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Saturday, 02 August 2014, 07:42 AM

Remembering Juan Formell

On the Occasion of his 72nd Birthday

Juan Formell in 2008 with the Grammy for Llegó Van VanJuan Formell 2008 at home with the Grammy from Llegó...Van Van

Today marks what would have been the 72nd birthday of one of the most iconic and widely loved figures of Cuban contemporary dance music. A musical pioneer and innovator, Juan Formell enjoyed the challenge of experimentation and creation and the interplay between the dancer and the musician. This is well summed up in "A ver que sale" from the 1974 Areito release known today as Volume III: 
Eh, te voy a cantar y tú vas a bailar a ver qué sale / Eh, tú muévete que yo cantaré a ver qué sale / Pontele atención al de violín, te cantaremos hasta el fin / Y tú serás el bailarin a ver qué sale / Que si sale o si no sale la cosa de aprendizaje.

Over time Juan Formell and Los Van Van became the international symbol of the excellence of contemporary Cuban dance music. It remains to be seen how the younger generation will step up to meet the challenges that Cuban dance music faces today.

Below is the beautiful musical tribute that the Cuban musicians put together for Formell. I invite you all to post your own tribute to Formell in the comments. Felicidades Maestro y que pases tu cumpleaños de fiesta con Arsenio, El Beny y todos los grandes.

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Friday, 01 August 2014, 04:25 PM

Bay Area: This Time For Sure

Havana d'Primera at Yoshi's SF Tonight & Tomorrow

San José Jazz's Epic 2014 Lineup


It's been a historically disappointing summer, full of last minute cancellations and crushed expectations, but we can now confirm that (although the opening Miami and LA shows were canceled due to system-wide visa bugs that, for once, have nothing to do with Cuba) Havana d'Primera is now in the Yuma and ready to roll for Yoshi's SF TONIGHT and Saturday, Minneapolis on Aug. 7th, Chicago on Aug. 8th and at B.B. King's in NYC on August 12th. More details as they come in, but tonight is definitely on - see you there!

Meanwhile, The 2014 San José Jazz Festival (Aug. 8, 9, 10) will be one for the ages and there are no visas involved (phew...) , except for Conjunto Chappottín, who are (I'm 99% sure) already in the country and will also be playing a dance show at Kuumbwa Jazz Center on Aug. 7th. Chappottín has gotten rave reviews on the East Coast. And the REST of the SJ Jazz lineup is just unbelievable - Pedrito Martínez Group, Calixto Oviedo, Fort Apache, Jimmy Bosch, Viento de Agua (hot plena), Donald Harrison, QBA, Pacific Mambo, Pasión Habanera, Orquesta Borinquen, Avance, Wayne Wallace - on and on - and many, including Pedrito Martínez, play more than once. [Kevin Moore, all photos by Tom Ehrlich]

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Thursday, 31 July 2014, 08:15 AM

Maykel Blanco & Maykel Fonts @Latinoamericando


Maykel Blanco has just uploaded a beautiful video from the concert at the Latinoamericando Expo in Milan. It is "Bembé" from the CD "A toda máquina", with Yordys Larrazabal on lead and Maykel Fonts dancing. The song ends at 5 minutes during a drum solo by Alain Miguel Reboredo, but you get a feel for the quality of the performance and the professionalism of the festival, which is now in its 24th year. Enjoy!


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Wednesday, 30 July 2014, 09:37 AM


Bun Bun Mezcla'o Viene Lento y Aplastando

So I was having a conversation at Facebook with timba DJs Melao and Jack El Calvo about the exciting Lima-based band Bun Bun Mezcla'o when they pointed out that we don't have anything about the band here at I currently have three other groups to finish before I can get started on their section, but we can always begin with a little introduction to the band here in Primera Plana.

Bun Bun Mezcla'oPhoto courtesy of Bun Bun Mezcla'o Facebook page

Bun Bun Mezcla'o is one of Lima's youngest orchestras having been formed in 2013 under the direction of Leo Herrera Lugo. Leo studied percussion at Alejandro García Caturla and worked with a number of bands in Lima before ending up as keyboardist and musical director in the group of the late Rafael Labarrera.

Bun Bun Mezcla'o began recording their debut CD "Así soy yo" within months of their formation. The album has not yet been released, but you can find singles at YouTube. Compositions are by Leo and singer Caridad Plaza, while the arrangements are by Leo and pianist Susana Alberte. Both Caridad and Susana came to Lima with the group Son Ladies. We will be updating with a section for Bun Bun Mezcla'o as soon as time permits.

Without more ado I will let the music speak for itself: "Silence Please!" originally performed by Rafael Labarrera and now recorded for the album "Así soy yo" by Bun Bun Mezcla'o. 

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