Trayecto - (Ahí Nama) Released 2014
This 2015 Cubadisco nominee (Música Popular Bailable, Novedades) has not been officially released yet, but it is musically quite good.
|CD||Ivan Acosta y su Grupo De Cuba Somos||
A not-yet-released recording by one of Santiago de Cuba's best Jazz bands. Ivan Acosta's Grupo de Cuba Somos is one of the mainstays of the small but vibrant Jazz scene in Santiago. Review includes photos and links to an interview.
|CD||Alfredo De La Fe||
Sin Limites - (No Borders Entertainment) Released 2013.04.29
Alfredo de la Fe's new collaborative release with Rodry-Go mixes Charanga with multiple other styles and manages for the most part to do so successfully.
Piano & Rhythm
Highly accomplished and acclaimed pianist Michael Eckroth offers up his most recent recording as a leader entitled Piano & Rhythm. Both a "nod to the piano masters of the past as well as a showcase for Eckroth’s own identity as a composer", this is an exquisitely recorded and performed album from top to bottom.
|CD||Chuchito Valdés & Eddy Navia||
Carnaval En Piano Charango - (Sukay/Pachamama) Released 2013.05.27
This is an innovative blending of Chuchito's Afro-Cuban and Jazz background with Eddy Navia's background in Andean folkloric music. The strongest ingredients in the mix are Andean, but the Cuban influences are unmistakable, and the final result is beautiful.
|CD||Elito Revé y su Charangón||
La Aplanadora de Cuba - (Bis Music) Released 2014
Another exciting Changüi released by Revé. An aplanadora is a steamroller, and this is one, in a good way, for good dancers. Drink plenty of fluids before starting to listen to this.
Concierto de Frank Emilio -(EGREM)-
This excellent 1978 live concert was nominated for a Cubadisco in 2014 in the Música de archivo category. Part of EGREM's Cuba En Vivo series
Te doy una canción - (Colibrí) - Released 2013
This 3-CD set, which includes a short video documentary in one CD, is a Special Prize winner in Cubadisco 2014 and is a collection of Silvio Rodríguez compositions interpreted in various instrumental settings by Augusto Enríquez. More musically diverse than this writer was expecting when he first opened the package, and put together quite well.
|CD/DVD||Estado de ánimo||
Estado de ánimo - (Cinquillo/Colibrí) Released 2014
This is like finding buried treasure - the best of an extraordinary Jazz/Fusion concert from the 1990s comes back to life. If you live outside of Cuba, you may not know about Estado de ánimo, but its members - Ruy López-Nussa, Roberto Carcassés, Elmer Ferrer and Descemer Bueno - made some of the best Cuban music of the decade together. Nominated for Cubadisco 2015 awards in Jazz and Musical Documentary.
Claroscuro - (Cinquillo/Colibri) Released 2012
This 2013 Cubadisco winner in the Ópera Prima category (similar to Best New Artist in other countries) combines a variety of influences from Cuban music, Jazz and Funk. It's a Cuban Jazz album, but there are some Funk moments that will knock your socks off too.
Cuba Now Danzón - (Colibrí) 2015
Cuba Now Danzon updates the Danzon with some modern touches, innovative arrangements (especially with brass) and a first-tier cast of musicians. It won Cubadisco 2015 awards for Instrumental Music and Recording (a technical category)
|CD||Pedro Luis Ferrer||
Final (Escondida Music) Released 2014.03.25
Final almost certainly is not Pedro Luis Ferrer's final album, but it is a great album to put on during a quiet weekend morning with a loved one.
Musae - (Dafnison Music) Released 2012.09.04
Roman Filiu is part of the colony of cutting-edge Cuban Jazz artists who settled in New York. This straight-ahead Jazz project won the prize for Jazz in Cubadisco 2013.
Yo - (Jazz Village) Released 2012
This recording won the Cubadisco 2013 awards for Fusion and Recording (an engineering award), and it contains a potent mix of multiple genres.
|CD||Alberto Lescay & FORMAS||
Escape (EGREM 2018) Released June 1, 2018
ENGLISH: Escape is the debut album of Alberto Lescay & FORMAS, a group that represents the best of the best of the NuJazz movement in Cuba. If you have been worried about the future of music in Cuba, this album is an instant cure.
Se llama sabroso (Ocho Music Group) 2021.03.07
ENGLISH: In a guest review by Mildred Gloria Aguilar Díaz written for Radio Cadena Habana and republished here, a look at a style called Changüi con flow by Zona Franka. A tasty mixture of traditional and urban Cuban music.
|07/25/2021||Mildred Gloria Aguilar Diáz|
Parafrasear - (EGREM) Released 2014
Parafrasear by Frasis is a mostly-instrumental album of Cuban popular music by a Fusion group in Cuba centered about a string quartet and a rhythm section. Before you scoff, consider that in Finland, Apocalyptica is performing some very entertaining Heavy Metal with cellos. It works if you know what you're doing, and Frasis does.
Planeta Planetario - (EGREM) Released 2014
Planeta Planetario features Diana Fuentes, an excellent vocalist, in a few different Pop music styles. It should be noted that the term "Pop" (as opposed to Nueva Trova) applies to music more or less similar to the rest of the world's use of the term.
ENGLISH: El Viaje is Zule Guerra's first in-studio album, her previous releases being recordings of live performances. All of the compositions are hers, and with a stellar lineup of JoJazz winners plus Ernán López-Nussa's deft touch as producer, this is a thing of beauty.
|CD||César López & Habana Ensemble||
Sonajero - (EGREM) released 2015
This new album by César López & Habana Ensemble is one of their best yet, and César, an alumnus of a later edition of Irakere, is putting out work that deserves a similar level of attention.
|DVD||Ernesto Vega & Harold López-Nussa||
Dúo- (Colibrí) Released 2014
Dúo is a wonderful live performance film of a concert in 2012 by Ernesto Vega and Harold López-Nussa. The music and the productions values were both superb, and it is a special accomplishment to perform this well as a Jazz duet. Great chemistry here. Dúo was nominated for Cubadisco 2015 awards for Audiovisual Concert and Live Recording.
Pasaporte - (Colibri) Released 2012
Winner of the Cubadisco award for Popular Dance Music in 2013, Pasaporte is Timba (or Cuban Salsa if you prefer) at its very best.
Havana d'Primera at Logan Square Auditorium
This is a great band, and it should have been a great show, but the apparent indifference to production values on the part of the presenter led to an epic battle between the band and a hostile acoustic setting and sound system. The band fought bravely to the very end, but only moments of clear music emerged from the muddled audio, and were it not for the fact that the audience was composed almost completely of hard core fans who were happy to even see their faces, the evening could easily have been a disaster.
|CD||Alexander Abreu Havana D'Primera||
La vuelta al mundo (Pafata/Sello Unicornio) - Released 2015
HDP goes after new listeners here - there is still some Timba, but also a lot more Salsa Cubana that will be danceable by non-Cubans. Musically excellent, and it has a Grand Prize in Cubadisco along with the award for Música Popular Bailable - Maestros to show for it. Will it reach the new ears for which it is intended? Time will tell.
HdP @Kraken - Stockholm
The band played impeccably reminding me what an awe-inspiring experience it is to see one of Cuba's greatest bands live.
ENGLISH: The Arango Family has been a giant force in Rumba, Cuban Jazz, Afrocuban Folklore and Timba for decades. Bendita Guanabacoa by Hermanos Arango, nominated for a Cubadisco in 2019, brings it all together In a wonderful new recording that contains genuine surprises even for well-educated ears.
Mr. Many Moons - (Independent)
This independent recording, nominated for a Cubadisco award in the Jazz category, may not be released yet. We review it here for the sake of completeness. Musically, it is quite good, with most of it being Hard Bop and similar styles.
Madre Tierra - (Colibrí) - Released 2013
This extraordinary Jazz recording would be remarkable in any country and represents the best of the youth movement in today's Cuban Jazz. It was nominated for multiple Cubadisco 2014 awards - Jazz, Audiovisual Concert, CD/DVD, Video Clip, Making of, and Liner Notes. It won the Audiovisual Concert category.
Mal Tiempo - (Colibri) Released 2015
This Cubadisco 2015 winner (Jazz and Making of) fits perfectly in the part of the musical spectrum occupied by bands like the Yellowjackets, Weather Report, the Chick Corea Electric Band and some of Herbie Hancock's work. Very electric in more ways than one.
|CD||Liuba María Hevia||
Colección 30 años (Bis Music) Released 2013
This is an intriguing 8-CD box set covering 30 years of recordings by one of Cuba's best representatives of the Nueva Trova movement, Liuba María Hevia. It won a Special Prize in Cubadisco 2014.
|CD/DVD||Septeto Nacional Ignacio Piñeiro||
La Habana Tiene Su Son - (Bis) Released 2012
This distinctive CD/DVD set includes both live and studio recordings of the Septeto, an interview with musicologist Helio Orovio and liner notes that make this both an excellent musical production and a valuable historical document. Nominated in both the Latin GRAMMY awards and Cubadisco 2013.
Que líndo es el amor - (Independent) - Released 2013
Interactivo's latest release puts a heavy emphasis on Funk, R & B and modern Cuban dance music, and it brings the roster of musicians to make it all work. The best of a series of excellent releases by this group, and - a bonus- even those who live in the United States can buy it on-line. Winner of the Fusion category in Cubadisco 2014.
Empezar de cero - (EGREM) -Released 2011
This is the well-done debut Timba recording by a former member of Gente de Zona and includes some heavyweights like Alexander Abreu and Amaury Pérez in the brass section.
Que no me controlen - (Ahí Namá) - Released 2014
JG's second album has has a contemporary, upbeat sound that epitomizes Cuba's youth culture. I highly recommend it for dancers and DJs. Put this on at parties and watch the dance floor fill up!
Hasta Que Salga El Sol - (Unicornio) - 2017/2018
El Dueño Del Party—JG Juan Guillermo—is back with another party-ready album. His trademark is timba and tropical/timba fusion with feel-good songs that embody the energy of youth. Highly recommended for anyone looking for something fresh.
|CD||Germán Velazco & Jorge Reyes||
Duetto - (Bis Music) - Released 2011
This delightful musical conversation between saxophonist Germán Velazco and bassist Jorge Reyes won a Cubadisco award in the Instrumental Music category in 2012. Mandatory listening for bassists and saxophonists, recommended listening for everyone.
|CD||El Septeto Santiaguero & José Alberto "El Canario"||
A mi qué - (EGREM) - Released 2018
ENGLISH: El Septeto Santiaguero is back with another collaboration with José Alberto "El Canario" and an impressive roster of both Cuban and foreign guest artists. Traditional and innovative simultaneously.
La Época, Part I - The Palladium Era (2009) Directed by Josué Joseph
This film is a cinematic ode to the Palladium Era and the Mambo Craze in New York, a time before "Salsa" and simplified dance steps and rhythms took hold in the clubs. This film is not without its flaws but raises some good conversation topics including the degree of communication between dancers and bands then vs. now.
La Época Part II: Lost Rhythms in Salsa (2012) Directed by Josué Joseph
Although this film has its imperfections, it is a valiant and earnest attempt to document and lament the loss of a number of distinct rhythms in the United States as a consequence of the "Salsa" marketing phenomenon.
Mama Ina - (Unicornio) - Released 2018
ENGLISH: Bassist Gastón Joya's first commercially-released solo album, a trio project with some special guests, is the winner of the Jazz Soloist category in Cubadisco 2018