Docteur Nico – El Guantanamo

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.

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 En GuantanamoDocteur 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:

What a voice!

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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