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Beyond Salsa Piano - Instructional Series

Pa' Ponerte en Talla

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Sunday, 06 November 2011, 01:11 AM

LA COLMENITA - Cuban Youth Theater Group

Review & Photo Gallery by Tom Ehrlich

reporting from San Francisco - view the full story & gallery here 
** Notice to the politically paranoid - this article contains this author's honest attempt
 at accurately reporting the background information and context for the story of the theater performance, any
 political biases or interpretations are your own. **

La Colmenita, a group of extremely talented actors/musicians (ages 5 to 15 years old) from Cuba performed in New York City, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco Bay Area.  I was fortunate to catch their last show in San Francisco.  La Colmenita is a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador.  Unicef is a branch of the United Nations which specializes in issues related to children.  While in New York, La Colmenita presented a special performance at the United Nations.

During their U.S. tour, they performed various plays which included Abracadabra, which was presented the night I attended.   Abracadabra is described as introducing Americans to the Cuban youth perspective on everything from the Beatles and well-loved fairy tales to the plight of the Cuban Five, a group of men who sacrificed their lives to protect the Cuban people from terrorism.  

The play is short skits which show interactions in classrooms between teachers and students, blending in musical interludes with the young actors singing, dancing and playing all instruments. The music was salsa and timba (mostly Adalberto Alvarez and Los Van Van songs).  These kids smoked (meaning they played at an extremely high and impressive level),  especially a young female drum set player who is ready to replace Samuel Formell any day now.   The show was a class act in every way - the acting and performing were top notch and the writing of the play and how it was put together were superb.

Abracadabra a sympathic protrayal of the Cuban 5.  In case you have not heard, the Cuban 5 are five Cubans who came to the United States and inflitrated some of the anti-Castro organizations in the Untied States which were planning and carrying out actions against Cuba, including attacks and bombings in an effort to topple the Cuban government.  

The Cuban 5's mission was to monitor these the full story here. 

One of the youngest actors in La Colmenita is the grandson of the great Cuban band leader and composer, Adalberto Álvarez. What follows are some photos I took at the joy filled and emotional performance.

Back stage before performance - Kevin Lázaro Pérez Álvarez - grandson of Adalberto Álvarez

This young lady had some mean timba licks.

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Wednesday, 02 November 2011, 01:53 AM

A Timba Lover's Dream - Festival Cuba All Stars

December 17nth - Lima, Perú - San Marcos Stadium

Insane lineup heads to Lima for an all-out Timba spectacle

Oprima aquí para leér este artículo en español - We Love Timba de Feri Dj - Perú Report 

Pinch me I'm dreaming....our Perú connect Feri DJ reports on an upcoming concert event of historical proportions. For this great collaboration to happen, the Cuban music agencies held a meeting in Lima with local promoters discussing a hold on all timba tours -- a vision led by Juan Formell of Los Van Van. The lineup is so loaded that a really concentrated effort was needed to assure participation from all the band leaders. Are you READY FOR THIS....

The concert counts with the participation of up to 40 artists of top calibre, among them...

  • Juan Formell y Los Van Van (most of the band is coming)
  • Adalberto Álvarez, "El Caballero del Son", and his daughter Dorgeris (pianist)
  • drummer Giraldo Piloto, leader of Klimax 
  • Alexander Abreu (trumpet) director of Havana d' Primera
  • Maykel Blanco, director of Salsa Mayor.
  • singer Leo Vera  ex-Irakere & ex-Charanga Habanera, "Hombre casado" & "Mi estrella" 
  • singer Emilio Frías, "El Niño",  from Orquesta Revé
  • Lázaro Valdés,  pianist & director of Bamboleo
  • José Luis Cortés “El Tosco"  (flute) director of NG la Banda
  • singer of NG fame, Tony Calá 
  • ex-Bamboleo singer Tania Pantoja
  • among others...Can You Believe It!!

Here's the first official video of the event:

For tickets contact - Teleticket de Wong y Metro ( )
Facebook page =

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Tuesday, 01 November 2011, 06:17 AM

Cuban Music News - In Brief - November 1, 2011

Haila in NYC - Mayito & Mandy - Manolito - MB Tour

Haila (ex-Bamboleo) has a new album and she will be performing this Friday at S.O.B.s in New York City. Bassist Danny Rojo of PornoSon fame will be directing a group of local heavyweights (anyone have the complete list?).   

Haila NYC 2011 - Cuban Music News

The official Los Van Van website is down = = but after months of rumors that lead singer Mario "Mayito" Rivera left the iconic band (a press release was made on the Los Van Van website), no one has yet to report that they have seen them perform with the alleged new replacement Armando "Mandy" Cantero (formerly of Pupy y los que Son Son among others). Los Van Van performed in Mexico recently without Mayito but Mandy was not present, even though it was reported he was in Mexico at the time.  In related news Mayito has been singing with Monika (Mesa) y la Máquina Perfecta.  

Manolito y su Trabuco are in Hamburg, Germany today then covering Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Serbia and the Netherlands. Cuban music is truly international. Check out the tour page for all the official dates. 

Maykel Blanco's recent, independently produced US tour was well received and attended. The band was really TIGHT and executed consistently with tremendous energy. I really missed their recent hit "Un Kilo" which was not featured in any of the shows. I saw them in 2007 and this is by far the best group configuration, rhythm and horn sections. The pedal and bomba gears were in full, hard-hitting force. The singers delivered pure fun. Hoping they will be back next year for sure. Rumor has it Miami has 2 new singers and one smoking keyboard player. 

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Friday, 21 October 2011, 02:11 AM

Dream Team puts timba in the 1st round of the 54th Grammy Awards

Proyecto de estrellas pone la timba en la 1era planilla de los Grammys

Havana Heavy Hitters - Vestido De Blanco

English: Hoping to capitalize on the recent influx of Cuban bands performing in the U.S., the album Vestido de blanco by the Havana Heavy Hitters has made it to the first round ballot of the 54th Grammy Awards under Best Tropical Latin Album. Havana Heavy Hitters is a special musical project produced by drummer Michael Gerald and brothers Yosvel & Edduar Bernal Pina (Yosvel was the keyboardist and musical co-director for Paulito F.G. for almost a decade). Havana Heavy Hitters includes a truly all-star cast of some of the top and most world-renowned Cuban singers and instrumentalists of the contemporary tropical dance style (timba). It features members of Habana D' Primera (Alexander Abreu), Los Van Van (Hugo Morejón), Irakere (Michael Antes), Charanga Habanera (Michel Maza & Osmani Collado), Bamboleo (Rafael Paceiro), Klimax (Papiosco Torres), and Issac Delgado & Paulito F.G. (Roberto Cucurucho Rodríguez) among others. You can find full roster and album credits here

As you all know, Timba is completely under the radar as far as terrestrial US radio goes so your support is crucial to the movement. We would love it if all the fans could reach out to their Recording Academy member friends and ask them for their consideration. If you are not a member of the Grammys and don't know anyone who is just check it out to hear what all the buzz is about. The collective hope is that this helps build the momentum to get Alexander Abreu and Habana D'Primera and other Cuban artists their first tour of the US.

Vestido De Blanco by Havana Heavy Hitters - Cuban music - Best Tropical Latin - 54th Grammy Awards

Español: Con la esperanza de sacarle provecho al surgimiento de los conciertos de grupos musicales cubanos aquí en los EE.UU., el álbum Vestido de blanco de los Havana Heavy Hitters ha llegado a la primera ronda y papeleta de votación de los 54tos Premios Grammy bajo la categoría "Best Tropical Latin Album" (Mejor Disco Tropical Latino). Havana Heavy Hitters es un proyecto especial producido por hermanos Yosvel & Edduar Bernal Pina (fue el tecladista y co-director musical de Paulito FG por un tiempo) y el baterista Michael Gerald. La grabación incluye un reparto verdaderamente estelar de algunos de los mejores, y más conocidos mundialmente,

cantantes e instrumentistas cubanos del estilo bailable contemporaneo (timba). Cuenta con miembros de Habana D' Primera (Alexander Abreu), Los Van Van (Hugo Morejón), Irakere (Michael Antes), Charanga Habanera (Michel Maza & Osamni Collado), Bamboleo (Rafael Paceiro), Klimax (Papiosco Torres), and Issac Delgado & Paulito F.G. (Roberto Cucurucho Rodríguez) entre otros. Oprima aquí para la lista completa de participantes y créditos.

Como todos ustedes saben, la Timba como género está completamente bajo el radar de los medios emitivos de radio terrestre en los EE.UU., por lo tanto tu apoyo es crucial para el movimiento. Nos encantaría que todos los seguidores del género puedan hacerles llegar esta noticia sus amigos (y amigas) miembros de la Academia de Grabación y pedirles que por favor consideren este álbum para la nominación. Si no eres miembro de los Grammys y no conoces a nadie que sea sólo échale una oída al álbum para que sepas de qué se trata toda la buya. La esperanza colectiva es que esto ayude a crear el impulso para conseguir que Alexander Abreu and Habana D Primera y otros artistas cubanos puedan llegar de primera gira acá a los EE.UU.

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