Photo taken at: San Francisco State University
Photo taken at: San Francisco State University
For many decades now Summer has been the season for music festivals. Long before Cochella and Bonaroo there was the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and Newport Jazz Festival in the US. Both started as showcasing exclusively Jazz music, but by 1970 Montreux began opening up to all styles of music while Newport has for the most part stuck to purely Jazz. 1n 1978 one legendary group from Cuba played at both festivals—Irakere. A ton has already been documented about them (here’s a great piece at Jazz Profiles) so I won’t go too deeply here. This was their release the following year that documented their international tour at these two festivals. After 35 years their fusion of afro-latin folkloric rhythms with jazz, rock and funk still hits hard as ever, not to mention the album art is still one of the best you’ll find.
Aguanile – Irakere
Unfortunately, one thing we don’t see as much with festivals is the larger grand mission. At best the aim of any festival now is trying to showcase new musical talent. Nothing wrong with bringing new artists to the masses, however there was once a time when organizers were attempting to build international solidarity and peace with their festivals. You may be thinking I’m heading toward Woodstock, not quite. This live record Le Blé Et Le Mil by Toubabou lead me learning about Le Festival international de la jeunesse francophone, la Superfrancofête. (The International Festival of Francophile Youth, Super-French-Party) that was held in August of 1974. It’s goal was to build international solidarity with citizens of the many French speaking countries of the world. Over the course of 12 days the city featured many invited musicians, visual artists and even held sporting events. Superfrancofête was attended by more than 800,000 people in total and on the closing night the local Quebec band Toubabou teamed up with invited musicians from Senegal. Like Irakere, Toubabou were pushing the envelope of fusion by using traditional rhythms in more a modern context of electric instruments with layers of jazz and funk. They may never have attained the international acclaim of Irakere, but they were definitely onto something. Have a listen…
Yama Nekh – Toubabou
Doudou N’Diaye – Toubabou
If you’ve listened to our promo mix you’ll know that the inspiration for La Pelanga was born at a summer music festival in Cali, Colombia. Hopefully we’ll all get to return to Festival Petronio Álverez again soon, but in the meantime let us know what other great music festivals are out there. Do you have a favorite?
Here’s to great live music,
A touch of nationalism now and then isn’t a bad thing, as long as it isn’t dogmatic. It’s even better when it’s shared musically. What I like about this record is the very notion behind it: a Cuban group performing in honor of Peru. That’s pan-Latin Americanism I can get behind…
Canto A Perú by Conjunto Palmas Y Cañas De Cuba
So today, December 4, is el dia de Santa Barbara. For those in Cuba who believe in her and Chango (the Orishas deity) today is a day of great celebration and gives myself a wonderful reason to present the amazing Celina González Zamora and her husband Reutilio Domínguez, better known as Celina y Reutilio. Their music represents the Cuban countryside (guajiro) and Cuban gauracha. The first thing you will likely notice about their music is her voice. It’s at the forefront of their music and with good reason. The power, pride and conviction that comes across with every syllable she sings grabs a hold of you and commands total respect. Here is one their of their biggest hits, A Santa Barbara taken from their album from the same name.
I have to insist you watch this video of Celina y Reutilio performing A Santa Barbara from a Cuban movie called Rincon Criollo from the 1950s. The sound is extremely low so I recommend playing the audio track at the same time as this video. The reason being is because of the AMAZING dancing that accompanies the music in this scene. Take note this guy is wearing a machete at his waste the entire time AND even does the Michael Jackson toe stand!
For you salsa lovers you likely recognize this song as Celia Cruz had it hit with it, but my favorite salsa version is from the legendary Fruko who did an amazing melody of Celina y Reutilio’s A Santa Barbara, San Lozaro (sometimes refereed to as Babalu) and A La Caridad Del Cobre taken from his album Ayunando. Both these albums are reprinted on CD and I can’t recommend them enough. Enjoy!
P.S. Thanks to Papicultor for lending me Fruko’s version!
I bought this record in New York years ago; I can’t remember when really. The handwritten note on the side of this LP reads: “Con cariño para Rolando. Mi primer disco con Machito.” [With affection for Rolando. My first album with Machito]. It’s signed Virgilio and dated 4/12/63. 47 years ago today… (or 47 years ago on December 12…)
Anyone know who this Virgilio is?
Para Ti by Machito
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We’ve already told you that a lot of our favorite “Latin” music from the 70s and 80s was heavily influenced by the records arriving at that time from Africa, and particularly from the Congo. Maybe this is no surprise, given how much Cuban music shaped the Congolese rumba, which was some of the most popular music in Africa in the 50s and 60s. You’ve gotta love how these guys faked their way through the Spanish lyrics and, more importantly, took the classic son cubano to a new level. Here’s a lovely example, a cover of “En Guantanamo” by the tremendous guitarist Docteur Nico.
En Guantanamo – Docteur Nico
I feel like I’ve heard several versions of that song throughout the years, but I’d never thought to look up what it sounded like pre-1960. Our visit to Marcos Juarez’s great radio show on KALX prompted me to do a bit of research; clearly, Abelardo Barroso is who these guys were listening to:
Of course the love affair didn’t start or end there. It goes without saying that the early sones cubanos of the 20s and 30s could not have existed without the African influence in the island. And in 2008, here is Colombia’s La Makina del Caribe covering “Sai” by the Congolese soukous star Kanda Bongo Man.
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More amazing, inspirational women that continue to rock the stage with their great energy and musical prowess, right through their granny years. Watch how they pick it up at 4:22!
– china tu madre
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