doses of jazz, hip-hop with the undeniable underlying Cuban rhythms. X Alfonso went from the rumba-guaguáncó, to the violins of the cha cha chá. Or the sweet closing of the song “Bailando en la distancia”, where he illustrates dreams of Cuban dances from the turn of the century finalized in a beautiful ballad.

I think that diverse styles and trends converge in me, although Cuban trends rule. It has to do with the environment in which I was brought up, listening to all sorts of music styles, from different authors, artists and countries, from African rhythms to alternative rock or instrumental music. That is why I don’t have a style or, if you wish, a favorite genre.”

My creations have pop, rock, Afro-Cuban music, folk, and reggae influences, and I don’t think the album X Moré is an exception. Even when it has been distinguished for a strong hip hop component, idea I don’t completely share, since, he who listens to the entire album will realize that from the fifth track on it ceases to be rap as such.”

X Alfonso has worked with jazz bands, founded rock band Havana, and has also wrrote music for Danza Abierta and Transit.

Discography:

Mundo Real (2000)
X Moré (2001)
Civilización (2005)
Revoluxion (2007)
Reverse (2011)

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Artist Profiles: Yosvany Terry

Yosvany Terry

Yosvany Terry was born in Cuba. He received his earliest musical training from his father, Eladio “Don Pancho” Terry, violinist and Cuba’s leading player of the chekeré. His father was also known as the founder and director of the Orquesta Maravillas de Florida, one of Cuba’s most important charanga bands. Mr. Terry went on to receive his classical music training and graduated from both the prestigious National School of Art (ENA) and Amadeo Roldan Conservatory.

While in Cuba, Yosvany was known for his musical innovation performing with Chucho Valdés, Silvio Rogriguez, Fito Paez, and Cubanismo!, as well as forming the influential group, Columna B. Their work represented the new voice of young Cuban jazz players. Columna B toured throughout the US and Europe, and in 1998 premiered their Inroads Commissioned-piece by Arts International (through the Ford Foundation) at Stanford Jazz Festival. Moving to New York in 1999, Yosvany was immediately recognized as a remarkable talent in the Jazz scene, playing with Roy Hargrove, Steve Coleman, Eddie Palmieri, Dave Douglas, Jeff Tain Watts, Horacio El Negro Hernandez, and bassist Avishai Cohen.

Always a student, Terry absorbed and incorporated American jazz traditions with his own Afro-Cuban roots to produce compositions and solo work that flow from the rhythmic and hard driving avant-garde to sweet sounding lyricism.

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Artist Profiles: Yusa

Yusa

Born in the Buena Vista district of today’s Playa and growing up in the modern Alamar housing community of east Havana, Yusa’s childhood was spent between music and the sea, cherished by her economist mother and her sailor father whose eyes always have, ‘the gaze of the sea in them.’

Yusa started with guitar, went on to Cuban tres guitar, piano and bass. She was influenced by Spanish and North American pop and jazz as by ‘nueva trova’ and son.

What inspired her debut album were the vital creative years spent jamming in the hallways and classrooms of the Amadeo Roldan Conservatory exchanging musical ideas with contemporaries such as Roberto Carcasses, who was the arranger of many of the songs on Yusa. Then there was Yusa’s time improvising female quintet Quasi-Jazz at El Zorro y el Cuervo’, the basement night club on Havana’s central La Rampa street which has been at the cutting edge of Cuban jazz since the early 20th century.

A key phenomenon of 1990s Cuba was the emergence of contemporary duos revitalizing in totally unexpected ways the older fashion of singing two part harmony with guitar. In the same way as Gema and Pavel had before them, Yusa and Domingo became a sensation in the small corner bars and neighborhood clubs where for centuries new Cuban musics have always been dreamed up.

Discography:

Yusa (Tumi Music, 2002)
Breathe (Tumi Music, 2005)
Haiku (Tumi Music, 2008)

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Artist Profiles: Vocal Sampling

Vocal Sampling in 2005

Vocal Sampling is a band where all the instruments are sung instead of played. In addition to the lead vocals and the background choruses, all the instruments of the Cuban orchestra are vocally reproduced: percussion, horns, keyboards, bass, and all the other instruments. There is no technical manipulation and no other instruments are used.

The group is comprised of six Cuban men, all accomplished instrumentalists and arrangers, who met at music school. What began as an amusing after-school game has become their full-time career.

For those new to Latin music, Vocal Sampling is a highly entertaining introduction to the rhythms and styles of Cuban music: guaracha, boleros, rumba, son and swinging salsa. For those familiar with this genre, the group always brings amazement and a smile of delight. Similar to the doo-wop groups of the United States, Vocal Sampling was formed after school and between classes, standing on the sweeping lawns of Havana’s National Superior Institute of Arts. Poney Gross, of Belgium’s Zig Zag World, met the group in Cuba while they were still students, and encouraged them to continue this approach. He arranged several European tours for them.

Very soon they began to be noticed by artists such as Bobby McFerrin, Peter Gabriel and David Byrne. Gabriel brought them to his Real World Studios in Bath, England, where they recorded two songs and Byrne included one of their earliest recordings on his Luaka Bop compilation, Diablo Al Infierno.

In 1992 the group met producer team Sammy Figueroa and Rachel Faro, who arranged for them to be signed to Paroli/BMG Music of Cologne, Germany. Faro Figueroa Productions produced the group’s first album, which attracted the attention of Sire Record’s president Seymour Stein, who immediately began steps to acquire the master. The first album, Una Forma Más, released in 1995 on Sire/Elektra Records and Warner worldwide, was a musical journey through Cuban musical culture, demonstrating several styles of classic Cuban music.

In 1995 the group made an historic tour of the United States where they were an instant success in San Francisco, New York and Puerto Rico, attracting the attention of luminaries such as Paul Simon and Carlos Santana. Since then, they have continued to tour throughout Europe and Latin America, invariably garnering multiple encores and rapturous receptions.

In the summer of 1996 they were invited to appear at the 30th Montreux Jazz Festival as the special guests of Quincy Jones for his 50th anniversary. In 1997, they were invited for a 3 weeks tour in Japan. Vocal Sampling released their second album, De Vacaciones (East West), produced by Rachel Faro and the band. De Vacaciones is almost totally comprised of original compositions and arrangements in a modern salsa style and is sure to be recognized as one of the most amazing a cappella achievements in many years.

In late 1997 the band, created by René Baños, Abel Sanabria and Reinaldo Sanler, included Jorge Núñez, Renato Mora and Oscar Porro. This artistic restructuring was executed in order to increase the musical quality of the band and to widen their potential, for example in the field of classical singing.

In 1999, the band went to Japan, Venezuela, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Isle of Reunion, Canada, Mexico and all over Europe. In October they made a special concert for the first “World Music Award” at the World Music Expo (Womex) in Berlin.

In February 2000 they recorded a new CD called “Cambio De Tiempo” and created a new show under the direction of Katina Genero (Italy). In August 2000, Vocal Sampling had a sold out performance at the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms late night concert. In December 2000, the band signed with Decca records for the international release of “Cambio de Tiempo” in 2001.

Discography:

Una Forma Mas (1995)
De Vacaciones (1997)
Live in Berlin (1998)
Cambio de Tiempo (Decca, 2002)
Akapelleando (2008)

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Artist Profiles: Vocal Baobab

Havana-based folklore group Vocal Baobab, taking their name from the Baobab, sacred tree of Africa, are known for their own highly individual take on Afro-Cuban chants and rumba.

Specializing in choral style arrangements, spiced up with the odd dash of more contemporary flavors such as reggae, their high energy performances are characterized by explosions of virtuoso dance, drumming and vocal improvisation.

Singing in Spanish and Yoruban, the seven performers of Vocal Baobab present a varied repertoire that connects their African roots with contemporary arrangements and rhythms, bringing out the afro in Afro-Cuban. Their work aims to preserve the spirit of the Yoruba and Afro-Cuban oral traditions.

With regular appearances at some of Havana’s most prestigious venues and at festivals all over the island, they were featured on Cuban television as one of the top folklore acts.

As well as attracting the commendation of esteemed authorities on Cuban culture throughout their career (Ros, Natalia Bolivar, Zenaida Armenteros, Corina Campos and Miguel Barnet) they have received accolades and played alongside luminaries in Cuban music such as Changuito, Compay Segundo and Mario Rivera (Mayito) of Los Van Van.

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