Bebo Valdes has passed away. A giant of Cuban music, he was a "big man whose music revealed a huge heart." He famously worked with Nat King Cole, and also handed down his musical chops to son Chucho, who would become one of the founding members of the band Irakere. There are some videos inside the fold to allow us to celebrate Bebo and his music. [more inside]
In April 1998, Ninja Tune duo Up Bustle & Out traveled from Bristol to Havana. They were greeted by legendary flautist Richard Egües, who would be their guide to meeting and recording a number of Cuban musicians over the next two months. The result was the two-volume Rebel Radio: The Master Sessions, an adventurous meeting point between 'the smokeyness of Bristol and the coolness of Havana'. UB&O's Rupert Mould kept a journal which he would later publish as The Rebel Radio Diaries.
You dig this Canto para Shango? Well then, you might want to peruse more of the Cuban folkloric and popular music and dance on offer at Boogalu Productions. Check out the top video on their YouTube channel for a dizzying display of the varieties of musical expression emanating from today's Cuba.
While many of Cuba's top musical figures left the country to pursue their careers in the US and elsewhere, the suave, hugely popular singer Benny Moré stayed. While he is a much loved and revered figure in Cuba, this great vocalist, who died in 1963, is not nearly as widely known outside the island nation as he should be. Viva Benny Moré! [NOTE: See hover-overs for link descriptions] [more inside]
Learn about the powerful, complex Batá drumming and dance tradition of the Yoruba people of Nigeria. Check these 6-to-8 year old Batá drummers laying down the groove. Then theres the Egungun action going on over in Ibadan, to the accompaniment of Batá drums, of course. [more inside]
He's a computer tutor for seniors, who also seems to have a giant collection of music that's rare these days. Shortly before leaving to fight in Korea, he was kissed by Celia Cruz in 1951, among other adventures.
While the first pioneering forays into atonality and free chromaticism were starting to occur in Western European music, the talents of Latin and South America were discovering the Romantic beauty of re-interpreting the past. [much, much more inside!]
Ibrahim Ferrer has passed. The 78 year old vaulted from relative obscurity - outside of Cuba, at least - to the forefront of the badly and over-generally named "International" or "World Music" scenes when he came out of retirement to perform with a number of past colleagues (including Compay Segundo and Ruben Gonzales) as Buena Vista Social Club. A film, directed by Wim Wenders, and an album made with the help of guitarist Ry Cooder cemented his position as one of the sweetest voices in Cuba's rich musical history in the west and elsewhere. He was generally considered one of the greatest masters of the traditional son and bolero styles.
Manic Street Preachers play Havana tonight - "It'll be like Wham! in China." Following in the footsteps of agit-prop songster Billy Joel, the Boys from Blackwood take Sony-branded anti-capitalism to the last place "that really fights against the Americanisation of the world."