Cuba, an island shaped by revolution, is a treasure chest of musical styles and influences. The Rough Guide To the Music Of Cuba touches on these numerous styles, from danzon, son, guaracha, Afro-Cuban jazz, and musica campesina represented by the queen of the genre – Celina Gonzalez.
Music is Cuba’s greatest export and this Rough Guide collection kicks off with a rare treat from Orquesta Riverside – a blast of pure Cuban magic - followed by the jazz-influenced sounds of Irakere with their classic Rucu Rucu A Santa Clara. Next up the queen of musica campesina, Celina Gonzalez takes the stage and sings her most famous song Santa Barbara, paying homage to Chango, the spirit of war and fire.
A number of superb exponents of son are featured, including the formidable nine-piece Sierra Maestra with the traditional son line-up of trumpet, tres, guitar, bongos, guiro, maracas, clave and vocals, the rural son of The Valera Miranda Family, and possibly the most successful son band to date, Los Van Van.
Afro-Cuban jazz is also highlighted with superb contributions from the legendary Cuban-born, New York-based trumpeter Mario Bauza, the lighter sound of Bellita adding a women’s perspective and a dynamic instrumental work-out by Chico O’Farrill Y All Stars Cubano. Collaboration is the order of the day for the talented collective Ritmo Y Candela, that feature some great names including Jose Luis “Changuito” Quintana (drums), Oreste Vilato (timbales and guiro) and the phenomenal congo-player Carlos “Patato” Valdez.
Other styles are showcased by the guaracha master Nico Saquito, the blending of danzon and son by the only surviving estudiantina – Estudiantina Invasora, and the combined talents of Vieja Trova Santiaguera profiling son, bolero and guaracha dating back to the 19th century.