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FRONT PAGE - PRIMERA PLANA

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Sunday, 02 February 2014, 07:24 AM

El Niño y La Verdad

Dime cuanto

Emilio Frias El Niño y La VerdadEl Niño y La Verdad pack the house with their matinee at Casa de La Música Miramar

In March 2013 Emilio Frias "El Niño" and Wilfredo Naranjo "Pachy" decided it was time to leave Orquesta Revé, Cuba's greatest music school, and create their own orchestra. Joining them was Roberto "Chino" Vázquez, formerly bassist for El Trabuco, and shortly thereafter Pascual Matos "Sinsonte" of La Revé. We all know what a tough crowd the timberos of Havana are, but Emilio's popularity as a singer and the strength of the band's repertoire have made them an overnight success. Their Friday matinee at Casa de la Música Miramar is always well-attended and the atmosphere is great! Advice: If you are going to Havana, make sure to catch them at the Friday matinee!

I went to see them on January 17th and the show surpassed expectations. To keep the tourists happy Miramar has become nothing more than a sea of tables with no space left for a dance floor. But everyone was on their feet dancing anyway, as you can see in the picture above, from El Niño's Facebook page. They were filming for a promotional DVD that day. I'm looking forward to seeing the results! There were several guest artist in attendance. Juan Guillermo took a turn on stage with Emilio, and Arlenys ( El Niño's mujer) sang one of her own songs much to the delight of the audience. El Niño and Arlenys are definitely a power couple in Havana. 

Towards the close of the show, Oderquis Revé took the stage but even as he was singing "estás loco" the CDLM was struck by an apagón. Apparently power outages continue to be a problem for Habaneros. We adjourned to the bar in the garden, and I spent some time talking with Pachy and Sinsonte. 

In 2013 El Niño y La Verdad released a five-song demo, which has been very popular among DJs and dancers around the world. Fans will be happy to know that the band went back into the studio on January 24th to begin work on their album! Currently they are promoting the 5th single from the demo "Dime Cuanto". You can check it out in the Timba.com radio below. Alaroye no, alaroye y bien!

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Tuesday, 28 January 2014, 06:40 PM

Motivos Martianos

Tribute for the 161st Anniversary of José Martí's Birth

Cartelera Motivos Martianos

Today is the 161st anniversary of the birth of José Martí. Cubans around the world have been honoring this great father of the Cuban nation in various ways. Exactly one week ago I had the good fortune to attend one of the first celebrations, which took place at Teatro Mella. The event was called "Motivos Martianos" and was put on by the José Martí Cultural Society under the Artistic and General Direction of Israel Rojas. Rojas is also the organizer behind the upcoming Martí tribute album where each number is either inspired by Martí or in some cases the song lyrics are based on Martís poetry.

The event was sold out, and as you can see by the poster above, it featured a cast of stars from various musical genres and even a childrens' acting company. From a timbero's perspective some of the highlights were Clave y Guaguancó and of course Los Van Van, who closed the event with the song "Dicha Grande". Other performances that particularly struck me were the accoustic offerings of trovadores Eduardo Sosa, Leonardo Garcia and Polito Ibañez. Buena Fe guitarrist Dairon Lobaina and singer Javier Milanes performed a beautiful ballad dedicated to mothers and D'CoraSon will have another hit on their hands with the piece they have written for the Martí album.

Click here for more on the concert, including an interview with Israel Rojas and video of Buena Fe and Los Van Van.

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Tuesday, 28 January 2014, 10:19 AM

Me Dicen Cuba Official Video

Alexander Abreu Shares His Cuba with the World

For months DJs and fans have been uploading videos of Alexander Abreu & Havana D'Primera performing their 2013 hit "Me Dicen Cuba", only to be forced to remove them. Finally the official video is up and it will hopefully be there to stay!

What can I say about this song? It is another brilliant Alexander Abreu lyric and in my opinion "Me Dicen Cuba" is the new timba anthem for Cuba. The video is a montage of everday scenes of everyday Cubans. It is the product of collaboration between EGREM , the José Martí Cultural Center and the ICAIC. I will be surprised if some tour agency doesn't pick this up as part of an ad campaign! Enjoy!

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Tuesday, 28 January 2014, 04:32 AM

Afro-Cuban Grammy Gold - 2014 Awards Update

Pacific Mambo Orchestra - Paquito D'Rivera - Clare Fischer

Pacific Mambo Orchestra wins 2014 Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album

First thing to say about the Grammy Award Show is that experiencing the event live is very different than watching it on TV. This year things really got started when Robin Thicke joined classic rock band Chicago for some powerful showmanship and HORNS! Real live music finally brought a sense of satisfaction. The sound quality was really good, pleasant yet powerful without being harsh. What you would expect from the music industry's top show. They got that right. 

On the Cuban music front... members of the San Francisco based, 19-piece Latin big band the PACIFIC MAMBO ORCHESTRA are still pinching themselves after defeating Salsa icons Marc Anthony and Sergio George - as well as Colombian pop star Carlos Vives - by taking the 2014 Best Tropical Latin Album Award. It was an honor for these independents to be included, but after this win there will be plenty of head scratching over at Sony Music Latin and Sergio's camp. You can read a review of their well-crafted, self-titled debut release here. For many then, the PMO pulled off something truly unique and special. The Mambo is back for real with their full, rich sound and clever arrangements. It seems they couldn't set the bar any higher for themselves. It will interesting to see how the Pacific Mambo Orchestra follows this up.

Pacific Mambo Orchestra wins 2014 Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin AlbumIn related news, La Santa Cecilia, a Los Angeles based rock / alternative band that mixes boleros, cumbia, bossa nova and Cuban music won for Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album. LSC is signed to Universal Music Latino. Their winning album is called "Treinta Días" (30 Days). 

The independent, Brazilian music release "Song For Maura" from Trio Corrente (piano - bass - drums) and Cuban clarinetist / saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera won for Best Latin Jazz Album. 

Pacific Mambo Orchestra wins 2014 Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album

Also worth mentioning is the Clavo Records release "Pensamientos for Solo Alto Saxophone and Chamber Orchestra", which won for Best Instrumental Composition (the late Clare Fischer composer, Clare Fischer Orchestra performing).  Clare Fischer composed the famous Latin Jazz standard "Morning". Clare's son claimed the award and in his moving speech mentioned that signing an acceptance for a Grammy Award was the last document his father ever signed. 

Here are some selected PMO photos from the Nominee celebration, Grammy pre-telecast & telecast. 

Pacific Mambo Orchestra wins 2014 Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album

Pacific Mambo Orchestra wins 2014 Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album

Pacific Mambo Orchestra wins 2014 Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album

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