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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

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domingo, 16 octubre 2011, 06:52 am

Rumbankete Releases Debut CD

Also: Two New Movies of Interest

Rumbankete, a LA-based Salsa/Timba band, has released their debut CD, Que No Pare La Fiesta.   Rumbankete has been around since the middle of the last decade and is beginning to get some recognition away from the West Coast as well.  This first outing has a lot of strong, tight ensemble work and is mostly original songs. Read the full review here...

Two movies of interest just came through the 47th Chicago International Film Festival: 

The first, Juan de Los Muertos (Juan of the Dead), is a Cuban production filmed in la Habana.  It's a horror comedy (specifically, a zombie movie) which is well-done even just as a movie but worth our mention here because of the killer soundtrack, which opens with Irakere's Bacalao con Pan and has some sweet  Cuban Funk later in the film that we are still trying to track down.  We'll probably say more about the music in another place at a later date.  For more, see the movie's website, 
Juanofthedeadmovie.com.  Come for the music, stay for the zombies. 

The other film is Chico & Rita, an animated Spanish production that is a musical tribute to the Afrocuban jazz musicians in La Habana and NY in the 40s and 50s. The great Bebo Valdes is at the helm for the excellent musical soundtrack.  The centerpiece of the film, which is set in Havana, New York and Las Vegas,  is a love story between a pianist and a vocalist (there is one nude scene, so it's not the "g-rated" kind of animation), but there are sequences involving several different key musicians including Chano Pozo.  Except for an opening audio clip with Telmary (young people on a Havana street), the music is all period music from the 40s and 50s and beautifully done.  There are a few websites for this movie, one of which is 
Both films are in Spanish with English subtitles. 

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viernes, 30 septiembre 2011, 11:46 am

Horns to Havana and Other Good Things

Recordings by Omar Sosa and Maraca Recognized

Item I:  Horns to Havana

Jazztimes.com, the free online extension of Jazztimes magazine, is now carrying an interesting section dedicated to Cuba.  The most recent article by Lee Mergner about the Horns to Havana program, in which jazz artists from up here are going down to the island to donate instruments and do workshops, is an especially interesting read.  The link is http://jazztimes.com/sections/cuba/articles  But we mention this for another reason as well.  Those of you working with jazz groups should consider joining the online community if you haven't already done so.  It's another place with a focused jazz audience that you can talk about the group, any recordings etc.   As anyone involved with jazz these days knows, there's no such thing as too much promotion...

Item II:  Omar Sosa's Recordings Recognized

Earlier this year in the Report From Chicago section, we did a piece on Omar Sosa and a capsule review of three of his recent recordings, Afreecanos, Ceremony and Calma.  Since that time, Ceremony won an Echo, a prestigious European jazz award, and Calma has been nominated for a Latin Grammy in the Instrumental department. Congratulations Omar.  He's doing a short tour of the US in late October-early November, and we'll have those details soon.  Here's a short video about Ceremony...

....click here to read the full article with Maraca's interview >>

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lunes, 26 septiembre 2011, 03:33 pm

Creole Choir Of Cuba Begins US Tour in Chicago

30 Performances in 21 Cities

The Creole Choir of Cuba
(The Creole Choir of Cuba - view the rest of the photos here)

     This mighty chorus of ten singers, dancers and percussionists from Camagüey is one of the most distinctive groups from Cuba that we've heard in years.  We saw their opening concert in Chicago, and you can read our full review here.   You don't speak Creole, you say?  They really are good enough that you  won't care.  The always-industrious Timbera Mayor has posted their tour schedule here.  Cuba's Creoles originally came from Haiti a couple of centuries back, both the language and the music are distinct, and this group represents and preserves an aspect of Cuba's cultural mosaic that most North Americans haven't been exposed to before.  Catch them if you can.  

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miércoles, 24 agosto 2011, 03:36 pm

Maraca 2.0 -- New Tour Dates, A New YouTube Channel and More...

After a well-deserved break, Maraca is back on tour beginning  September 3 in Pennsylvania followed by  a series of dates on the West Coast.  See our Maraca page in the Tours/Giras section, which Michelle White has updated, and stay tuned for new dates as they are added.  You can hear their single Preguntale A Mi Mujer on Timba Radio. 
A couple of months ago, we reviewed the CD/DVD Reencuentros, which was recorded by Maraca's other recent project, Maraca and His Latin Jazz All Stars (read that review here). Downbeat magazine also liked it well enough to make it one of their Editors' Picks for August 2011.
There is also a new YouTube channel, Maraca's TV  (descargatotal's channel) which at this writing has over 70 video uploads including live clips of recent performances.  Here's a taste:

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