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Staff: Bill Tilford
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Cuba based rap duo, Zona Franka, blends traditional rhythms with the grit and swagger of hip-hop and rap vocal phrasings. Their clever shout choruses create instant tropical dance classics using their unique self-titled "changui con flow" style.
Authentic Latin Music Catalog for SYNC - TV & Film Music

Sin Clave No Hay Na

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Wednesday, 20 June 2012, 10:09 AM

The New York Mega Timba Concert - What Really Happened

Story by Bill Tilford, All Rights Reserved 
(para leer en español,  haga clic aqui)

Photo by Bill Tilford, all rights reserved

For better and for worse, this concert comes on the heels of a few earlier failed attempts by other promoters in other cities.   But unlike those earlier fiascoes, this time a concert really did take place.  It wasn't exactly the concert that was originally advertised, but it was a concert, it had more stars in the room than we have seen together in the United States before, and it was  a lot better musically  than I expected it to be after everything else that went wrong before the concert even started.   I was able to watch a lot of this story unfold, and towards the end, I actually wandered into some of it in ways that I never planned to do. This is a story that needs to be told, and hopefully we can all learn some things from the experience.    Hopefully one of those lessons will NOT be "Don't hire Timba bands",  but we will all need to learn the other lessons to prevent that from happening.

1st Verse -  Was this really a good idea to begin with?

It was only a year before this that the even more-sprawling Fuego Cuban Music Festival evaporated in South Florida.   In Echo Park (Los Angeles), a planned May 2011 Cuban music festival was cancelled due to funding issues.  (The LA Cubafest that did happen later in July 2011 featured Cuban-American bands, and attendance failed to meet expectations.)
In the meantime, some other tours by single bands from the island like Los Van Van encountered various problems that shortened or in some cases cancelled all or parts of their tours.   The result of all of these earlier problems was a new and understandable level of skepticism on the part of ticket buyers and venue owners.   For many of these people, the New York concert sounded too good to be true even before any of the real problems actually started.   Based on what I was hearing from Timba fans during the months before the New York concert, I'm really not sure whether ticket sales would have met expectations even if the promotion had been much better than it was.   
Nevertheless, the announcement was made - New York would have a Mega Timba Concert at the Armory in May 2012 with an historic collection of bands from Cuba. How could my colleagues and I NOT be excited about this?  Three of us made preparations to go and cover the event.   I was a little concerned at the time that the ticket-purchase website said "From Havanna to New York Non-Stop Timba Concert", and the artists included Puppy & Los Que Son Son.   and I mentioned to some colleagues at the time that it would be nice if they would spell the English version of Havana correctly, even better would be to get Pupy's name right.    This didn't inspire a lot of confidence in the people administering the concert.   Still, we were hopeful.   
When you add the usual and customary visa issues and consider the fact that individual bands all have their own agendas, it was probably too ambitious to try to bring this many full bands together in one place at the same time.   I think it would have been better if the promoters had planned and promoted a unified All Stars concert from Day One.   This was what was finally delivered, it was an excellent musical product, and most of the bad will generated by the project could have been avoided if it had been advertised this way.  Even more important, it is this reporter's opinion that the next few Timba concerts in the US should probably keep it simple:  one band - maybe two - from Cuba, if more music is needed, pair it with some suitable US talent.  It will be a while before there is enough confidence to try to repeat a concert like this one.   

Chorus:   In my opinion, the organizers tried to accomplish too much with too many bands. It is difficult enough to do a successful event with multiple bands using purely US talent. Once you go international, it becomes even harder.  This isn't just a Cuba thing - even European musicians have visa problems, and there are reasons why multiple groups from there don't do US tours together.  A much simpler concert could still have been a great success if advertised properly.  

Coming Next :  2nd Verse - The Road To The Concert 

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Sunday, 03 June 2012, 09:15 AM

New CD Release

New Cuban Express by Manuel Valera

A few weeks ago, we mentioned that some really astounding Jazz recordings were coming out this year.  New Cuban Express is one of them, and it's a masterpiece.    If you dug GES, Emiliano Salvador, Irakere, Afrocuba etc. back in the day, this new project is the next step forward from those beginnings, and it will bowl you over.     (If you have no idea who those other groups are, you have been ignoring some of the best music in our solar system.)  This recording is about to hit the streets this week, but there is already a lot of buzz about it for good reason.  Read the review, which includes links to sound samples, here...

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Friday, 01 June 2012, 01:22 AM

Celia Cruz Wins Vote for Special Smithsonian Portrait

Celia Cruz was the winner of the recent public vote for a special historical portrait to be exhibited by the Smithsonian.    The Smithsonian still seeks your comments about Celia Cruz and the project.   To read their announcement, click here...  

Celia Cruz fue la ganadora de la reciente votación del público para un retrato especial para ser exhibido en el museo.   El Smithsonian  sigue buscando  sus comentarios acerca de Celia Cruz y este proyecto.   Para leer su anuncio,  haga clic aquí...

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Monday, 21 May 2012, 08:15 PM

Congratulations to the Winners of the Cubadisco 2012 Awards

Felicitaciones a los Ganadores de los Premios Cubadisco 2012

Para leer este artículo en español, haz click aquí

Cubadisco 2012 was officially dedicated to the guitar, but in some ways it was also the year of the retrospective.  Many of this year's nominees were recordings that looked back on the careers of the musicians.  It is also worth noting that based on the number of awards (14) that it was associated with, Colibri has emerged as a new powerhouse for Cuban recordings.  Bis Music was associated with at least 9 awards, and EGREM was associated with at least 7.  Several other labels were represented as well.  We mention this because some people still mistakenly believe that the Cuban recording industry is a monolith.  Here are some of the award results that will be of particular interest to Timba.com readers:  

Cubadisco 2012 - Cuban Music News - Noticias de música cubana
CUBADISCO 2012 GRAND PRIZE:
   
Veinte Pianos, Música de Ernán López Nussa, various artists (Colibri).  Ernán has sometimes been underappreciated througout his career but had a very good year this time with 4 awards.  Veinte Pianos also won the awards for CD/DVD and Didactic Recording, and Ernán was recognized as Producer of the Year.  He is one of Bill Tilford's favorite Cuban Jazz artists. This is also Ernán's second Grand Prize - the first was in 2002 for his recording From Havana To Rio.

SPECIAL GRAND PRIZE:   Chucho's Steps, Chucho Valdés and the Afrocuban Messengers (Colibri). This is an excellent Jazz recording.  

SPECIAL AWARD: Mis 22 Años, NG La Banda (EGREM), 30 Años de Son 14,  Son 14 (EGREM),Sueños del pequeño Quin, Joaquín Betancourt (Colibri)

JAZZ:  Travesia, Iván Melón Lewis Quintet (Casa Limón).  (This actually won 2 awards. Timba.com's Kevin Moore has written a lot about Melón, who has also made major contributioins to the genre of Timba. 

TESTIMONIAL  and FOLKLORIC MUSIC : Las Estrellas del folclor, Los Hermanos Arango (Bis Music). Los Hermanos Arango made a great impression on listeners during their tour of the United States a few months ago. 

Cubadisco - Cuban Music News - Noticias de música cubanaTROVA FUSION:   Pi 3.14, Buena Fe (EGREM).  Buena Fe is a favorite of our own Timbera Mayor. 

ARCHIVAL MUSIC:   Origenes, Eduardo Ramos y Grupo Experimentación Sonora del ICAIC (Colibri)

LATIN MUSIC:  Mala, Haila (Bis Music).  Haila's solo project is a dance album that incorporates several different genres of popular music.  

*****CURRENT POPULAR DANCE MUSIC*****   Acabaito de nacer,  David Calzado y su Charanga Habanera (EGREM).  This recording does not break new ground musically, but it is a solid dance album, and one of the selections, the fusion number La Suerte,  also had a very popular video. In the near future, we will review both this recording and the other nominees for this category in more detail.  

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