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Saturday, 08 March 2014, 04:41 PM

For Pastora Yuani Sayú

On International Women's Day

Pastora Yuani SayúsMarch 8 is International Women's Day and while it may not be well-known everywhere, it is very important both here in Sweden and in Cuba. As I sat here contemplating the many talented women who have helped shape Cuban music, it struck me that today I would like to honor one of the most internationally famous women in both salsa and timba: Pastora Yuani Sayú, better known to Latin music fans as Pastorita. Sadly, she passed away in 2013 at the age of 97, but her name has been imortalized and can probably be heard every week in some salsa venue around the world.

I want to thank Niurka Estrada, Mirlania Rodriguez and José Cuenca for the photo pf Pastora and for sharing with me the story about the origins of the song and the subsequent battle over the rights to the song which was resolved in June of 1976. But we'll get to that part of the story later.

Pastora Yuani Sayú

"El Guararey de Pastora" has been a hit many times over. First performed by Changüí Guantánamo, it caught the attention of Juan Formell during a visit to Cuba's easternmost province and was recorded by Van Van in 1974. The song became a hit in Cuba and in 1975 Ray Barretto recorded a salsa version, which also became a huge success in the salsa world outside of Cuba.

So what is the story behind the song that has had seemingly universal appeal? Well let me tell you. Pastora had a daughter who had caught the eye of Roberto Baute Sagarra, tresero of Changüí Guantánamo. He began a romance with her and Pastora was not happy with his attentions towards her daughter because Roberto, also known as Chito, was already married and 20 years older than the object of his affection. This was the source of Pastora's guararey (anger) with her friend Chito and the inspiration for the song.

At the time the song was written, Pedro Speck was the director of Changüí Guantánamo and he registered the rights to the song under his name. It wasn't until the popularity of Van Van's version that the subject of authorship  became an issue. In June 1976 the court ruled in favor of Roberto Baute when Pastorita herself testified on his behalf. Previously attributed to Speck or simply listed as DR, the song is now correctly attributed to Roberto Baute, although it was not officially registered with ACDAM under his name until 21 April 1981. However, I was told in Guantanamo that neither Speck nor Baute ever received any income from the recording or performances of other versions of the song.

Roberto Baute SagarraPhoto of Roberto Baute Sagarra in Casa del Changüí in Guantanamo

Below is a video of the group Suave Caribe performing "El Guararey de Pastora"  on January 9, 2014 at the Thursday night peña in Guantanamo. If you are able I highly recommend attending the National Changüí Festival, which will take place this year from May 29-June 1. It is a unique opportunity to really come face-to-face with the roots of the music and dance we know today as salsa and timba. For more information about the changüí festival contact General Coordinator José Cuenca or Ernesto Chacón.

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Saturday, 08 March 2014, 02:49 PM

Calixto Oviedo Quintet

24 April Mambos Café

Calixto Oviedo Quintet

The summer tour season will be kicking off soon and we are in the process of updating our tours section as the tour dates get finalized. We have already updated Calixto Oviedo's section with concert dates for the spring and early summer. He will be performing jazz with Calixto's Way Band and dance music with Lily d Oviedo Orquesta as well as going Masters Classes and performing with bands such as the Afro-Cuban Jazz Project. Click here for the full list of concerts as of this moment. 

Calixto has also put together a quintet featuring Josiel Pérez on trumpet, Natanael Molina on piano, Yosmel Montejo on bass, Christian Moraga on congas and percussion, and of course Calixto Oviedo on drums. The Calixto Oviedo Quintet plays a mix of Latin Jazz, Timba and Soul. They will be performing at Mambos Café 1701 Victory Blvd. in Glendale, California on April 24th.

Stay tuned for more tour updates for Azúcar Negra, Maykel Blanco y su Salsa Mayor, Los Van Van, Havana D'Primera, Oderquis Revé y su Changüí, Elito Revé y Su Charangón, Mayito Rivera & Sons of Cuba and more...

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Sunday, 02 March 2014, 02:49 PM

The Celebration Begins: 50 Years of EGREM

La celebración comienza: 50 años de EGREM

  Graphic courtesy EGREM

ENGLISH:  March 31, 2014 marks the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of EGREM, the home of the record label that first brought us Timba and many other forms of modern Cuban music. EGREM began the festivities on February 28th with a press conference to announce its plans for the occasion.   A photo gallery from the conference is available here
With the assistance of several individuals at EGREM, Bill Tilford has established a special section for EGREM and its activities, which is availaible here
All who love modern Cuban music have much to celebrate. 

31 de marzo 2014 marca el 50 º aniversario del establecimiento de la EGREM, la casa discográfica que nos traía la TImba y muchas otras formas de la música cubana moderna. EGREM comenzó los festejos del 28 de febrero con una conferencia de prensa para anunciar sus planes para la ocasión.  Una galería de fotos de la conferencia está disponible aquí.
Con la ayuda de varias personas de la EGREM, Bill Tilford ha establecido una sección especial sobre la EGREM y sus actividades, que está disponible aquí. 
Todos que aman la música cubana moderna tienen mucho que celebrar. 

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Sunday, 02 March 2014, 02:32 PM

7th National Changüí Festival

The Magic of the Authentic

Changüí dancers in Guantanamo

Announcement of the 7th National Changüí Festival

If Cuba is a global reserve of music, then Guantanamo is one of the reservoirs of Cuban music. In this region you can find almost all genres on the island and some that are unique to Upper Eastern Cuba: changüí, nengón, kiribá ... primal musical forms that are only found in Guantanamo and that remain as alive as the first day.

To know and enjoy Cuban music, Guantanamo is a compulsory stop . If you arrive there you will experience the pleasure of feeling the magic of the authentic. - José Cuenca Sosa

The 7th National Changüí Festival "Elio Revé Matos" will take place in Guantanamo from May 29 - June 1, 2014. The event includes music and dance shows of changüí as well as other music and dance styles unique to the province of Guantanamo such as nengón, kiribá and tumba francesa. In addition there are concerts by timba bands such as Orquesta Revé, although note that at this point I have seen no list of participating timba bands for 2014. The festival features contests between treseros, bongoceros, marimbuleros, dancers and singers as well as a more scholarly segment of conferences. This year the topic is "Origins, Parallels and Projections of Changüí". Events will be held throught the city and in changüí areas such as Casa de Pipi in Yateras. The fee to sign up is 50 CUC for foreigners and 50  CUP for Cubans. To participate or for more information, contact General Coordinator José Cuenca or Ernesto Chacón.

Below is a video I put together where Cuenca tells us about the plans for this year's festival and I threw in a little changüí footage from Guantanamo and from a changüí party at Casa de Pipi in Yateras from the 2007 festival.

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