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Friday, 03 April 2015, 08:21 PM

Paulito in Miami - December, 1998

The audio and video quality is not quite ready for IMAX, but this is a truly historic document - the final concert of the final tour of one of the greatest bands ever assembled. After this December 1998 show at Café Cristal in Miami, conguero Tomasito Cruz and future Tiempo Libre vocalist El Kid Díaz left the group to stay in Miami, and after returning to Havana, bassist Joel Domínguez, drummer Yoel Páez and pianist Yaniel "El Majá" Matos left to join the 1999 incarnation of Issac Delgado's band (the band that played the Y2K Concert posted a few months back). The rest of the band includes El Bola Betancourt on trumpet, Carlos Pérez on trombone Juan Ceruto on sax and arrangements. and of course three future members of Havana d'Primera: Alexander Abreu, Rogelio Nápoles and Yosvel Bernal. When we discuss HdP's "resumen de los 90" mission statement - rekindling the brilliance of the timba era - there's no doubt that the PFG 98 band was their overarching inspiration. You can hear all three of these guys solo on Estamos en escena (use the hyperlinks in the video description for quick navigation).

What sets this band aside from all others is their unique approach to timba gears - Paulito quite literally "calls" each gear change with a sophisticated set of hand signals - explained in this youtube:

In 1997, when the classic album Con la conciencia tranquila was recorded (the source for most of the songs from this show), the rhythm section was the same except for Sergio Noroña on piano, but at that point they had two main timba gears - presión and bomba. In 1998 they added a third "masacote"-style timba gear dubbed (at least by Tomasito) "songo con efectos". They played this more and more over the course of 1998 and you can hear plenty of it in the Noche de Cristal audio concert posted a few months ago. That was about 3 months before this show - the last stop on the historic 1998 US tour. I will soon post another video from a few days before this one - at SOBs - it doesn't have complete songs but does have vastly superior video quality. This beauty of this particular video is that most of the songs are complete and there's very little fancy camera work so you can see Paulito and most of the rhythm section all of the time and you can watch as Paulito dishes out his hand signals and the band responds brilliantly. There's also a long version of Estamos en escena in which almost everyone gets a solo. Last but not least is the never-recorded masterpiece, Laura, and the original version of La última bala, later recorded as Una vez más on the 2000 album of the same name.

This is the same band that played this concert in Havana a few months earlier: 

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Thursday, 02 April 2015, 02:34 AM

New Live Videos In Honor of

International Timba Month

... another of the greatest timba concerts ever preserved: Issac Delgado at Casa Cultura on Valentine's Day, 1997, featuring Melón Lewis, Alain Pérez, Daria Delgado, Georvis Pico, Joaquín Betancourt, Andrés Cuayo and many more. Some of the individual songs have been on youtube for a while but now we have the full concert in very high quality - dubbed directly from Mike Croy's original digital camera tape. 

Coming later this week are two epic Paulito FG concerts, including the final show before his stupendously great 1998 band broke up. If you want to get in the mood for this, here's a youtube segment that will teach you how to spot Paulito's inimitable hand signal method for changing gears spontaneously.

PFG is truly the Steph Curry of timba. And these concerts have never been on youtube in any form. Entonces ... prepárense!

Also, in case you missed it, we've also recently added the Charanga Habanera Suspension Concert Restoration Project. The idea here is to find all the various audio and video files of this historic 1997 concert and put everything in order with the best quality media in each case. The cool thing here is that the concert went on after the censors pulled the plug, so we have audio of several additional songs, including two great ones that Charanga Habanera never recorded in the studio. If you're not up to speed on the infamous suspension you can catch up on your charanga chisme here and here.

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Wednesday, 01 April 2015, 12:07 PM

International Timba Month 2015

Many reasons to celebrate

Sobran razones pa' celebrar

NG La Banda

Yes timber@s, once again it's time to celebrate the birth of our favorite music, which we have not-so-randomly placed in the month in which coincides with the founding of NG La Banda. As we gather again to congratulate ourselves on our excellent taste, let me point out that despite fears that timba is dying, the new generation if timberos has already given us two excellent new albums in 2015: "La Vuelta al Mundo" by Alexander Abreu & Havana D'Primera and Maykel Blanco y Su Salsa Mayor's live CD/DVD "Cerrando Filas" recorded at their 10th anniversary concert last year. Other indications of the health of the genre are the excellent 2014 debut album "Llegó La Verdad" by Emilio Frías "El Niño" y La Verdad - who will celebrate their anniversary on June 28th with guest José Alberto "El Canario" at La Tropical - and the young group Yadiel Bolaño y La Tabla who have just released their first CD, which is being highly praised by DJs.

And the established bands continue doing brilliant work. Los Van Van's "La Fantasía" released earlier this year is undoubtedly one of their best. And we hear more about the upcoming release by Elito Revé y Su Charangón - "La Salsa Tiene Mi Son" - an album with remakes of some of the Charangóns biggest hits from the 90s featuring national and international stars. We've been waiting for this one for a long time. It was recorded at Abdala studios under the musical direction of Aisar Hernández and direction of Elito Revé. It will distributed nationally by Bis Music and internationally by Sony. No, I still don't have the actual release date but let's hope it's this spring. In the video below Elito talks about the new album.

Also just in time for International Timba Month Kevin has released his "Restoration Project" Suspension Concert video (below). He has combined the best available audio with the best available video (VHS recording from television) to create the complete concert from start to finish. Because the television transmission was cut off during "Usa condón", the final part contains only the audio, but it's worth listening to. It brings home the passion and locura of the late 90s in Havana. So timber@s - enjoty the month of April as spring returns and we count the reasons we have to be thankful for having enriched our lives with Cuban music.

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Friday, 27 March 2015, 09:55 AM

HAVANA D'PRIMERA - LA VUELTA AL MUNDO

NOW @ CD BABY!

Havana D'Primera - La Vuelta al Mundo Cover

I can say this with confidence and without having listened to a single track yet - one of the biggest timba releases of 2015 has just come out! Alexander Abreu & Havana D'Primera "La Vuelta al Mundo" is now available at CD Baby in MP3, MP3-320 and FLAC (lossless) format! I have downloaded mine already! Havana D'Primera is one of very few groups whose albums I will buy without having to listen first. But as soon as I have had a chance I will be back with preliminary thoughts! Go get your copy now! Click here to listen or to download.

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