2016 Billboard Latin Music Conference & Awards

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Saturday, 21 February 2015, 02:32 PM

Interview with Alain Almeida

La Constelación de Cuba

Alain Almeida Manzanares

Alain Almeida Manzanares has been singing timba since he was 18 starting with Sello L.A. and later with groups such as La Charanga Forever, Michel Maza y La Bola and Roberto Armas y Los Conquistadores del La Salsa. It was with the latter orchestra that he finally settled in Lima in 2002, where he also worked with A1 Banda and Barbaro Fines y Su Mayimbe. In March 2013 Alain started his own timba band "La Constelación de Cuba" with a repertoire based on original compositions by himself and musical director and arranger Osuan Ponciano. The band will soon be finishing their first CD - "Pa' Lante y con Fe" - that they plan to release in time for their second anniversary party which will be hosted by the nightclub Makumba in Lima on March 28th. They are also in the process of filming the official video for the hit single "Hoy serás mía". We took the time to do a short interview with Alain. Click here to read the interview where he talks about how he got into music and what led him to start his own band. Dale cliq aquí para leérlo en español. Below is a video with lyrics of "Hoy serás mía" but this is not the official clip that is coming; it's just a teaser. To keep up with the band, you can follow them at the Constelación D'Cuba Facebook page

"Hoy serás mía" with lyrics

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Tuesday, 17 February 2015, 01:10 PM

La Fantasía @ Descarga

Get Your Hardcopy Now!

Los Van Van - La Fantasia

The new Van Van album "La Fantasía" is now available at Descarga.com in hardcopy. It is their best album of the past decade so you don't want to miss it! Click here to read Bill's review. It's the best way to prepare yourself for the upcoming US tour celebrating 45 years of Van Van. For more information about the tour click here.

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Monday, 16 February 2015, 02:55 PM

Complete Program Havana Rhythm & Dance Festival

MARCH 3-8

Fiesta del Tambor 2015

As promised we have uploaded the full program for the 2015 Havana Rhythm & Dance Festival. Over six days music and dance events will be held in nine venues across Havana. In addition to the percussion competition and the Casino competition, highlights include the Giants of Percussion at Teatro Mella March 4th at 8:30pm and the concerts at La Tropical on March 7th and 8th with Paulo FG y la Èlite, Pupy y Los Que Son Son, Cándido Fabré y su Orquesta, Lazarito Valdés y Bamboleo, Manolito Simonet y su Trabuco, Giraldo Piloto y Klimax,  Jose Luis Cortés y NG la Banda, Compañía Santiago Alfonso, Maykel Blanco y Salsa Mayor, and El Niño y La Verdad. Click here to check the full program or to download the program in PDF format, click here.

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Saturday, 14 February 2015, 08:17 PM

CUBAN MUSIC NEWS FEBRUARY 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

I. Mezcla Celebrates 30 Years, Releases New Album Pure Mezcla

Since Mezcla was already performing in public before the band was officially named, even its leader, Pablo Menéndez, is uncertain about which day should be considered its birthday, but 2015 is the 30th Anniversary year of one of Cuba's foremost Fusion groups, and the group is currently engaged in activities related to that milestone in Cuba. 
Oakland-born Pablo Menéndez and Cuban-made Mezcla have served as a cultural bridge between Cuba and the United States for decades.  A key moment in that history came in 1993, when 5 of the 8 band members were denied entry for a US tour by the State Department.  This galvanized activists and the musical community in the Bay Area.  The lawsuit that followed, Encuentro del Canto Popular vs. Christopher, helped set the course of the subsequent career of one of the leading attorneys in the US for assisting US-Cuba cultural exchanges, William Martinez, and it also helped cement the Bay Area's reputation as a supportive center of the music in the United States.   The show went on after a fashion in 1993 with Santana and some members of his band performing with Pablo Menéndez and Lazaro Ros in place of Pablo's full band.  Here's a clip from Yerba Buena Gardens from that time...  

In 1999, Pablo Menéndez, Bonnie Raitt & Woody Harrelson performed together at an event in the Karl Marx Theater in Havana called Music Bridges in which 40 Cuban musicians and 40 musicians from the US collaborated in a joint songwriting and performance effort.  Sadly, subsequent events in the United States a couple of years later prevented the musicians in both countries  from fully developing the opportunities presented by this project.

In more recent years, Mezcla has placed more emphasis on both Jazz and Folkloric fusion elements including a wonderful DVD made in Cuba, Todos estrellas del Jazz cubano.  Mezcla's current fans include Arturo O'Farrill and Orbert Davis among many others.  

Now, Mezcla has just released a new album, Pure Mezcla, which contains the best parts of a live concert at Yoshi's Oakland in 2013.  The album is already getting airplay across the planet (literally, from Canada to Australia) and is drawing favorable reviews in the music press. Best of all, the intial release is an exclusive download with bonus content on Latin Pulse Music. Don't wait for something to turn up on Amazon or I-Tunes - those are fine services, but the label (Tilford Productions, run by yours truly) has no plans of putting it there in the near future because we were able to load liner notes, bonus content etc. on LPM, and these things matter to us. 
Click here for the album page, which includes sample videos, audio samples and review clips. 


II. Next
Weekend:

The 7th Annual San Francisco Salsa Rueda Festival

February 19-22, 2015
Hotel Whitcomb
1231 Market Street, 
San Francisco, CA 94103. 
Ticket Info
Quite simply the best and most important festival of its kind in the United States.  Of very special interest to TIMBA.com's visitors will be the performances by Mayito Rivera (who incidentally  also blogs for us from time to time) and Timbalive and two lectures by our Editor in Chief Kevin Moore on clave and its relationship to the basic dance step. People come from considerable distances to attend this event. Here's a link to Kevin's review of last year's performance of Mayito and Timbalive at this same festival.


III:  Happy Anniversary to Septeto Santiaguero!


Septeto Santiaguero, one of Cuba's best traditional Son bands and a group that has been working with an impressive collection of guest artists in recent years, celebrated its 20th Anniversary on February 2.   Their forthcoming new recording (in May 2015) will be No Quiero Llanto - Tributo a Los Compadres, a joint project with José Alberto El Canario. You can read our review of this excellent recording here in English and aquí en español


IV.  Meanwhile, in Chicago: 

Many Chicagoans are enjoying the 14th Annual
Chicago International Salsa Congress this weekend, and on Sunday, February 15, the Pedrito Martinez Group is doing two shows (5 and 8pm) at City Winery.  We aren't positive, but we think this may be the PMG's first visit to Chicago featuring their new lineup. PMG is a regular visitor here, and the winery has named one of its selections after them. 

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