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Reportes: From The St... : Cubadisco 2...
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Photos of the Day [hide]

cuban music, musica cubana cuban music, musica cubana cuban music, musica cubana cuban music, musica cubana
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

Kevin Moore - 2006

Saturday Night -- Emiliano Echeverría will be hosting another of his all-Arsenio extravaganzas Saturday, Dec. 30th at 9:00 p.m. PST. You can stream it live here.

cuban music, musica cubanaNew Year's Eve in New York - Lisandro and DJ Reyna will be at the Rose Lounge in Brooklyn on NY's Eve. Click here for a larger view of the flyer.

New Year's Eve (& Saturday) in Miami - Tiempo Libre will be at the Ire Night Club on Saturday and Sunday, with special guest Amaury Gutiérrez.

Michel Maza with Orquesta Revé in Europe! - Here are the details on the Berlin show:

January 24, 2007
Venue: Havanna
Hauptstraße 30
10827 Berlin

cuban music, musica cubanaThursday, Dec. 21, 2006 - Major New Club Opening in Miami Tomorrow Night! -- Manolín is the headliner for the opening of Ire tomorrow night, Friday, Dec. 22nd.


Other Upcoming Shows:

Sat. (tomorrow): Dany Lozada
Sat., Dec.30th: Tiempo Libre
Sun., Dec. 31st: Tiempo Libre y Amaury Gutiérrez

Click here for more info.

Lo que todos estabamos esperando. Nuevo Night Club en Miami "Club Ire" abre sus puertas este viernes diciembre 22.

Entrada gratis, música de Djs, especiales de tragos y concierto en vivo de Manolín el Médico de la Salsa.

833 SW 29 Ave
Miami FL 33126
(305) 643-3870

Club Ire tambien nos presenta en vivo a Danny Lozada, sabado 23 de diciembre. Diciembre 30 nos presenta a Tiempo Libre y el 31 de diciembre un doble concierto con Amaury Gutierrez y Manolin.

cuban music, musica cubanaMonday, Dec. 18, 2006 - Friday, Dec. 29 -: Timba in Sheffield, England - If you're in the UK, you can start celebrate the new year early with this timba dance party featuring dance guru Conchita Ponce from Havana.

Click here for more info.

cuban music, musica cubanaSaturday, Dec. 9, 2006

Tiempo Libre's 2nd Grammy Nomination!

Lo que esperabas, Tiempo Libre's 3rd CD, has landed them their second Grammy nomination.

Help them celebrate TONIGHT!

Tiempo Libre with DJ Melao
Saturday., Dec. 9

1342 Washington Ave., Miami Beach
11:30 p.m. -- $10 -- 305-673-9372

Lara has also updated their DISCS, TOURS, and NEWS pages.

Michelle also has an update on Tiempo Libre coming soon, as well as the latest on the sensational new European timba band, Calle Real.

Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2006 - Tiempo Libre Saturday - CTA next Tuesday - Will Issac show up at one of these Miami shows? The Cuban Timba All Stars will play their usual monthly gig at Sandoval's and TL will be at Jazid with DJ Melao opening.

Tiempo Libre with DJ Melao -- Sat., Dec. 9 -- Jazid
1342 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach
11:30 p.m. -- $10 -- 305-673-9372

Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2006 - Miami Updates -- First of all, the Issac situation remains a mystery. Even the most connected faranduleros either don't know or aren't talking. He's definitely in Miami, but the "WTF" and "what next" questions remain unanswered. But Lara's Este lado del puente does give us the latest on Tiempo Libre, CTA, Dany Lozada's torrid performance at Café Mystique, DJ Melao, and ... providing new lyrical fodder for Manolito Simonet ...

La Boda de Duniel! -- Hopefully we'll soon have little Dunielitos running around Miami and sending us scoops!

Thursday, Nov. 23, 2006 - It's Confirmed - Issac is in Miami -- Duniel has confirmed the rumor that's been flying around all week about Issac Delgado's apparently permanent relocation. Stay tuned for more details and speculation.

Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006 - Vanessa Alexis esta Noche en Miami -- con Carlos Puig, Pututi III, Gola, Felipe Lamoglia. Luisito Díaz y otros. Cafe Nostalgia - 34 y Collins Ave, Miami Beach - 8:00 p.m. - 305-531-8838. (free parking)

cuban music, musica cubanaSaturday, Nov. 18, 2006 - Bookwatch There's always been a dearth of books about Cuban music -- especially in English -- but now the floodgates are opening! I've discovered another page-turner: Music & Revolution by Robin Moore (no relation), published last April. I've just started on it, but I'm hooked, and I can already see it's going to be a huge help with my upcoming article on songo.

Piecing Together the Jigsaw of Cuban Music History - Ned Sublette's must-read 800-page Cuba and its Music takes us from the African, Arabic and Spanish antecedents to 1952. As for the widely-anticipated second volume, the bad news is that it will remain widely-anticipated for quite a while longer as its author has turned his attentions to New Orleans and its music and that one is also destined to be a 2-volume set. The good news, as readers of Cuba and its Music know, is that the histories of Havana and New Orleans are deeply intertwined and serious students of Cuban music will no doubt want to read Sublette's "Tale of Two Cities" quadrilogy in its entirety.

But for now, we're still stuck in 1952, and it's fair to say that quite a bit has happened in Cuban music in the last 55 years. Here at timba.com we're in the ongoing process of documenting the history of Cuban music from 1989 to the ever-advancing present, and I have a mountain of research on the 90s yet to impart, so that leaves us with 37 tumultuous years to piece together: 1952 to 1989.

Arsenio Rodríguez, one of the principal figures of the Sublette tome, is covered in exquisite detail, along with those around him, in David García's Arsenio Rodriguez and the Transnational Flows of Latin Popular Music, which gives us a lot more information, from a different slant, on the 30s and 40s in Cuba before it follows Arsenio to New York. And of course, Arsenio went to New York in 1952.

I'm still looking for a really good book on the 50s in Cuba, but Music & Revolution greatly narrows the void with a badly needed examination of the tumultuous and controversial decades of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, and also spends a fair amount of time on timba.

Here's my favorite quote so far -- relating to the difficulties of writing about the sick and twisted, but unavoidable relationship between music, economics, and politics:

from Music & Revolution
Polarized attitudes about Cuba abroad have their basis in the personal experiences and meanings that the revolution holds for various groups. People either love present-day Cuba with a passion because of what it represents to them (an alternative to capitalism, concern for the poor and disenfranchised, a symbol of all that should be criticized in the United States) or despise it because of the intense pain the revolution has caused them (harassment, jailings, loss of property, severed family ties). Researchers find themselves caught in this uncomfortable context from the outset. Pro-Cuba advocates have shouted at me merely for raising issues of limitations on personal freedoms. They assert that heavy-handed policies of media control are not the government’s fault, that they represent a logical response to external aggression. Similarly, exiles often become antagonistic as soon as they find out that I travel regularly to the island and dismiss out of hand any criticisms I might raise about prerevolutionary Cuban society. Authors attempting impartiality thus walk a tightrope between constituencies and, despite their best efforts, usually fail to please anyone.
[my emphasis]

Thursday, Nov. 16, 2006 - New Radio Show Links - Here are several more online radio links to shows by Emiliano Echeverría, including interviews with leading Cuban music attorney Bill Martínez.

Now Everybody's Wants to Get in on the Act - Hey - I cast my curse 2 years ago, and it's been working like a charm ever since. Now this Indonesian dude is going to want to claim part of the credit. Sigh ... (and no animals were harmed in the invocation of La maldición either).


cuban music, musica cubanaTuesday, Nov. 14, 2006 - Cuban Timba All Stars Tonight at Sandoval's - If you're near Miami, make sure to check out Tomasito Cruz and The Cuban Timba All Stars at Arturo Sandoval's Jazz Club in South Beach. TONIGHT! They'll be featuring a new singer, Juan Carlos, the cousin of Carlos Manuel.

cuban music, musica cubanaSunday, Nov. 12, 2006 - The First Timbero - As you all know, I've been toiling away at a 3-volume sequel to The Tomás Cruz Conga Method, a set of method books which explained, among other things, how Paulito FG's music is organized by a principle I call "gears". After we published those books, co-author Orlando Fiol began to envision a way of generalizing the gear theory to apply to all of the major timba bands. Fleshing out Orlando's brilliant theory is the central theme of the upcoming treatise. But the "fleshing out" process has led me down any number of interesting and unexpected rabbit holes, resulting in a mountain of partially finished chapters and the realization that it's going to take a lot longer to finish this than I had hoped. Thus, I'm going to publish individual chapters as I finish them. (more on the project).

The first preview, The Bass Tumbaos of Arsenio Rodríguez falls somewhere in the middle of Volume I.

"But Wait!", you say ... "Has 'la maldición' finally rotted his brain? Arsenio Rodríguez made his most important recordings 50 years before timba began!"

True that. But if you listen to some of the audio excerpts in the chapter, I think you'll start to see why I call Arsenio "The First Timbero", and also why his music is so overwhelmingly great that I had to drop everything else for a while and immerse myself in it. Enjoy!

cuban music, musica cubanaFriday, Nov. 10, 2006 - New Bamboleo Studio Album! - I haven't heard it yet, but Mi verdad looks promising. Like the Bamboleo's two indispensable masterpieces, Yo no me parezco a nadie and Ya no hace falta, it begins with a track called "Opening", hopefully an indication that Lazarito has again turned his visionary talents to creating another true "album" rather than a hasty collection of tracks. It has our pal Tato on timbales and a guest appearance by none other that Lázaro Valdés Senior.

cuban music, musica cubanaDanny Lozada Saturday Night - (photo by Duniel Deya) -- Danny Lozada will be performing tomorrow, Saturday the 11th, at Café Mystique at 10:00, with a whole new band, a whole new look, and lots of new songs and arrangements. A must for all Miami Timberos!

Lozada is best known for his wild and crazy stage persona, but he's also one of Cuba's best and most sophisticated songwriters.

Café Mystique
Saturday, Nov. 11, 10:00 p.m.
7250 NW 11th Street
Miami, Florida 33126
(305) 262-9500

Timberos de Toronto -- Papiosco, the monstrous former conguero of Klímax, Cubanismo and several of the best recent Envidia releases, is now in Toronto, along with singing tresero Pablosky Rosales, also formerly of Cubanismo. Michelle has more, including renovations of their Musicians' Directory pages.

Alianza -- Michelle has the latest on this new Cuban hiphop band. I can live without reggaeton, but I really think hiphop -- with more clave, more gears, and some serious harmonic creativity -- could have the potential to be the next big breakthrough in Cuban music.

Thursday, Nov. 9, 2006 - Viva la Maldición! ...not that it will help the visa situation, which is well below the national radar, but, in the great yuma tradition of jumbling dichos ... qué dulce la verganza!

Sunday, Nov. 5, 2006 - Maraca Aircheck Tuesday - Michelle has the link to this concert-interview broadcast from France. You can stream it online Tuesday.

cuban music, musica cubanaSaturday, Nov. 4, 2006 - Charanga Habanera's New Bassist - Timba.com welcomes Ernesto Masar Kindelán, CH's third bassist. He doubles on electric, a first for CH, and he's also the first musician to have gone from Charanga Forever to Charanga Habanera instead of the other way around. MIchelle interviews him on video.

There are also new photos and video, a Charanga Habanera concert review and the latest news on leading British timbero Osvaldo Chacón at Michelle's Blog. Check it out.

This Year's Arsenio Tribute - We've now added Emiliano Eccheverría's Schedule page. He has a show coming up on Thanksgiving and his special year-end Arsenio Rodríguez tribute on December 30th.

cuban music, musica cubanaThursday, Nov. 2, 2006 timba.com welcomes Emiliano Echeverría - Emiliano has spent decades traveling the world, collecting Cuban music, and entertaining radio audiences with his unique and informative shows. His house (pictured) is a museum of all things Cuban and Emiliano himself is a fountain of information and captivating tales about everyone from Sexteto Habanero to Arsenio Rodríguez to Timba. We're still constructing his section, but the current highlights are this fascinating interview and a list of streaming audio links to his various radio shows of the last few years. Two of these are devoted entirely to the genius of Arsenio Rodríguez, including 78s and tapes from Emiliano's collection which aren't available anywhere else.

Arsenio Rodríguez Tribute: December 25, 2004

Arsenio Rodríguez Tribute: December 25, 2005

Enjoy! (photo by Tom Ehrlich)

cuban music, musica cubanaThursday, Nov. 2, 2006 - Timba Video Links - Our Música button (at the top of the main timba.com page) now has a page with links to uTube's rapidly growing selection of Cuban music videos..

But even the mighty uTube can't hold a candle to Michelle's collection. In fact, Google offered to buy Michelle and her videos for 1.6 billion in cash and stock, but we turned them down.

By the way, Michelle has a new post on the latest incarnation of Calixto Oviedo's Timba band.

Bookwatch - Since I'll probably never get the whole think done, I've decided to start publishing individual random chapters of this crazy 3-volume Timba treatise I've supposedly been writing all these years. The first, from Volume I, is on Arsenio Rodríguez, and may I be struck down by la maldición de los timberos if I don't finish it in the next week.

cuban music, musica cubana

Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2006 - Manolín & Dany Lozada Together Saturday Night! - If that's not enough to get you crazy Miamians out of the house this weekend, here's the deal-closer: timba.com's own Duniel Deya will be the DJ. Stay home at your peril. Click here for a larger version of the poster.

cuban music, musica cubana

Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2006 - Wow! - Check this out! It appears to be a live album with Pedro Pablo, Tirso, Michel Maza and Mandy Cantero. The audio clips are very short, but sound really good. Stay tuned for more info soon. The Spanish spelling of "aces" leaves something to be desired in the false cognate department, but check out the the audio clips! Thanks to Yemayá's Verse for the tip.

Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2006 - "Oh Canada ..."- Along with an onslaught of other Timba news, Michelle gives us the best reason to move to Canada since the Vietnam War.

Peter Watrous on Popular! -- New York Times veteran Peter Watrous, who writes short CD reviews for descarga.com, dusts off his serious writing chops for an extended review of the new Charanga Habanera documentary, Popular!.

cuban music, musica cubana
Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006 - The Meeting of the Masters -
We've added a new gallery on the historic meeting of legendary percussionist Walfredo de los Reyes and growing legend Reinier Guerra by photographer Tom Ehrlich. Reinier, on tour with Maraca last month, visited Walfredo at his home in Concord, California, and jammed on a variety of instruments. I wish I could also include the audio, which was astonishing!

Havana Travel Guide - If you live in the Free World and are planning a trip to Cuba, check out the latest writings of Gabriel, the consummate Cuban adventuress, at Yemayá's Verse.

cuban music, musica cubanaFriday, Oct. 27, 2006 - Popular! - Jennifer Paz' Charanga Habanera documentary, Popular!, is finally available in the US. It begins with amazing footage of the August 1997 "Suspension Concert" on the Malecón. The bulk of the film takes place shortly before and after the departures of Yulién Oviedo and Ebblis "El Boni" Valdivía. Ms. Paz, now working on a new documentary on Manolín, was able to capture some extremely candid and revealing interview footage and behind the scenes goings on. Most of the material is from "Soy cubano, soy popular". This is the favorite album of many Charanga freaks, but for me, it's my least favorite period in CH history. Nevertheless, having spent so much time studying the group, I was spellbound by every frame of this DVD. Just to see the legendary "El Fanguito" was amazing. There are also some interesting and hilarious adventures and misadventures involving the various members.

cuban music, musica cubanaTres de los Seis - Three of the six Pututis are now reunited in Miami.

From left to right we have Pututi I (Alexis), Pututi III (Armando) and Pututi II (Ángel). There are two more younger brothers still in Cuba (and yes -- their names also begin with "A") (and yes -- they all play percussion).

But the numbering scheme is wrong! because the real Pututi I is the father -- reputed to be a killer percussionist himself. He's still living in the Eastern part of the island with Mrs. Pututi.

Monday, Oct. 23, 2006 - Los Van Van in Canada and South America - "en el norte ... y en el sur ... pero pa' mí? Pa' mí no hay un tour." Hey -- the Spanish might be wrong, but at least it rhymes.

Michelle has the scoop on El Tren in Canada, Brazil, Chile and Argentina. Enjoy it if you can!

cuban music, musica cubana
Sunday, Oct. 22, 2006 - Foto Review of CTA at Sandoval's - Sept. 26th

Duniel Deya just filed a Foto Review of the Cuban Timba All Stars' most recent gig at Arturo Sandoval's Jazz Club - which featured a multitude of guest stars including Arturo himself. Also present, among many others, were Pututi III, Pututi I, Manolín, and Armando Gola. Check them out this Tuesday night, October 24th, for another exciting and unpredictable concert.

cuban music, musica cubanaSaturday, Oct. 21, 2006 - Cuban Timba All Stars in Miami Tuesday Night - This Tuesday, October 24th, Tomás Cruz and the Cuban Timba All Stars will return to Arturo Sandoval's Jazz Club at the Deauville Hotel in South Beach.

If you can't wait until Tuesday, you can hear Tomasito playing with Arturo Sandoval in Cincinnati at the College-Conservatory of Music. Arturo now has an all-Timbero rhythm section including Manolín alumni Alexis "Pututi I " Arce on drums and the latest addition, master bassist Armando Gola.

cuban music, musica cubanaFriday, Oct. 20, 2006 - Timba Behind the Iron Curtain - Well, the old Iron Curtain that is. Writing from behind the new one, I'm still able to tell you that Calle Sol is a great band formed by Reinaldo Ceballo, the founding pianist of Azúcar Negra.

Calle Sol is one of the few Timba bands that's been able to make the magic happen outside of Havana. Read more about Reinaldo and his band in the Calle Sol Artists section.

Arsenio Rodríguez - I'm not kidding when I say that this guy virtually invented Timba back in the 1940s. Stay tuned for a new article on one of the most important Cuban musicians of all time.

cuban music, musica cubanaFriday, Oct. 13, 2006 - See Elain and Help Autistic Kids Tonight - It'll be the most fun you've had making a charitable contribution!

Elain and cuban rapper Mr. Haka live tomorrow at Cafe Nostalgia. Proceeds will be donated to a foundation for autistic kids called "Niños de la Luz" (Children of the Light). October 13, 2006 (Friday).

Elain y rapero cubano Mr Haka se unen en concierto para recaudar fundos para la fundación de niños autistas llamada "Niños de la Luz". El nuevo tema de Elain a duo con Mr. Haka "Estoy marea'o" se estrenará en vivo esa noche. 13 de octubre, 2006

Thursday, Oct. 12, 2006 - Cuba Travel Embargo Tightened Drastically - You've got to give these Republicans credit for multi-tasking. They've managed to find the time to come up with new ways to screw Cubans and music fans of both countries, even while juggling various other matters, such as:

1) Explaining why they falsified intelligence to launch a 500 billion dollar war that's killed 2,757 Americans, almost 700,000 Iraqis, accomplished nothing except to foment a civil war and create a new Islamic theocracy, and which has no end in sight and is getting worse by the hour.

2) Explaining to their family values base why they blackmailed a pedophile into running for congress.

3) Explaining to their Christian conservative base why they make fun of them behind their backs.

I could go on and on, but this is too easy ... I'm going back to working on something more challenging -- transcribing Arsenio Rodríguez bass tumbaos. Bottom line here is that it now looks extremely inadvisable to go to Cuba while Bush is still in office.

cuban music, musica cubanaThursday, Oct. 12, 2006 - New Charanga Forever with Michel & Tirso - Another Envidia release! The new Charanga Forever CD, Somos Charangueros, looks very interesting and gets a rave review from Peter Watrous. Of the original group, only conguero Vitico and trumpeters Polledo and Patterson remain, but I've loved everything since La cuqui quiere fiesta -- clean singing sin gritar, in-tune horns, and very interesting arranging. This new album has Michel guest singing on 3 tracks and Tirso on one. I'll have more as soon as I get my hands on a copy.

Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2006 - Manolín LIve in Europe on uTube - If you haven't discovered uTube, there's an amazing amount of great music there -- most recently, Hendrik has unearthed several video clips of Manolín's European band with Melón, Joel Domínguez, Pico, Alexander Abreu, etc. This one has a great Melón solo (cut short, unfortunately). To whomever put these up: Please put up the full tracks! Also, the audio is badly out of sync with the video. But hey, the band sounds incredible, so I'm not complaining.

New Features Coming - We'll soon be adding a dancing section, a record collecting section and a Timba educational section (some sooner than others!). Stay tuned.

cuban music, musica cubana
Maraca, Alberto, & Adonis at Yoshi's

Friday, Oct. 6, 2006 - Maraca Photos - Maraca plays two shows a night tonight, tomorrow and Sunday. Click here for Tom Ehrlich's photo report from the Thursday show.

Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2006 - Maraca in Oakland all Week! - Maraca will be at Yoshi's in Oakland's Jack London Square tonight through Sunday. He has an all star band including the electrifying Reinier Guerra on drums, Tony Pérez on piano, Adonis Puentes on vocals, and Nengue Hernández on congas.

cuban music, musica cubanaBook Watch! - Yet another great new book is David García's long-awaited treatise on Arsenio Rodríguez.

This is a perfect supplement to Ned Sublette's Cuba and its Music for those who, like me, are discovering the glorious world of "pre-timba".

If you've never heard Arsenio Rodríguez, prepare yourselves. Once you get past the sound quality (mono transfers of 78's from the 1940s), you'll be astounded how modern this stuff sounds. But to fully understand Arsenio's genius, you need to listen to the music in chronological order -- begin with the Son, Danzón and Bolero of the 20s and 30s and then listen to Arsenio. There are quantum leaps in almost every aspect of the music. Arsenio revolutionized the bass tumbao, added the piano, the conga, and the brass section, created bloques which sound as hip today as they did in 1940, added large doses of Guaguancó and Afrocuban folkloric influences to popular music, set the tone for modern Cuban lyric-writing, and wrote dozens of classic songs. He also had a powerhouse band with an astonishing pianist named Lilí Martínez who has to be heard to be believed.

cuban music, musica cubanaI'm working on some listening guides for Arsenio, Sexteto Habanero, and some of the other treasures these books have revealed to me, but for the moment, my strongest recommendation is Dundunbanza, probably the best of the Arsenio compilations.

In general, I've found that Tumbao Records, based in Barcelona, has the best transfers, selection and liner notes of the multitude of companies reissuing the Cuban masterpieces of the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s.

Tiempo Libre Sunday at Miami's new Carnival Performing Arts Center - Tiempo Libre will perform this Sunday as part of the inaugural weekend for Miami's brand new Carnival Performing Arts Center. They'll play as part of a free all-day event called Target Global Beat, which features performances by a variety of world music groups. You'll need a wristband to get into the performances, and these can be picked up on Sunday at the Carnival Center -- look for the "GlobalBeat" tent, which will be located at NE 14th Street and Bayshore Drive, Tiempo Libre goes on at:

12:30 p.m. - Ziff Ballet Opera House Terrace
3:00 p.m. - Knight Concert Hall

Also see Tiempo Libre's section for the latest updates from Lara Greene.

Saturday, September 30, 2006 - Great Online Radio Tonight - Emiliano Echeverría, noted DJ and record collector, is doing an online show tonight on KPFA at 9:00 p.m. PST. Click here to listen. He's full of wild stories and plays an eclectic mix of Timba and classic music from the period covered by the Sublette book. Check it out!

Friday, September 29, 2006 - Michelle Interviews Vitaly - Michelle White has a lengthy and fascinating new interview with Vitaly Osmachko, the Ukranian producer of the cult-classic 2001 CD "Vitaly y su Timba Habanera", which featured, among others, Tony Pérez, Alexander Abreu, Amaury Pérez, Frank Rubio, Román Filiu, Pepe Gómez, Marcos Greco, Carlos Calunga, Rosendo Díaz "El Gallo", and Ricardo Amaray

Thursday, September 28, 2006 - Miami & New York Updates - Updates to Timba in New York, Timba in Miami, Elain, and Tiempo Libre. As you can see from Lara's blog, the Cuban Timba All Stars and Tiempo Libre are playing at the same time in different clubs on Saturday. Ay mamá.

Cuban Timba All-Stars
Saturday, September 30
Hialeah Classic Club
3838 W. 16th Avenue
Doors open at 9:00
Show time 11:00

Tiempo Libre
Saturday, September 30
Jazid 11:30 p.m.
1342 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach

Maraca in LA - If you can't decide which band to see, you can always fly to LA to see Senator George Allen's favorite band. Here's a full press release with lots of reviews, quotes, and other information. Maraca then moves on to Yoshi's where he'll play from Tuesday to Sunday.

Tuesday, September 25, 2006 - Reportaje: Tiempo Libre en Union City -- Tenemos un nuevo reportaje sobre el concierto recién de Tiempo Libre en Union City. Gracias a Yesenia Fernández Selier.

DJ Gary Domínguez and the first Timba Congress! - Dancing "congresses" are the means by which Salsa "slot dancing" has become the dominant form of Latin dancing worldwide. Here's the latest from DJ Gary on his tireless efforts to increase the popularity of Casino and Rueda:

Maquinando el primer Timba Congress (East Coast USA) con varios DJs, bandas locales de Timba, Rueda de Casino, etc. La idea se está forgando para finales de año o prinipcios del año que viene.

For more information, email Gary at garylatina, then the "at" sign, then msn.com.

Monday, September 25, 2006 - Maraca in LA Saturday -- In addition to the 6-day run at Yoshi's in Oakland, Maraca has added a show in Los Angeles. Here's a full press release with lots of reviews, quotes, and other information.

Sat. Sept. 30, 2006
The Granada
17 So. First St.
Alhambra, CA 91801
626 458 3265

cuban music, musica cubana
Friday, September 22, 2006 - Cuban Timba All Stars in Miami

September 30th, 2006
Hialeah Classic Club
3838 w 16 ave
Doors open at 9:00
Show time 11:00
$20 cover
For information call: 786-382-3035

September 26th, 2006
Arturo Sandoval Jazz Club
8:30 – Jazz set
10:30 – Timba set
$15 cover per show

Timba in New York Updates - New updates to CLUBS, DJs, and EVENTS.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 - Maraca in CA - As Michelle points out, I've been remiss in mentioning Maraca's upcoming California tour (I already had tickets though!). The tour starts in LA and Santa Barbara for one show each before Maraca brings his new all star band of US based musicians to Yoshi's for a full week. The band includes the astounding young drummer Reinier Guerra, Tony Pérez, Nengue Hernández, Adonis Puentes, and others. See you there!

cuban music, musica cubana

Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - Welcome descarga.com! - In the beginning, before the term "dot com" came into existence, life was more difficult for Latin music fans. You could go to New York and find Harry Sepulveda's shop in the Times Square subway station, or you could get a copy of the Descarga catalog and mail a cashier's check to Brooklyn along with your order. Finally, a young Salsa fan named Kevin Moore, after much pleading and cajoling, convinced Descarga to take the big plunge and start accepting credit card orders over the phone. Today, descarga.com has the largest and best documented selection of Latin music on the web, and with the closing of the timba.com store, La última will finally be able to live up to its name because descarga.com almost invariably gets each new release before everyone else does.

New timba-related offerings from descarga.com:

cuban music, musica cubanaPiloto's new DVD -- I have this and it's fantastic. It's Klímax's 10th Anniversary Concert, beautifully filmed and conceived. It has new material with the current group, and a full retrospective of Piloto's songwriting career performed by a large cast of guest stars including Vania Borges, Mandy Cantero, Leonid Torres and Chucho Valdés. There's also fascinating interview footage and biographical information on Piloto's career. His father was part of the composing team of Piloto y Vera and his uncle Guillermo Barreto was one of the most important percussionists in Cuban music history. Piloto himself is inseparable from the history of Timba. He played drums and wrote songs for the first Timba band, NG La Banda; wrote several hits for Charanga Habanera, including the gorgeous Mi estrella and their first big hit Me sube la fiebre; served as drummer and musical director for Issac Delgado's early 90's group, writing such classics as No me mires a los ojos, Dos mujeres and ¿Por qué paró?; and of course, he created and wrote dozens of songs for perhaps Timba's most original band, Klímax. Piloto won the timba.com reader's award for Best Drummer and was in the top 6 in the categories of Best Songwriter, Best Arranger, Best Bandleader, and Best Lyricist. The DVD also has a Klímax discography with Piloto discussing each album.

Bamboleo & Manolito DVD -- a "battle of the bands" between Bamboleo and El Trabuco. It has the best technical quality of any Cuban music DVD I've seen -- stunningly clear video and pristine audio - it also has a separate audio CD and lots of interview footage in addition to the concert. My only complaint, of course, is that like all "professional" videos, the camera jumps around so fast that it's not very useful for seeing what any given musician is playing. The Bamboleo footage is interesting in that it has only two percussionists, both of whom have departed: Duñesky Barreto on congas, and Hedi Montalbán ("Tato") on drums & timbales. This is the rhythm section that Kevin Maestro was raving about last year. Tato is now in Miami. Bamboleo has two promising new singers -- Yuleydis Olazábal and Ronnys López Salas.

Vania's solo album -- I usually hate it when timberos release bolero albums, but I have high hopes for this one as Vania is by far my favorite Cuban ballad singer (Tú y yo, somos una misma cosa, Candil de nieve), and Rolando Luna is for me Timba's most original and harmonically sensitive accompanist. Among the other notable musicians are Tata Güines, Alexander Abreu and Frank Rubio.

cuban music, musica cubanaThursday, September 14, 2006 - Timba in NY is Back! - Many thanks to Shaby and Ahmed for reviving the Timba in New York section. Everything is now up to date, including the latest on Carlos Boyz, La Bolá. Lisandro, La Timba Loca, and Rico Tumbao.

There's also info on classes, musicians, dancing, clubs, DJ's, and regular blog updates to "De La Habana a Nueva York".

Monday, September 11, 2006 - Where were you on 9/11? - I had flown to LA to see Issac perform the night before the Latin Grammies, for which La fórmula had been nominated. On the morning of the 11th, after typing up my review, I walked out into the total mayhem of the hotel lobby and realized what had transpired. It's been a long and often painful 5 years, but New York, and Timba music, are still alive and kicking. Gracias a la vida.

Tiempo Libre in New York City:
Saturday, September 16, 8 pm
Park Performing Arts Center
Union City, NY

Special discount for timba fans:
Order tickets on line or by phone and mention or
enter the code "timbalover" to get a 35% discount on tickets!
Call 800-595-4849 or log on to www.parkpac.org

Sunday, September 10, 2006 - Texas Timba - There are two news items out of Austin this weekend. First of all, Mariela Suárez and Havana NRG have been nominated for Best Salsa Group in Austin. You can vote for them by clicking here.

I also talked to master percussionist and ex-ENA instructor Raúl Valdés, also in Austin, who's getting close to finishing his instructional book on Latin drumming. Stay tuned for more on that. Raúl also provided this interesting bit of timba trivia: his most illustrious former student, CTA drummer Reinier Guerra, is also a very talented painter! Maybe we can add a gallery page for him.

Pututi III in Miami? - Armando Arce, the younger brother of Alexis and Ángel, who most recently was playing drums with Paulito FG, is rumored (but not confirmed) to be in Miami. Maybe we'll get to hear a band with an all-Pututi rhythm section. By the way, it turns out that the Pututi numbering system is wrong. The original "Pututi I", still in Guantánamo, is the father, also a musician and a huge influence on his talented sons. It's too late to change now, but we should really add one to each guy's apodo, and it turns out there are FIVE sons, all with first names beginning with the letter A, and all phenomenal musicians.

cuban music, musica cubanaThursday, September 7, 2006 - Dany Lozada Friday Night - September 8th -- Dany has a great band, a new CD, and a gig tomorrow night and an interesting new Miami nightclub, Tropicana Rice and Beans.

Tropicana Rice and Beans
7500 NW 25 St., Miami
Phone: (305) 468-9593

$20 Hombres / $10 mujeres
Mujeres pagan 50% de todos los tragos!!
Women pay 50% of all drinks

Lanzamiento de Disco nuevo "Bachazon" - son, bachata, salsa y timba!! Homenaje a Polo Montañez y Juan Luis Guerra.

Release concert for his new album "Bachazon" - son, bachata, salsa and Timba! In tribute to Polo Montañez and Juan Luis Guerra.

Timba in NY Returns! -- Stayed tune for an extensive update to our long dormant Timba in NY section - coming soon.

Arturo Sandoval's Jazz Club -- Timba every Tuesday! Please make a habit of supporting the Latino Meets Jazz series every Tuesday night. Cuban Timba All Stars on September 26th and Edwin Bonilla on the 19th (Edwin's group features Freddy Cárdenas, the excellent young vocalist who sang with Tomasito's group in San Francisco last week. Miami has so many great musicians -- now it needs a great public to support them.

cuban music, musica cubanaSunday, September 3, 2006 Mamborama now available in the Timba Store - Meanwhile, back in the familiar world of CD's that you can hold in your hand and lovingly run your fingers across the glossy artwork, Mamborama III, Directamente al Mambo, has now been released in the US by Ahí-Namá Records. It features the same thrilling Trabuco rhythm section as Entre la Habana y el Yuma. Sadly, it's the final recording of the late great Eduardo Mora who passed away late last year. Mora, Riverón and Evelio create the perfect groove for Bill Wolfer's great horn-writing - a mixture of funk, jazz and Los Metales de Terror. To replace El Indio, Hunter S. recruited an all-star cast of singers - Carlos Kalunga (ex-Manolito, ex-Klímax), Roberto Van Van, Pepe Gómez of Los Que Son Son and El Nene (ex-Azúcar Negra, now with Revé). If that's not enough star power, the featured soloists are the supreme deity Alexander Abreu, the infallible Amaury Pérez, the incomparable Feliciano Arango, and the lunatic legend himself, El Tosco.

But my favorite track is still the beautiful Mi bailerina. I just can't get enough of Kalunga's soaring, melodic voice.

Bailarina - clip 1
Bailarina - clip 2

cuban music, musica cubanaSaturday, September 2, 2006 CTA's Live Album Now Available Online - Behold the future of the music industry! A live album of tracks from The Cuban Timba All Stars' February tour has been released, but you can only buy it online in the form of downloadable MP3's. (photos by Tom Ehrlich)

The Future of Timba pt. I - Virtual Record Sales - I'm still trying to get my head around the massive implications of this whole online downloadable music thing. Is the iPod movement unstoppable? Are CD's going the way of vinyl? And if so, is that good or bad? Well, if you think about it from a timba-centric point of view, it might turn out to be just what el médico ordered. The radio and record industries have not exactly been kind to Cuban musicians over the years, and in fact, the corporate record industsry has been brutally screwing all musicians since the dawn of time, so if the paradigm switches to a decentralized system where individual timbageeks buy music online from individual timba bands, well ... think about it! And check out the first example.


cuban music, musica cubanaThis same online company, Latin Pulse Music, is also producing a studio album by my new favorite songwriter Braily Ramos featuring Reinier Guerra and other top Miami musicians. Stay tuned for more on that! This guy is a hook-writer extraordinaire. The Braily tune I simply can't get out of my head is Mi verdad, performed on last week's CTA tour by Yordamis Megret. Again, this virtual CD will only be available as an electronic download. The world is changing, folks. (Braily foto by Peter Maiden)

The Future of Timba pt. II -- Teaching the World to Tembleque - At the recent CTA tour I finally got to meet François and Yamilá of the Dos con Dos dance school in Quebec. They have no day jobs. All they do is teach Cuban dance and they have over 600 students! They enlightened me to all the subtle distinctions between timba dancing and "slot dancing", the ballroom style that's all the rage at "Salsa Congresses" around the world. Slot dancers don't like timba because they don't know what to do when it gets to the good parts (pedal, bomba, breakdowns, etc.). Of course, Cuban dancers know exactly what to do when the going gets good and François and Yamilá have devised an amazing system for teaching it to non-Cubans. If all goes according to plan, they'll be adding an exciting new Dance section to timba.com in the coming months. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 28, 2006 Photo Review of CTA in SF - Don't forget the Cuban Timba All Stars concert at Sandoval's (see below). Here's a review of their San Francisco tour with 30 glorious new photos from the great Peter Maiden. downloadable live album

cuban music, musica cubanaMonday, August 28, 2006 Cuban Timba All Stars at Sandoval's Tuesday Night Before I start raving about CTA's West Coast Tour, don't forget that they'll be at Sandoval's tomorrow, Tuesday, in Miami. It's about time to give Arturo Sandoval some props. The Irakere trumpet legend has dozens of recordings under his belt, 4 Grammy's, an Emmy, a movie made of his life, his own Jazz club, and enough star status to allow him to tour the world effortlessly and comfortably and always have a packed house waiting for him. It would be very easy for him to sit back and rest on his laurels, but he continuously seeks out the most talented young musicians and has become Miami's leading patron of Timba with his Tuesday night Latino Meets Jazz series. Gracias Arturo!

More coming soon on the West Coast Shows!
cuban music, musica cubana
(all fotos by Peter Maiden)

Friday, August 25, 2006 --Cuban Timba All Stars in SF Tonight -- Also Saturday & Sunday. Click here for ticket info.I went to the rehearsal last night and the band is sounding hotter than ever, and this time they have no shortage whatsoever of very interesting material, including two new Manolín songs, a new version of Yordamis' big Bamboleo hit, Recapacita, and more great Braily Ramos originals, arranged by Felipe Lamoglia who has a very distinct and exciting style using modern harmonies in a way that I've never heard a timba band use them. Joining Manolín & Yordamis in the front line are timba veteran Adonis Puente and another new singer whose name I didn't get, but who has a strong, clear voice. And for me, Chaka on keyboards is the final piece of the puzzle.

These are historic shows which are not to be missed if you have any way of getting to Northern California. Lara Greene is flying in from Miami, dance guru François Bégin from Québec, as well as film-makers Jennifer Paz from LA, and Third Wind Media's Clayton Leander from Vallejo. Don't Miss It!

cuban music, musica cubanacuban music, musica cubana
Wed., August 16, 2006
CTA con El Médico
in San Francisco
Aug. 25, 26, 27

Only 9 days to go until the long-awaited second West Coast tour of Tomasito Cruz's Cuban Timba All Stars, with the latest addition to their dream-team lineup: Manolín, el Médico de la Salsa singing his all new Timba hits Tarea pa' la casa and Me falta la Habana. There will be two keyboardists this time: Orlando Guanche, and Eduardo "Chaka" Nápoles, who has recorded on every one of Manolín's CD's and is now also a top Miami session player and the leader of his own group, El Tumbao. Also returning from the last tour will be the stunning ex-Bambolera Yordamis Megret, singing several gorgeous new originals by trombonist and Manolín alumnus Braily Ramos, one of the best Cuban songwriters of recent years. Most important from my point of view is the return of the world class rhythm section of conguero Tomás Cruz and the astounding young drummer Reinier Guerra. Tickets are already on sale. I'll be at all three - see you there!

Issac in Stockholm -- Read all about it at Michelle's blog. She also has an interview with Issac and the rest of the tour schedule.

The Continuing Timba Adventures of Gabriel in Italy -- Yemayá's Verse has several more fascinating episodes in this continuing blog saga, which is beginning to rival Bill Wolfer's Mambo Blogorama in terms of voyeuristic thrills for your blog-surfing buck.

Klímax DVD -- See below for more details. Review coming soon.

Sunday, August 13, 2006 -- PFG, El Médico, Pupy, y NG Together in Rome August 15th -- Gabriel of Yemayá's Verse has a candid and fascinating review of their first show last week. Catch it if you can. And Manolín's next stop will be San Francisco on August 25th, 26th, and 27th with The Cuban Timba All Stars. Gabriel is adding new reports at a furious pace, so keep checking back.

cuban music, musica cubanaSaturday, August 12, 2006 -- The Book Watch -- It takes a long time to write a book! It took us a year and a half to churn out The Tomás Cruz Conga Method, and ever since I've been slaving away at my online sequel, with the working title Timba: Understanding Modern Cuban Rhythms (or something like that). But even worse than trying to finish one yourself is waiting for someone else to! Ned Sublette's Cuba and its Music, Volume I changed my life but Volume II, it turns out, has been pushed back while he writes a massive history of New Orleans music.

Meanwhile, when I first met David Peñalosa 8 years ago, he was working on an epic 7-volume set called Unlocking Clave, which explains not only the genesis of the clave rhythm, but the quinto style of Los Munequitos de Matanzas, the application of rumba soloing techniques to instrumental solos, and nearly everything else in-between. The book still hasn't been released, but it's now grown to 9 volumes.

Waiting for all these books to be published is as bad as waiting for the demise of George Bush and his suppression of Cuban music, but there's some good news -- The Conga Drummer's Guidbook, one of the most eagerly awaited books on Cuban music, has finally come out. Michael Spiro is a master drummer of all styles, the producer of several of the most sublime recordings of Afrocuban folkloric music, and probably the best English language Cuban music educator on the planet. He too had been perpetually working on a book in which he would attempt to explain, once and for all, what is perhaps the most difficult aspect of Cuban music for non-Cubans to grasp: swing. By now, even old Aunt Marge back home in Iowa has some idea of swing in North American music (source). The rolling sensation of delaying every other 8th note is as natural as breathing, but Cuban music swings in a different way (source) which is harder for North Americans and Europeans to imitate, and infinitely harder to explain in musical terminology than its North American counterpart. In fact, Mr. Spiro is the first author to even attempt to explain it in more than the most superficial way, and, more important, he also demonstrates it on the accompanying CD in a way that was a major breakthrough for me. He plays a series of examples "as written" and then, immediately afterwards, con swing.

For this feature alone, I can't recommend this book highly enough for non-drummers and non-musicians whose only goal is to increase their enjoyment of listening to Cuban music. As the title implies, The Conga Drummer's Guidebook appears on the surface to be a technical study for conga drummers, and it contains dozens of very interesting conga-centric exercises and innovative soloing techniques, but for those of us who don't have a quarter of an inch of callouses and adhesive tape covering each finger, its greatest value is the breakthrough of conveying the feel of Cuban music with simple English and brilliantly devised audio examples. It can be purchased directly by sending email to this address: mspirobata -- then @ -- then aol.com. (I have to show the email address this way so the spam robots won't harvest it).

cuban music, musica cubanaThursday, August 10, 2006 -- Tragedy in Barcelona -- The great conguero Miguel "Angá" Díaz passed away unexpectedly yesterday in Spain from a heart attack. He was only 45 years old. Angá was chosen by timba.com's readers as the best Timba conguero of all time. Best known for his work with Irakere, Angá recorded on dozens of CD's as a leader and as a session player. He was also a very active educator. CitizenJazz.com has more on his brilliant and tragically short life.

cuban music, musica cubanaWickly in Miami -- Another legend of the congas, Wickly Nogueras, will be at Café Nostalgia this Sunday, August 13th, on 34th St. between Collins and the ocean.

Wickly played on the early classic recordings of NG La Banda and has been living in Miami for over decade. The show at Café Nostalgia with be an Afrocuban drum jam, so anything could happen. If you're in Miami, don't miss it.

cuban music, musica cubanaChaka joins CTA -- The great pianist Eduardo "Chaka" Nápoles will joining the Cuban Timba All Stars for their upcoming San Francisco shows on August 25th, 26th and 27th, featuring a new front line with Manolín, el Médico de la Salsa, and Adonis Puentes joining founding member Yordamis Megret (ex-Bamboleo).

Chaka, the consummate professional, is also on my short list of the most creative timba pianists. He created the tumbaos of La bola, No lo comentes, Somos lo que hay, Romeo y Julieta, and many more of Manolín's greatest hits.

cuban music, musica cubanaCarlos Manuel in Miami Tomorrow
and in Tampa Saturday:

Carlos Manuel y su Clan
En vivo manana Viernes en Naples
Congas Night Club
4110 Golden Gate Parkway
Info 786 4431240

Carlos Manuel, Bonco Quiñongo y Andy Aguilera
Sabado en Tampa en el India Cultural Center
5511 Lynn Road,Tampa
Info 813 264 4638

Wednesday, August 2, 2006 -- Updates to Timba in Miami, Tiempo Libre & Elain -- click the links in the column to the left. Also, Hilario's Bell page has been updated in the Musicians' Directory.

Tiempo Libre in Philly TONIGHT & NYC Thursday & Friday:

August 2
Philadelphia, PA
Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
August 3
Bronx, NY
Park 52 - with special guest artist Jimmy Bosch!

August 4
New York, NY
Lincoln Center Out of Doors

Elain in concert this Sunday in Miami:

Sunday, August 6:
"Elain en la intimidad"
with various invited guests
10:30 p.m. @ Café Nostalgia
34 Street between Collins Ave. and the Ocean
Miami Beach

cuban music, musica cubanaSaturday, July 29, 2006 -- Los 70 en Nueva York -- The decades of the 70's in New York and the 90's in Havana have many parallels. Each city experienced the rare and wonderful convergence of brilliant musicians, new musical ideas, a highly energized public and motivated club owners, resulting in an avalanche of great albums and unforgettable live performances.

To celebrate the era of classic salsa, which has attracted a surge of new interest of late with the reissuing of the remastered Fania catalog, the indefatigable DJ Gary Domínguez has organized the Third Annual International Latin & Tropical Music Festival, which will be held on Saturday, October 21st at the Hostos Center for Arts and Culture in the Bronx. There will be live music, DJ's, seminars, and booths displaying and selling recordings and memorabilia.

To learn more about Salsa, check out Gary's 600-page encyclopedia of Latin music, El Cuaderno Latino de la Salsa and the extensive website Herencia Latina

Tiempo Libre Tonight in Miami - If you're in Miami, don't miss Tiempo Libre at Jazid.

Friday, July 28, 2006 Orishas y Salsa en Venezuela - Michelle's blog has an Orishas concert report from Claudia D'ammassa and details on the Festival Salsa Casino HabanaCaracas in September.

cuban music, musica cubanaThursday, July 27, 2006 En frecuencia's salute to Israel Sardiñas - The late great LVV singer continues to be remembered and missed en todas partes. En frecuencia has new fotos of his last public appearances. To learn more about this legendary musician, here's an excellent retrospective by Walter Magana, a founding member of Herencia Latina a website well worth checking out.

cuban music, musica cubanaTiempo Libre in Miami Saturday, then on to Chicago & New York - Last chance to hear them in Miami for a while.

Here's a short review of their recent West Coast tour here are their upcoming tour dates.

Saturday, July 29
Jazid 11 p.m.
1342 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach

cuban music, musica cubanaDJ Melao - This guy must be one hot DJ! En frecuencia and Este lado del puente both have updates on his upcoming appearance in San Francisco.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006 - New Manolín Studio Preview - Here are some highlights from another of Manolín's new songs, Me falta la Habana, one which we'll no doubt hear at the August 25/26/27 concerts in San Francisco. How did I manage to get my hands on this? Well ...

cuban music, musica cubanaMonday, July 24, 2006 - El Médico con Melón, Yoel Domínguez y Chapottín! Manolín played this weekend with a band of assorted All Stars, including legendary timba pianist Melón González, Yoel Domínguez, former bassist of Paulito & Issac, and musicians borrowed from NG La Banda, (NG played on the same bill) such as trumpeter Elpidio Chapottín and El Tosco's brother Pablo on congas. Click here for Hendrik Liefrink's spirited review! (Hendrik with Melón González).

It sounds like a typically disorganized Manolín production and typical non-timba schtick from the depressingly disappointing El Tosco ... sigh ... what a waste of talent.

BUT TAKE HEART! -- Manolín will be playing August 25th, 26th & 27th in San Francisco with The Cuban Timba All Stars, and Tomasito reports that this will not ... I repeat ... WILL NOT be the same old disorganized 30 minute version of La bola! They're rehearsing -- and they're rehearsing new songs -- including the new hit Tarea pa' la casa, which you can hear at En frecuencia.

Imagine Manolín singing new timba songs with a super-tight rhythm section, one of the best horn sections in the world and Yordamis singing coro ... Hey Hendrik: let me know when your flight gets in and I'll pick you up at San Francisco International Airport!

cuban music, musica cubanaMonday, July 17, 2006 - Tiempo Libre on the West Coast Check them out Tuesday in Seattle at the Triple Door and Wednesday at Yoshi's in Oakland. Here's the full tour schedule.

The timba-starved full house at the legendary Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz gave the Grammy nominated Tiempo Libre several standing ovations and was rewarded with two encores after two burning hot sets.

It's not easy to have a Timba band in Miami. There's no shortage of genius musicians, but to survive in "la Yuma" they all have to work with multiple bands. There are two problems with this: all the bands start sounding the same, and they seldom rehearse enough to develop an original identity.

In the case of Tiempo Libre, there's no doubt that these seven guys have a distinct identity and have spent long hours together: rehearsing, gigging, touring, and recording. The bloques, gear changes, guías and arrangments have that feeling of tightness and confidence that you normally only get with a real "monogamous" Havana band. If you check out Lara Greene's interview with leader/pianist Jorge Gómez you can see that the importance of this "family" quality is something that they're aware of and are actively cultivating.

... "these seven guys" ... That's right -- seven -- like Havana NRG, they're able to produce the full earth-shaking timba groove with the bare minimum in manpower -- only two percussionists, two horns, bass and piano. The coros are sung by the pianist, bassist and conguero, although they do have the luxury of a dedicated lead vocalist (Havana NRG's lead vocalist is also their lead trumpet player!).

Tiempo Libre's two-man horn section is overwhelming. Trumpeter Pavel Díaz (ex-Issac, ex-PFG, ex-Azúcar Negra, ex-Bamboleo) sounds like 3 trumpeters and he and saxophonist Luis Beltran played the best timba horn solos I've heard this side of Alexander Abreu and Hugo Morejón.

The rhythm section consisted of drummer (and master batalero) Hilario Bell, (who took over for Pututi II when the latter left the group after signing a major recording contract -- as a singer!), conguero Leandro González and bassist Tony Fonte. They drove the crowd into a state of delirium with a torrid succession of pedales and bombas and very creative and well-rehearsed bloques. Even traditional fare such as Pare cochero turned into throbbing, gear-laden timba after the first 50 seconds.

Holding everything together was vocalist Joaquín "El Kid" Díaz -- a veteran of Manolín, Paulito, NG La Banda, and Danny Lozada. El Kid was in fine form, with some particularly well-developed guías.

cuban music, musica cubana
back: Hilario Bell, Leandro González, some random timba geek, Luis Beltran, promoter Ana Herrera, El Kid, El Sonidista (y qué sonidista!); middle: Jorge Gómez; front: Pavel Díaz, Tony Fonte
all photos by Tom Ehrlich

cuban music, musica cubanaSaturday, July 15, 2006 - Michel with Sergio Noroña & Papiosco -- I've finally gotten around to really studying Michel Maza's second CD and I love it. It's one of only three major timba recordings of Sergio Noroña --easily one of Timba's top 5 pianists. The other two entries in Sergito's timba discography are Michel's first CD, and Paulito FG's epic masterpiece Con la conciencia tranquila. Noroña was one of the most important reasons that this was PFG's greatest disc, as you can hear from these excerpts:

(from Con la conciencia tranquila)
1) Y san toma qué 1

2) Y san toma qué 2
3) Y ahora qué
4) No te lo creas

Noroña was brilliant on Michel's first CD, Fieeeesta!, but Que hablen is even better, thanks in part to the addition of the great ex-Klímax conguero, Jorge Luis Torres "Papiosco". Here are some excerpts which showcase the talents of these two timba masters as they accompany one of Timba's greatest vocalists.

(from Que hablen los habladores)
1) El coleccionista
2) La vida no es tan tan
3) Tú piensas
4) El loco 1
5) El loco 2
6) Que hablen los habladores

As you can hear, the album is hard-driving, beautifully recorded timba from start to finish, with Michel's incomparable lead vocals, perfect coros, and an interesting mix of new originals, re-arrangements of the staples of Michel's live show, and re-arrangements of Charanga Habanera and Manolín classics. All in all, one of the most enjoyable releases of the decade.

Friday, July 14, 2006 - Tiempo Libre hits the Bay Area and Seattle! -- The Grammy-nominated, Miami-based timba band Tiempo Libre is touring the West Coast this week, with Joaquín "El Kid" Díaz on vocals, the phenomenal Hilario Bell on drums (also a batá master), and a supporting cast of some of the best musicians in Miami. In fact, they'll even be playing Kuumbwa Jazz Center, a mere 10 minutes from timba.com's West Coast Corporate Headquarters (my garage). See you there!

July 15-16
California World Fest
Grass Valley, CA

July 17
Kuumbwa Jazz Center
Santa Cruz, CA

July 18
Triple Door
Seattle, WA

July 19
Oakland, CA

And in Miami:
Tomasito Cruz and the Cuban Timba All-Stars
Tuesday, July 18
Arturo Sandoval's Jazz Club

Thursday, July 13, 2006 - Azúcar Negra & Charanga Habanera -- We finally have a long-awaited update from Michelle She's got a Charanga Habanera concert report from Claudia D'Ammassa, tour info for Pupy & Los Van Van, and all the latest on Azúcar Negra and their upcoming concerts, at which they'll be selling copies of their new CD, Toque natural.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006 - En frecuencia: Lo último sobre Maikel Blanco, Manolito & Bamboleo -- En frecuencia has the latest on Maikel Blanco's new CD and the super-slick "Knock Out" DVD -- a "battle of the bands" between Bamboleo and El Trabuco. It has the best technical quality of any Cuban music DVD I've seen -- stunningly clear video and pristine audio - it also has a separate audio CD and lots of interview footage in addition to the concert. My only complaint, of course, is that like all "professional" videos, the camera jumps around so fast that it's not very useful for seeing what any given musician is playing. The Bamboleo footage is interesting in that it has only two percussionists, both of whom have departed: Duñesky Barreto on congas, and Hedi Montalbán ("Tato") on drums & timbales. This is the rhythm section that Kevin Maestro was raving about last year. Tato is now in Miami. Bamboleo has two promising new singers -- Yuleydis Olazábal and Ronnys López Salas.

Monday, July 10, 2006 - Study Percussion in Havana & Matanzas -- A pair study courses to Havana & Matanzas, including the Havana Drum Festival, is being organized for late October by Chuck Silverman, who's been doing this for years and is heavily connected with everyone from Giraldo Piloto to the folkloric masters in Matanzas. Chuck is also the author of perhaps the best method book I've ever read, in any genre, "The Funkmasters", a study of the history of James Brown's rhythm sections that's so instantly addictive that it completely distracted me from Timba for over a month! But I digress. If you've never been to Cuba and you want to be housed, fed, and hand-delivered to the top drummers and best concerts, this is the way to go. And you might even pick up a few Clyde Stubblefield grooves while you're at it. The two week course begins October 15, and the one week course begins October 20th. Click here for more info.

Saturday, July 8, 2006 - Rest in Peace - Israel Kantor (1949-2006) -- Israel Kantor Sardiñas sang with Los Van Van in the early 80's before coming to Miami where he was one of the most important and beloved musical figures from his arrival until his recent tragic death. He will be sorely missed. Here's an excellent biography, discography and eulogy by Walter Magana. (en español)

cuban music, musica cubanaFriday, July 7, 2006 - Oh My God! You've Got To Read This Book! -- Yes, I know it's been out since 2004. I bought it as soon as it was released, but when I realized that it was 700 pages long and stops in 1952, twenty-seven years before "the dawn of timba" ... well ... I decided to wait for Volume II. Besides, I thought, I really need to finish the book I'm supposed to be writing on Timba rhythm sections. Well, it seems this endless study of Timba rhythm sections keeps dragging me further and further into the past, and when I found myself venturing deep into the bowels of the 20th Century to find the roots of Bamboleo's mesmerizing motivo gear, I decided it might be time to crack the cover of Ned Sublette's massive treatise.

This brings us to the "Oh My God!" part of the post. First of all, Ned Sublette, primarily known to me as a singer/musician whose record company released NG La Banda's En la calle and most of the best recordings of Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, turns out to be an insanely great writer. Halfway through the preface I was completely hooked, and I don't hook easily. These days I only stop listening to music to read a book about once a year ... or less. Second of all, the book is only nominally about "Cuba and its Music". It's actually more of a history of mankind and its music, told from a Cuba-centric point of view.

Stop whatever you were doing and go read this book!

Monday, July 3, 2006 - En frecuencia Update -- En frecuencia has a review of Manolín's ongoing Friday night concert series at Club Aché in South Beach's Hotel Versailles. He's been reunited with Victoriano Nápoles, one of the funkiest bassists on the planet.

cuban music, musica cubanaSunday, July 2, 2006 - Cuban Timba All Stars at Sandoval's July 4th ... Tomás Cruz & The Cuban Timba All Stars will play at Arturo Sandoval's Jazz Club in Miami this Tuesday, July 4th. They'll also play there on the 18th of July and the 29th of August.

... and in SF in August with Manolín! -- Three dates have already been confirmed for CTA in San Francisco with special guest star, Manolín, el Médico de la Salsa. Tomasito and drummer Reinier Guerra were of course the rhythm section for Manolín's epic double live CD, El Puente. (photo: Tom Ehrlich)

cuban music, musica cubanaAugust 25th, 2006
The Independent,
San Francisco

August 26th, 2006
Roccapulco ,
San Francisco

August 27th, 2006
Café Cocomo,
San Francisco

(photo: Peter Maiden)

cuban music, musica cubanaSaturday, July 1, 2006 - Ahí-Nama Records to Release Mamborama III in the USA! -- Bill Wolfer's second Mamborama album was nominated for a Cubadisco award (and that's no small feat for a Yuma ... or a Cubano for that matter). And the third CD, Directamente al Mambo is a lot better, featuring the usual brilliant rhythm section and singers Carlos Calunga, Roberto Van Van and Tony Calá.

So far it's only been available in Europe, but will be released in the US on July 18th by Jimmy Maslon's Ahí-Nama Records, which released Issac's La fórmula, El médico's Para mi gente and the first four Bamboleo CD's..

While you wait for the 18th, check out these great clips:

Bailarina - clip 1
Bailarina - clip 2
Puro y Temba

We're also expecting some updates soon on Bill's recently-neglected Mambo Blogorama.

cuban music, musica cubanaWednesday, June 28, 2006 - La Charanga en Bilbao, España el Viernes! -- David Calzado y La Charanga Habanera en Bilbao, 30 de junio. Para más información, haz clik aquí.

También hay un nuevo artículo sobre la CH en el sitio mundocubano.com.

Festa Tropical Latino en Turin, Italia -- Con Bamboleo, Paulito FG, Issac Delgado, La Charanga Habanera, Pupy y Los Que Son Son, Yumurí, NG La Banda, y más. Michelle White tiene más información aquí.

NEWS FLASH! -- Cuban Timba All Stars with special guest Manolín, el Médico de la Salsa. Coming to California in August -- stay tuned for more details soon.

cuban music, musica cubanaFriday, June 23, 2006 - Juan Tomás Reviews CTA -- In yet another En frecuencia update, we finally get Juan Tomás García's long-awaited review of the June 6 CTA concert at Arturo Sandoval's. It look like the group will be playing there twice next month on July 4th and 18th. The article also includes links to video clips from the California tour.

En frecuencia also has the latest on Elain's concert tonight, the Canadian tour of Maraca y Otra Visión, Azúcar Negra's new CD, Monica Pututi's new group, and much more.


cuban music, musica cubanaMajela Reviews Calixto Oviedo y Latin Train -- (en español and English) Calixto's latest incarnation of Latin Train brings him together with another of the most important Cuban percussionists, the great Pepe Espinosa who has played with Azúcar Negra, Bamboleo, Danny Lozada, Klímax, Cubanismo, and Juan Ceruto. Also featured is the incomparable trumpeter and singer Alexander Abreu. Check out Majela's review - with lots of photos!

cuban music, musica cubanaWednesday, June 21, 2006 - En Frecuencia Updated -- click here for the latest on Elain's gig this Friday with Omar Hernández.

Por primera vez en concierto Elain y Omar Hernández (productor y bajista) se presentan este viernes 23 de Junio en el Café Nostalgia.

10:30 pm / Café Nostalgia
34 Street entre Collins Ave. y Ocean Drive
Miami Beach

cuban music, musica cubanaSunday, June 18, 2006 - Keeping Up with Los Pututi -- In yet another update to En frecuencia, we learn that Monica Pututi, (aka Monica Arce, the wife of Alexis "Pututi I" Arce), will be at Arturo Sandoval's Jazz Club this coming Tuesday.

Arturo Sandoval Jazz Club
$10 cover for each show / 8:30 and 10:30
Deauville Beach Resort
6701 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33141
advance tickets

Monica is a great singer in her own right who's been a mainstay of the Miami scene for years, working with Luis Enrique and others. The band, along with Pututi I on drums of course, features the incredible horn section of Carlos Puig on trumpet and CTA's brilliant arranger and saxophonist, Felipe Lamoglia.

Arturo Sandoval, the legendary ex-Irakere trumpeter, is becoming a great patron of the younger generation of timberos, providing regular work for Monica, Tomasito Cruz's Cuban Timba All Stars, Tiempo Libre, and others as part of the ongoing "Latino Meets Jazz" series. The first set starts early: 8:30 p.m.


More on Los Pututi -- Meanwhile, Gabriel of Yemaya's Verse has several new reviews of Pututi III's work with Paulito FG and Pututi II has landed a new solo recording contract and has been replaced by Hilario Bell in Tiempo Libre -- who in addition to playing Yoshi's in Oakland on July 19th, has added a July 17th show in Santa Cruz, CA at Kuumbwa Jazz Center, a mere 10 minutes from the West Coast Headquarters of timba.com. See you there!

Thursday, June 15, 2006 - Nuevo CD de Azúcar Negra - CTA de nuevo en Miami - la CH y el Trabuco en Europa -- Revisa En frecuencia para leer todos los detalles y para esuchar el Hit Parade.

Monday, June 12, 2006 - Massive Updates from Michelle's Trip to Cuba!! Michelle has added a long series of updates:

Pupy y Los Que Son Son - concert report and video interview
The New Charanga Habanera Documentary
The New Riki Ricón CD
Grupo Dansón
Cubadisco 2006 Report
Los Oviedo
Tour Updates

Especially Check Out the Pupy interview, which contains all sorts of gems about the fascinating early history of Los Van Van. If you've never checked out LVV's early albums, you're in for a treat. Look for them as "Los Van Van: Colección". There are 15 pre-90's LVV albums in total, covering 20 years. By the time you get to the later volumes, they sound a lot more like the LVV of the 90's, but some of the earlier stuff is very different. Currently, I can't stop listening to Volume II & Volume IV.

Tiempo Libre in New York Friday:
Friday June 16
Celebrate Brooklyn Festival
Prospect Park Bandshell (Prospect Park West and 9th Street)
$3 suggested donation
Gates open at 6:30, Tiempo Libre will go on at 9:30
Also on the bill: Cuban Cowboys, Javier Garcia
click here more info

Tuesday, June 6, 2006 - MIchelle Checks in from La Habana! -- All sorts of news: Cubadisco winners, Issac & Maraca tour updates, and coming attractions such as interviews with Pupy and various Oviedos.

Yemayá con Paulito . Gabriel of Yemayás Verse continues with her "almost as good as being there" tales of timba obsession -- the latest entry is another rave review of El sofocador en concierto.

Did you make it to CTA? . Please send me email with your reflections.

Monday, June 5, 2006 -- Otra nueva edición de En frecuencia! -- Noticias de Los Cuban Timba All Stars, David Calzado y Manolito Simonet.


Clayton Leander of Third Wind Media checked in after hearing CTA rehearse and everything is in place for an incredible show which will be filmed for a documentary. Be part of it! Details below.

cuban music, musica cubanacuban music, musica cubanaCuban Timba All Stars - Tuesday June 6th! . Tomasito has put together a fresh new edition of CTA which will be playing a special concert at Arturo Sandoval's Jazz Club a week from tonight. The event will be filmed for a documentary by Third Wind Media. It's a small club, so get your tickets soon. Be a part of history!

June 6, 2006:
8:30 & 10:30

$10 cover (per show)
Arturo Sandoval Jazz Club
Deauville Beach Resort
6701 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33141
click here for tickets
cuban music, musica cubana

Wednesday, May 31, 2006 - En frecuencia's New Hit Parade ... En frecuencia has news on Pupy y Los Que Son Son's upcoming fourth album, and a new version of the Hit Parade that lets you listen to the latest Havana Top 10.

Tiempo Libre Saturday at Jazid in Miami -- They'll be playing material from their new album:

1342 Washington Ave, Miami Beach
(305) 673-9372

Manolín & NG Together in München July 23rd-- Manolín has his own separate band with Melón, Joel Domínguez and Alexander Abreu!

cuban music, musica cubanacuban music, musica cubanaDOUBLE CUBAN GRAND FINALE WITH JOSE LUIS & MANOLIN
Bayerischer Hof, Festsaal, München
Sonntag, 23. Juli 2006 Beginn: 21:00 Uhr
Bayerischer Hof, Festsaal
Promenadeplatz 2-6 - 80333 München
Festsaal, Bayerischer Hof, Info-Tel.: 089/13 999 339

Click here for more details

cuban music, musica cubanacuban music, musica cubanaTuesday, May 30, 2006 - Cuban Timba All Stars in Miami June 6th! ... Tomasito has put together a fresh new edition of CTA which will be playing a special concert at Arturo Sandoval's Jazz Club a week from tonight. The event will be filmed for a documentary by Third Wind Media. It's a small club, so get your tickets soon. Be a part of history!

June 6, 2006:
8:30 & 10:30

$10 cover (per show)
Arturo Sandoval Jazz Club
Deauville Beach Resort
6701 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33141
click here for tickets
cuban music, musica cubana

Monday, May 29 2006 - More Adventures in Havana --Yemaya's Verse is a goldmine of recent reviews of all the best bands in Havana. Gabriel has been updating it every few nights. The latest, "Heavana" reconfirms that Paulito is still tearing it up in concert with Pututi III and a hot new pianist. Michelle has arrived in Havana, but no concert reports yet.

Sunday, May 28, 2006 - Tony Pérez & Reinier Guerra in Miami Tonight ... at Café Nostalgia -- a great chance to see two timba masters stretch out in a jazz setting. Call 305-531-8838 for more information.

Friday, May 26, 2006 - Everyone's Gone to Havana ... except me. Michelle is there, Gabriel of Yemaya's Verse has added three more installments to her blog and we're awaiting reports from various other viajeros.

"Bring 'em on" -- Turns out even the Great Decider has admitted that that little bit of machismo was a mistake. This brings us one step closer to the truth of the matter -- that not bringing on the touring timba bands was the real mistake! Still think I'm nuts? Still don't believe in La Maldición de los Timberos?? Read 'em and weep.

Friday, May 19, 2006 - "Best.Gig.Ever!" -- So says Yemaya's Verse in reference to a concert by Manolito y su Trabuco yesterday evening at Café Cantante.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006 - Hot Video Clip! -- Check out this video clip from SF videographer Fourth Vision of the opening of a Cuban Timba All Stars show in San Francisco.

Monday, May 15, 2006 - Updates: Timba in Miami, Tiempo Libre, Musicians' Directory -- Lara Greene has updated her blog, Este lado del puente, as well as the Miami DJ's page, the Tiempo Libre section, and the personal pages of Pututi II, Tiempo Libre's bassist Tony Fonte, saxophonist Luis "El Rosca" Beltran, conguero Leandro González, and lead vocalist El Kid.

There's also a new interview with Tiempo Libre pianist Jorge Gómez on TL's upcoming third CD.

Sunday, May 14, 2006 - Manolín, NG, Issac -- Michelle has the latest on Issac's European tour and a reunion of Manolín & NG La Banda. El Tosco discovered Manolín, gave him his famous apodo, "El médico de la salsa", recorded one of his early hits, Vuela paloma sin niedo, and produced his first album. In fact, if you listen carefully to Manolín's singing on the Aventura loca album, you can hear him occasionally imitate El Tosco's vocal phrasings. Later when Manolín's lyrics about reconciliation with the Miami Cubans got him barred from forming his own band, Tosco, and later Paulito, arranged concerts where Manolín, as a músico invitado, could perform a set of his songs with their bands (it was usually not much more than a super-long, poorly-rehearsed version of La bola, but ... it was a nice thought). In fact, it was with both El Tosco and Paulito that Manolín played his final gig in Cuba at La Tropical in April of 2001, where his impromptu version of El puente resulted in him making an abrupt and permanent departure from the island. In any case, if you can make it to Munich this July, you can hear the latest collaboration of these two brilliant, historic, and infuriatingly crazy icons of Cuban music.

Thursday, May 11, 2006 - Vamos a jugar a lo veinte nueve -- 29% -- viva la maldición - Hell hath no fury like the wrath of a timbero scorned.

Summer Tour Schedule Heating Up -- Michelle will be updating the TOURS section frequently as we get closer to summer. The latest new dates are for Osvaldo Chacón and La Barriada.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - Audio Clips from La Tremenda -- Michelle has audio links to two new songs from this Swedish Timba band, feature ex-Klímax singer Lezmer Solenzar. There's some very nice creative stuff here -- and very well sung, played and recorded - check it out!

cuban music, musica cubanaSunday, May 7, 2006 - New Latin Jazz CD w/ Alain, Melón & Pico -- It's apparently only available in Europe, but here's a new Latin Jazz CD reuniting bassist, pianist, and drummer (and key composer/arrangers) of Issac Delgado's phenomenal 1997 band: Alain Pérez: En el aire. If anyone can get a copy, please email and tell us how it sounds.

Saturday, May 6, 2006 - Paulo con Pulse! -- As anyone who's read my rantings knows, I think the Paulito FG band of the late 90's was one of the two or three greatest bands of all time, and that Paulito himself is perhaps the most talented timba singer. On the other hand, I've been extremely disappointed with his music since he parted ways with Juan Ceruto, Yoel Páez, Joel Domínguez, Tomás Cruz, Yaniel Matos, Alexander Abreu, and the other creative geniuses who collectively played Lennon to his McCartney -- or vice versa. So that's my bias. Meanwhile, Gabriel of Yemaya's Verse, on holiday in Havana, is possibly the pickiest music critic in the blogosphere. When she tells me something sucks, I take it with a grain of salt -- she hates some of my favorite songs -- actually I don't think she even likes Lennon & McCartney -- but on the rare occasions that she actually does like something, it's almost invariably spectacular.

With that bizarre introduction, I give you Gabriel's Review of Paulito FG at La Makumba.

And don't fail to check out her hilarious Manolito review which follows.

Meanwhile ... Los Oviedo keep on coming. Now that Yulién is an elder statesman, the latest Oviedo prodigy, Yarién, is taking Europe by storm.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006 - Havana Update from Ivette -- Our long-lost intrepid Havana reporter Ivette León has resurfaced with this report on Pupy, Mayito, and the reguetón scene.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006 - The Long-Awaited Charanga Habanera Documentary! -- Filmmaker Jennifer Paz has been threatening to finish her brilliant Charanga Habanera documentary for as long as I can remember. It looks like that day is drawing near. Michelle (as usual) has the scoop.

And speaking of ... threatening to make good on something for as long as you can remember ... I've been ranting and raving about...

La Maldición de los Timberos

...since last fall and so far I've only got one measly indictment, and a 32% presidential job approval rating, to show for it. Pero prepáralos, friends and foes -- this may indeed be the week that the next shoe drops. At least that's what I hear from one of my favorite "roving" reporters.

Monday, May 1, 2006 - Eddy "Tato" Montalvan now in Miami -- According to Kevin Mastro, of Havanaway, Tato Montalvan, one of the most promising young Cuban percussionists, has left Bamboleo to move to The Timba Graveyard Miami to seek fame and fortune. Miami, a city in South Florida, is well known for having more brilliant Cuban percussionists, and less work for them, that any other city on Earth, but if Tato is as good as Kevin says he is -- he may just land a gig or two. Stay tuned. We'll be making a timba.com page for him soon, but in the meantime, you can contact him at tatomontalvan@yahoo.es.

Sunday, April 30, 2006 - Cuban Timba All Stars Video Clip -- Here's some great video from CTA's recent Northern California tour. Tomasito is currently on tour in Europe with Arturo Sandoval and will be looking for possible venues for a European tour.

Video courtesy of Latin/Jazz Mecca
Clayton Leander, Producer


New Photos from Patrick Bonard, Manolín in France, Pupy in Mexico - all in Michelle's Blog.

Thursday, April 27, 2006 - Tiempo Libre Saturday Night in Miami -- Miami is without a doubt the most frustrating city in the timbasphere. It has more timba musicians, more timba fans, and more hot local timba bands than any other city outside of Havana, and yet, the club scene never quite catches fire. What is wrong with Miami? Most clubs have pathetic little duos and trios singing along with canned music. What's that about? If you live in Miami, and you're sick of your town being the butt of the "timba graveyard" joke (and many others too numerous to mention), how about getting active and making a point of going to every local show until the scene starts to take on a life of its own?

If you missed Dany Lozada, your next opportunity to help Miami get a life is the performance of Grammy-nominated recording artists Tiempo Libre at Jazid Saturday night.

Saturday, April 29 -- 11 p.m.
Tiempo Libre at Jazid
1342 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach

Wednesday, April 26, 2006 - Danny Lozada in Miami Tonight? -- It might be tonight, Wednesday, or tomorrow night, so call first:

Kaffe Krystal
10855 S.W. 72 St.
Miami, FL
Tel. (305) 274-1112
Cover is $15

cuban music, musica cubanaThursday, April 20, 2006 - Elain on TV Friday -- Don't forget to tune in if you're in Miami. Click here for Elain's other performances this month. (photo by Peter Maiden)

Vienen los Pedritos -- (Calvo y Camacho) -- Michelle has the details.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006 - Seriously, you HAVE to check this out! -- CLICK HERE

Carnival de Cuba in London -- Michelle's blog has the story on one of the first festivals of the summer.

Transcultural Music Review -- Michelle also reports on this fascinating musicological site -- now added to our Links page

Tuesday, April 18, 2006 - Los Hermanos Arango - Second CD -- The Euphone site has the latest on the new CD. This is an amazing and unique group, led by timba.com award-winning bassist Feliciano Arango, formerly of NG La Banda. The group play a combination of Latin Jazz and vocal dance music with an afro-cuban folkloric rhythm section consisting of batás and chékeres.

Monday, April 17, 2006 - La sección de Revé - ahora en español -- Haz clik aquí.

Calle Real -- Hardcore homegrown timba from Europe. Michell has the latest.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006 - Speaking of Oviedos -- Calixto is in Italy recording a jazz album with guitarist Maurizio Brunod. It's called Gingembre Band.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006 - ¿Otro Oviedo? -- In today's blog, Michelle White brings us up to speed on the latest prodigy from the extraordinary Oviedo family: Yarién "El Yoruba" Oviedo, brother of Yulién and son of Calixto. Yarién, already a veteran of the Havana club scene, will be playing his first international show in Copenhagen soon.

Meanwhile ... in Santa Cruz ... Parallel 23 tore it up at Moe's Alley tonight, applying some of the many conceptual breakthroughs of the timba revolution to instrumental funk, with a surprise guest appearance from timba/folkloric vocalist Erick Barbería.

Mientras ... en el mundo del beísbol ... Deadeye Dick gets a taste of La maldición.

Monday, April 10, 2006 - Major En Frecuencia Update! -- click here for news on:

-- The new Tiempo Libre album
-- Issac, Pupy & Ceruto collaborate on 70's & 80's tribute album
-- Vanessa finally releases an album with her last name on the cover!
-- the debut CD of Maikel Blanco y su Salsa Mayor

TUESDAY NIGHT: Timba Funk in Santa Cruz, CA - The world is saturated with Latin Jazz of all types, but Parallel 23 is one of the first groups to play instrumental music based on timba, funk and afro-cuban folkloric music. Featuring four of the best musicians in the state - Colin Douglas on drums & timbales, Matt Lucas on congas and batá, Jason Moen on piano and Sam Bevans on bass. They'll be at Moe's Alley at 9:00 Tuesday night. See you there!

cuban music, musica cubanaSunday, April 9, 2006 - Another Exclusive Clip from Mamborama III -- Click here for our growing collection of previews from Directamente al Mambo, the soon-to-be-released followup to the Cubadisco-nominated Entre la Habana y el Yuma. Today's addition is Puro y Temba, co-written by Bill Wolfer and Sixto "El Indio" Llorente of Manolito y su Trabuco, and sung by Roberto Van Van. And in case you missed it, last week we featured two clips from Bailarina, sung by Carlos Kalunga (clip 1 - clip 2)

¡Tremenda Maldición! - I ain't superstitious or nuthin' but - I'm just sayin'... El Chimpancito's approval rating was at 90% when he decided to outlaw entry visas for touring Cuban musicians. Coincidence you say? I say ten cuida'o con la maldición de los timberos!

Saturday, April 8, 2006 - Azúcar Negra's Anniversary -- Michelle has the details on AN's 8th birthday.

Thursday, April 6, 2006 - Braily Ramos pages updated -- Best known for his trombone work with Manolín and The Cuban Timba All Stars, Braily Ramos is also a great singer and songwriter. He wrote two of the songs that Yordamis Megret sang with CTA on their recent West Coast tour. You can hear short excerpts of about a dozen of Braily's compositions on his newly-updated canciones page.

New Singer for Cuban Timba All Stars -- Joining the afore-mentioned Yordamis in the CTA front line will be Adonis Puentes. We'll have a whole section on Adonis and his brother Alexis soon.

DJ Gary Domínguez Reviews Calixto's Way -- Michelle has the details.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006 - Paulito Recovering Well From Recent Accident -- Paulito has contacted Michelle to confirm that he did indeed have an accident, but that he is recovering well and will return to la pelea soon.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006 - Best Albums of 2005, Pt. 2 -- Yemaya's Verse has the second installment if you haven't seen it yet. We're trying to talk her into also reviewing Tirso Duarte's new CD, which is now available and reputed to be fantastic.

Monday, April 3, 2006 - Elain Updates -- Popular Miami singer/songwriter/bandleader Elain Morales will be singing on two different television shows and a playing a concert later this month. Click here for the details.

Sunday, April 2, 2006 - En frecuencia Update -- Click here for Charanga Habanera's new DVD, Pedro Calvo's new album, Envidia Records, and the scoop on an untrue rumor from Tampa about Paulito & el Médico.

Maykel Blanco and Salsa Mayor ... are on the rise in Havana. Michelle has the latest, with photos from Cristian Muñoz.

Thursday, March 30, 2006 - Exclusive Clips from Mamborama III -- The third Mamborama album is coming out soon. Click here for two exceedingly cool clips from Bailarina, featuring Carlos Kalunga (ex-Klímax, ex-Manolito) on vocals.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 - Manolito Cover Story -- Manolito Simonet has made the cover of the debut issue of a new Latin music magazine. Michelle has the details.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006 - More Scoops from Michelle -- Check out the latest update to Michelle's Blog for news on Chispa y sus Cómplices, Mamborama's new CD, and Yulién Oviedo's new group & CD. It's not timba, and Yulién doesn't play percussion (hmmm...), but with that kind of talent, anything he does is worth a listen. For a glimpse into the rhythmic mind of Yulién Oviedo, check out Conversations in Timba.

Monday, March 27, 2006 - Issac & Bamboleo in Switzerland - Riki Ricón's new CD - Azúcar Negra's New Look -- all in Michelle's Blog.

Saturday, March 25, 2006 - Timba Flashback - DAN DEN 1991- It was 15 years ago this spring that Dan Den played an explosive concert at PabExpo in the suburbs of Havana. Click here to check out No me carezcas.

Miércoles, 21 de marzo, 2006 - En frecuencia - El nuevo CD de Pedrito Calvo y una compilación del sello Envidia con nuevas pistas de Tirso y Mango por Charanga Forever ... y mucho más! - haz clik aquí

Tuesday, March 21, 2006 - Pupy's New DVD - described as "a walk through Pupy's life" - which would be a walk through the last 40 years of Cuban music history. Michelle has the details.

Soon-to-be-released Manolito CD may be his best - Comunícate is killing me! Check out En frecuencia for more preview clips (scroll down to January 6).

Monday, March 20, 2006 - Los Van Van on Fire Again!: Why does everyone have to take me so literally? Michelle has the details - and the updated tour schedule -- including TONIGHT at La Rumba in Milan, Italy.

Saturday, March 18, 2006 - More True Confessions of Desperate Timberos:

Bill Wolfer - Los Angeles, CA
Linda Rodríguez - Boston, MA

New Tom Ehrlich Photography Section - Tom Ehrlich joins Peter Maiden and Cristian Muñoz as our three most prolific contributors.

cuban music, musica cubanacuban music, musica cubana Yuri Nogueira - I've reached the Trabuco section of myupcoming treatise on timba rhythm sections, so excuse me if the updates are coming a little slow. My head is spinning with great music. Most people think of Marcando la distancia and Llegó la música cubana as Manolito's first hits and are much more familiar with his more recent work, but the first few albums are loaded with neglected treasures, and one of them is Yuri Nogueira, an incredible drummer from the same generation of ENA graduates that produced Alain Pérez and Los Pututi. I've updated Yuri's page with everything I've been able to learn about him. If you have any further information about Yuri, or about the early history of Manolito, please, please, please email me! I'd also like to track down his predecessor, Carlos Rodríguez.

Yuri currently lives in Madrid, and interestingly, Manolito just played there last night. If you were in attendance, please email me! [Later - oops - well-placed sources inform me that the Trabuco-Madrid gig fell through and the group is already back in La Habana].

CONCERTS TONIGHT ACROSS THE GLOBE: Tiempo Libre in Wisconsin, Los Van Van in Belgium, Adalberto Alvarez in Denmark, Latin Groove Orquesta in Sweden & Denmark, and, we think, Dany Lozada in Miami - call (305) 444-0240 or 305-604-8688 to confirm on Dany.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006 - Timbaholics Anonymous Continues:

Curtis Lanoue - Miami via St. Louis
Marlon Morales - Union City.
Timico - Sacramento, CA
Eddie Rodríguez
Michael - San Diego, CA

Yemaya's Verse Reviews the Upcoming Manolito Album: click here for a great read.

Adalberto Alvarez sy su Son in France: click here

Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - Los Averhoff at Nostalgia: Carlos Averhoff Sr. & Jr. -- two great saxophonists who played with Issac (Sr. also played with the original NG) -- will be a Café Nostalgia in Miami on Sunday, March 19th -- call 305-531-8838 for more info.

Monday, March 13, 2006 - New Feature - How Did You Get Into Timba? - We're asking readers to write us at kevin@timba.com and submit their personal stories about how they became timba fans. Our first story comes from someone who helped ME get into timba, Curtis Lanoue. Send your own stories by email and we'll publish them. Escribe tu historía en español si prefieres.

Nueva Sección - Cómo empezaste a escuchar Timba? - Estamos pidiendo que ustedes nos escriban a kevin@timba.com y que nos manden sus historias personales sobre sus introducciones a la timba. Nuestra primera historia viene de alguien que ayudó con mi propia introducción a la timba, Curtis Lanoue. Mándanos sus historias por email y las publicaremos.

Maraca's 2006 Cubadisco Nomination - click here

Sunday, March 12, 2006 - El Médico in Miami - Check out these new photos of Manolín's set at La Festival de la Calle Ocho by Jacira Castro of salsapower.com. Founding bassist Victoriano Nápoles is back, along with Chaka, Luis, Jeáns, Polledo, Niche and Petaca.

Saturday, March 11, 2006 - New Singer for Azúcar Negra - NG in Italy - Michelle has the scoop.

Friday, March 10, 2006 - LVV & Michel in Europe - Check out Michelle's latest two posts. Los Van Van is clearly on a major hot streak and Michel & Tirso are apparently going to Italy without their entourages.

Braily Ramos - I discovered this extraordinarily talented timbero during the CTA tour. At the frothy height of Médico-mania, Manolín decided to add a trombonist and Braily got the call. He recorded on Manolín's final cuban CD, Jaque mate, and then relocated to Miami, along with Los Pututi, during the famous 1998 tour. Since then, he's played with everyone from CTA to Celia Cruz to Gloria Estefan and has developed into an exceptionally good composer, singer, and arranger in his own right. Our new Braily Ramos section has multiple audio examples of his singing and songwriting, photos, and biographical info. These clips sound like moña, but they're extremely well-written moña, and ideal timba cuerpo material, as evidenced by the recent CTA tour, when two of these songs were turned into powerhouse timba vehicles for Yordamis and Elain.

Thursday, March 9, 2006 - SCIENTISTS REPORT SIGNS OF INTELLIGENT LIFE IN SOUTH FLORIDA!- Lara has posted updates for her "Este lado del Puente" blog in the Timba in Miami section, Elain, Tiempo Libre, and Manolín.

Meanwhile, still in Miami ... Duniel was blown away with Dany Lozada's latest shows and expect him to keep playing at Aché every Saturday - $10 for ladies; $20 for guys. If you want to hear the original uncensored version of Charanga Habanera's legendary "Mango" song, this is your chance. Manolín is at the same venue on Fridays. SUPPORT TIMBA IN MIAMI!!

Tuesday, March 7, 2006 - FAQ de LVV - Everything you always wanted to know about Los Van Van but were afraid to ask. Is Juan Formell still touring with the group? When's the next album coming out? What are they playing on their current European tour? When will LVV return to the US? Michelle has the answers.

cuban music, musica cubana

Havana NRG en La Habana - The multi-talented Mariel Suárez of the Texas-based timba group Havana NRG was in Cuba recently and sat in with el Trabuco ... on two instruments!

cuban music, musica cubana

Monday, March 6, 2006 - Entrevista con Michel Maza y Tirso Duarte! - Linda Rodríguez has submitted the following fascinating video interview with Michel & Tirso. En español. Two of the greatest charangueros -- together again.

Even if you don't speak Spanish, check out question #14!

cuban music, musica cubanaThursday, March 2, 2006 - An Avalanche of Updates! - Where to start?

Dany Lozada Video Clip - These video highlights from a recent Miami show are part of a huge update to En frecuencia that's not quite ready -- keep checking the En frecuencia link - it should be up later tonight.

El Médico de la Salsa & Los Van Van this Friday - Lear Jet owners will have a tough choice on Friday. Fly to Stockholm to dance with Michelle at the Los Van Van concert? Or will it be Miami to see El Médico?

It looks like ... knock on wood ... there's going to be a steady stream of timba concerts in Miami at:

Club Aché
Hotel Versailles
3425 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL
(305) 444-0240 or 305-604-8688

Manolín will be there this Friday, and apparently every Friday for a while. According to Duniel & Juan Tomás, there's also a good chance that Dany Lozada (pictured above) will be playing regularly on Saturdays. If this keeps up, start fryin' them maduros -- I'm moving to Miami!

UPDATE - Dany Lozada WILL be a Club Aché this Saturday at 11:30 p.m. and it's LADIES FREE, and only $20 for other genders.

Lara Greene's Mini-Review of Club Aché:

"This is a pretty cool venue – large dance floor, plenty of tables (multi-leveled, so you can see even if you're in back), and a great price for Miami Beach. Manolín played there last weekend, and it was one of the more successful shows I've ever seen him do in Miami, in terms of attendance and audience vibe."

More Manolito from Michelle - Michelle has an interview with Manolito Simonet, news about Yulién Oviedo's new R&B video, and the latest on the European Los Van Van tour that begins tomorrow, May 3, in Stockholm, Sweden.

Top Timba Albums of 2005 - Ranked and reviewed by Timba in Havana's Martin Karakas.

The Return of the Mambo King - Bill Wolfer played me a taste of Carlos Calunga singing a very interesting new song co-written by Bill & El Indio for the upcoming third Mamborama CD, Directamente al Mambo. It all done except for the artwork and the final mastering. We hope to have clips soon. Also featured are Roberto Van Van, Alexander Abreu, Tony Calá and Roicel Riverón, to name just a few. Also, some young upstart flautist named El Tosco. Never heard of him, but Bill seems to think he can play.

Cuban Timba All Stars Demo Video Coming - The CTA tour got everyone, including the musicians, so fired up that they're producing a demo DVD package for future tours. We hope to have a video clip for you here soon, and even sooner, we'll have another large batch of photos by Tom Ehrlich from the final show at Café Cocomo. Email for bookings.

cuban music, musica cubanaWednesday, March 1, 2006 - Michelle's Manolito Report is Up! - The concert report, new Musicians' Directory pages, the new bassist, the semi-new new singer, and release dates for the Manolito/Bamboleo battle of the bands DVD and the new Trabuco CD, which most agree is much hotter than the relatively tame Locos por mi Habana. Click here for the full story. And if you live in the Free World, click here for the rest of the tour.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006 - Post-Timba Depression - The final show at Café Cocomo was easily the best of the tour, but now, after hearing CTA 5 out of 6 nights, reality is setting in. I'm still stuck in California with no concerts on the horizon. Ugh. Time to check in with Michelle in Europe who's almost finished with her Manolito report and looking forward to Los Van Van. For me, it's back to the gear treatise. Did anyone catch Dany Lozada in Miami on Sunday?

cuban music, musica cubanaSunday, February 26, 2006 - Final Cuban All Stars Show Tonight at Cocomo - Check out these spectacular new Peter Maiden fotos from last night's packed show in Palo Alto. The group gets tighter and tighter each night. If you want to bring them to your neck of the woods, email for CTA's promoters.

CTA made the front page of the San Jose Mercury News Arts & Entertainment section and is also featured on their website.

Opening the grand finale of this mini-tour will be Avance, led by Bay Area icon Karl Perazzo.

Sunday, February 26, 2006:
Cafe Cocomo
640 Indiana St.
San Francisco, CA
(415) 824-6910
advance tickets

José Francisco Barroso -- the folkloric dance master we've been telling about -- has been nominated for the 2006 Isadora Duncan Dance Awards for Outstanding Achievement in the category of Individual Performance. This type of music and dance is the lifeblood and inspiration of timba. (Barroso's website)

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco
Tuesday April 25, 2006
Reception 6:00PM, Awards Ceremony 7:00PM
This event is free and open to the community

cuban music, musica cubanaSaturday, February 25, 2006 - CTA in LA - Kay Torres, of curuye.com, was on hand for the Cuban Timba All Stars last night and reports that the show went extremely well, with Carlitos del Puerto sitting in and member of Perú Negro in the house after their own earlier LA performance.

Back in NoCal, the band is gearing up for tonight's show at the beautiful Illusions Supperclub in Palo Alto:

Saturday, February 25, 2006:
Illusions Supperclub (The Edge) -
260 South California Ave,
Palo Alto, CA
( 650) 321-6464
advance tickets

...and the San José Mercury News will feature a major piece on the group in Sunday's Arts & Entertainment section, and also on their website.

If you want to hear more shows like these in the future, PLEASE make time to come to this show and support timba in the Bay Area. Havana is a unique city capable of supporting a scene where each player plays in only one band. Ultimately, that's why timba sounds as great as it does. The hard reality is that we Americans are not going to hear any of these bands live for the forseeable future and if we want to hear first-rate timba we're going to have to create a national timba scene that can support touring bands on an ongoing basis. If not, the members of CTA will be forced to go back to free-lancing. If you want to give this great band a chance to continue, find the local venues in your area let's see if we can keep this thing going. Here's the email for CTA's promoters.

Meanwhile, in Europe, Michelle is working on her Manolito concert report extravaganza and has news on Calixto Oviedo's return to Europe and upcoming shows with Alexander Abreu & Germán Velazco. And in Miami, Dany Lozada's show has now been scheduled for:

Saturday March 4
Club Aché.
Hotel Versailles
3425 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL
(305) 444-0240

Thursday, February 23, 2006 - More Cuban Timba All Stars Fotos -

cuban music, musica cubana
photos by Tom Ehrlich (broadband)

cuban music, musica cubana
photos by Peter Maiden

Thursday, February 23, 2006 - ¡Estreno! - The Cuban Timba All Stars played their first show last night at Angels in San José, mesmerizing all those present, especially yours truly. I can't tell you what a relief it was to hear the real thing live for the first time since 2002. Don't miss your chance to witness history.


Thursday, February 23, 2006:
The Independent
628 Divisadero Street
San Francisco, CA
(415) 771-1421

Doors 8:30 PM | Show 9 PM
advance tickets

Many photos are coming and will be added to the new CTA Fotos page. First to check in is timba photographer extraordinaire - Peter Maiden.

cuban music, musica cubana

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 - The best concert I've seen in years ... and it was only a rehearsal!

I wasn't the only one with a huge grin on his face. There was real joy on the face of each of the Cuban Timba Allstars as they rehearsed in San Francisco for their first Northern California tour tonight at Angels in San José. They seemed as thrilled to be playing real, hardcore timba as the handful of lucky onlookers were to finally be hearing it in the Bay Area after such a long and painful drought.

It was really an amazing experience to watch the complex elements of a timba show come together before my eyes. Every player in this group is so good that it all seemed effortless. Even in rehearsal, the intonation and phrasing of the horns and vocals was significantly better that the majority of recent live tapes from Havana. I was stupified by the professionalism of the horn section of Julio Díaz (Celia Cruz, Arturo Sandoval), Carlos Puig (Celia Cruz, Alain Pérez), Felipe Lamoglia (Gonzalo Rubalcaba), and Brailly Ramos (Manolín). Felipe and Brailly also contributed most of the arrangements. Lead vocalists Yordamis (Bamboleo, PG), "El Kid" (NG La Banda, Dany Lozada, Manolín, Paulito FG, Tiempo Libre) and Elain (Pachito Alonso) were also grinning from ear to ear as they took turns singing lead and perfecting their coro harmonies.

But of course it was the rhythm section that really made it clear to everyone in the room what we've been missing since the end of US timba tours in 2001. The whole room seemed to arc with electricity every time Tony Pérez (Irakere, Issac Delgado, Klímax) launched into a fiendish new piano tumbao and there's simply no better rhythm section in the world today than Tomás Cruz, Reinier Guerra & Armando Gola -- the same trio that recorded Manolín's historic El puente album. See you there!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006:
400 South First St.
San Jose, CA 95113

(408) 885-9588
advance tickets

MEANWHILE ... In Europe, where they have these timba concerts all the time (sigh), Michelle has the latest on the Manolito Tour and on a new DVD concert with Bamboleo & El Trabuco together on the same stage.

AND ... Dany Lozada is playing Miami on Sunday -- venue TBA -- so keep checking back with Michelle. With the 3 hour time difference, those of you with Lear jets may be able to catch Dany and CTA's Sunday show at Café Cocomo in SF.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006 - Cuban Timba Allstars Online Radio Interview & Press Release- Here's the press release. Link for interview coming soon. Stay tuned.

Sunday, February 19, 2006 - Havana Sightings - Reports from our well-placed moles in Havana:

1) Los Van Van is on fire
2) Haila's solo career has taken off big-time, with CH as her backup band.
3) Sur Caribe has an obnoxious new novelty song that's getting as much airplay as La vida es un carnival, Malo cantidad, and Mambo #5 got a few years back.
4) Juan Carlos González is alive and well - in Havana to visit family - but no new musical projects - playing his ass off though.
cuban music, musica cubana
5) Hunter S. O'Rama has lost 80 lbs., but none of his entrepreneurial spirit. His almost-completed new album apparently surpasses even its Cubadisco-nominated predecessor.
cuban music, musica cubana
cuban music, musica cubana

Saturday, February 18, 2006 - Aymee Nuviola at SOB's Monday Night! - Monday, Feb. 20 at 7:00 p.m. with DJ Gary Domínguez. Call 212-243-4940 or go to www.sobs.com.

Llegaron Los Cuban Timba Allstars! - The members have actually arrived in San Francisco and are preparing for shows on Wednesday, Thursday, (Friday in LA), Saturday, and Sunday:

cuban music, musica cubana

Wednesday, February 22, 2006:
400 South First St.
San Jose, CA 95113

(408) 885-9588
advance tickets

Thursday, February 23, 2006:
The Independent
628 Divisadero Street
San Francisco, CA
(415) 771-1421

Doors 8:30 PM | Show 9 PM
advance tickets

Friday, February 24, 2006:
Hollywood Park Casino
3883 W Century Blvd.
Inglewood, CA
(310) 330-2800
advance tickets

Saturday, February 25, 2006:
Illusions Supperclub (The Edge) -
260 South California Ave,
Palo Alto, CA
( 650) 321-6464
advance tickets

Sunday, February 26, 2006:
Cafe Cocomo
640 Indiana St.
San Francisco, CA
(415) 824-6910
advance tickets

Wednesday, February 15, 2006 - Calixto Oviedo in Boston & New York NOW! - Michelle's blog has the whole story. Also the details of the early return of Charanga Habanera to Cuba after their tour of Spain was cancelled and Azúcar Negra's latest new singer.

Monday, February 13, 2006 - Boston Update - Dance Party this Friday at Ryles with despelotedance.com.

cuban music, musica cubanaFriday, February 10, 2006 - Links Fixed for CTA Tickets - A lot of people have had trouble finding the tickets on ticketweb, so I've added more complete links. The problem was that the Independent SF concert had the keywords "Cuban Timba Allstars" and the others were "Cuban Timba Allstars".

In any case, this thing is really going to happen -- no visas to worry about, and people who have heard the band rehearsing in Miami are very excited -- as am I!

The weather has been great in CA lately, so make your travel plans now.

Here are all the California dates:

Wednesday, February 65, 2006 - Bebo Wins the Grammy ... otra vez!

Category 61 - Best Traditional Tropical Latin Album
Bebo De Cuba
Bebo Valdés
[Calle 54 Records]

"De la larga lista de cubanos nominados al premio Grammy, Bebo Valdés fue el ganador de la noche. Una vez más queda demostrado, no solo el virtuosismo de la familia Valdés sino también el valor musical de nuestras raíces. Después del Latin Grammy por Lágrimas Negras (2004, Best Traditional Tropical Album-Bebo Valdés y Diego El Cigala) se alza una vez más este pilar de la música cubana con uno de lo premios más significativos en las artes. Lástima que su trabajo anterior haya caído en el olvido, y como pasó con Buena Vista Social Club, necesite de la "ayuda" de un productor para que los cubanos volvamos a descubrir lo que por legado natural nos pertenece."

(crudely translated) Of the many Cuban nominess, Bebo Valdés was the big winner of the night, proving once again that it's not only the virtuosity of the Valdés family but also their devotion to the roots of their music. Having already won the Grammy last year for Lágrimas negras, this giant of Cuban music has once again won one of the most significant prizes in all the arts. It's sad that, like the Buena Vista Social Club, his work didn't receive such recognition earlier, but [Kevin's translation skills start to fail him] ... better late than never, eh?

Editorial comment: Awards are a good thing, but the proof is in the pudding. Just as Bebo and the BVSC are only now finally receiving the recognition they've long deserved, consider that the 1997 Grammy nominations failed to recognize Tremendo delirio, Con la conciencia tranquila, Te pone la cabeza mala, De buena fe, Juego de manos, Exclusivo para Cuba, or Yo no me parezco a nadie, but each of these masterpiece albums will have its day, long after the pop tripe of the day has been forgotten. Suggested reading: A Lexicon of Musical Invective.

Tuesday, February 5, 2006 - Massive En frecuencia Update - As I toil away here in Califiornia, faithfully chipping away at the massive task of deciphering the magnificent timba of the 1990's, the Miami duo of Duniel Deya & Juan Tomás García, and Michelle White in Europe, have their ears to the ground las veinte-cuatro horas, bringing you the revelations of the current decade.

En frecuencia has new audio excerpts from Paulito FG, Azúcar Negra, Sur Caribe, Carlos Manuel, Andy Montañez with Manolito, and others. In fact, if you scroll down through the vast expanses of En frecuencia and its archives, you can hear excerpts from every important timba release of recent years.

Meanwhile, Charanga Habanera is in the middle of a 3-month stint in Europe, and Michelle White has the play-by-play, including an interview with David Calzado and another with the brothers Mengual which is proving extremely useful to timba.com's ongoing study of timba rhythm sections -- to be published on line later in 2006.

Sunday, February 5, 2006 - Haila's Next CD - Like Diferente, Haila's next CD will be produced by David Calzado and feature her backup band will be essentially Charanga Habanera, but the good news is that it's rumored to be pura timba. Keep your fingers crossed.

Michel y Tirso - The collaboration that Martin Karakas wrote about in December between two of the most important ex-Charangueros -- and for that matter, two of the most important figures in the history of timba -- has apparently now evolved into a regular working band.

Daily Timba History Lesson: When the members of the original Charanga Habanera left David Calzado in the summer of 1998 to form Charanga Forever, Michel Maza, the son of Calzado's wife, Beatriz Márquez, was the only one to stay with the band. Calzado quickly reformed the group with Tirso Duarte playing piano, writing songs and contributing massively and brilliantly to the arrangements. Tirso wrote Charanguero mayor and Confianza for Michel. Charanga Habanera never recorded Confianza, but both Michel and Tirso have in their solo albums.

Michel didn't last long with the new band, leaving somewhere around the beginning of 1999. The unconfirmed rumor, ironically, is that a fight between Tirso & Michel led to his departure. When Charanga Habanera recorded Charanguero mayor, they split the lead vocal between five singers to cover Michel's wide vocal range. As time went on, Tirso went on to become one of the principal lead singers in CH.

Tirso himself left Charanga Habanera in January of 2001, and there are those who say that CH has yet to fully recover from that departure. After a brief stint with NG La Banda that produced no important new timba, Tirso began an extremely productive couple of years with Pupy y Los Que Son Son. Meanwhile, Michel started out on his own as a bandleader, after a very brief reunion with his ex-compay's in Charanga Forever, which did produce the timba classic El menor. Michel led several bands, but although he remained popular on the Havana club circuit, he lacked discipline as a leader and no significant timba came from those years. Meanwhile, Tirso left Pupy to try his own hand as a bandleader. He was able to develop a lot more original material than Michel -- some of it extremely promising -- but as a bandleader, he was very similar to Michel -- neither was able to keep a solid group with real creative chemistry together for long enough to reach the level he had reached under the guidance of established bandleaders David Calzado and Pupy Pedroso. Recently both Tirso and Michel have released two new studio albums each -- both very promising. Michel has used the rhythm section of Arnaldo y la Cosmopolita, including monstrous ex-Paulito legend Sergio Noroña on piano. The albums were great, but the live bands didn't feature the same high-calibre musicians and backup singers, so neither fledgling bandleader was able to reach that elusive "next level".

Continuing their parallel trajectories, both singers ran afoul of the Cuban authorites and had their bandleader licenses at least temporarily suspended. But the bottom line is, by hook or by crook, Tirso and Michel are working and they're working together.

Will they reach that "next level" and produce the fresh new timba masterpieces we're all dying to hear? Well, there are many factors that have prevented most of Havana's live bands from attaining the levels that were reached in the 90's. Among the biggest are:

1) lack of great songwriting and arranging
2) lack of great lead vocals
3) lack of top-quality (i.e. sufficiently-reimbursed) musicians and coro singers
4) lack of disciplined bandleaders who rehearse consistently
5) lack of cojones! Lack of the will to create hard-driving timba that equals, extends and surpasses the best timba that's been produced up to this point. The "somos lo que hay" attitude of the 90's -- forging ahead with exciting new music using all musical resources available -- has given way in many cases to feeble attempts at chasing pop fads and dumbing down Cuban music to try to reach a larger audience.

Let's just say that Michel and Tirso have a tremendous amount of #1, #2, and #5, but the lack of #3 and #4 leads to the inescapable conclusion, for the moment, given the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, that neither one should have ever left David Calzado!

Let's hope this new collaboration silences that painful but inescapable "comentario" once and for all.

cuban music, musica cubanaMonday, January 30, 2006 - Cuban Timba Allstars in Los Angeles & Palo Alto - A lot of people have written from Los Angeles and the good news is that The Cuban Timba Allstars will be playing Friday, February 24, at the Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood.

Another new show has been added in Silicon Valley at the Illusions Supper Club in Palo Alto.

Hopefully this will be the beginning of a North American tour.

Here are all the current California dates:

Wednesday, February 22, 2006:
400 South First St.
San Jose, CA 95113

(408) 885-9588
advance tickets

Thursday, February 23, 2006:
The Independent
628 Divisadero Street
San Francisco, CA
(415) 771-1421

Doors 8:30 PM | Show 9 PM
advance tickets

Friday, February 24, 2006:
Hollywood Park Casino
3883 W Century Blvd.
Inglewood, CA
(310) 330-2800
advance tickets

Saturday, February 25, 2006:
Illusions Supperclub (The Edge) -
260 South California Ave,
Palo Alto, CA
( 650) 321-6464
advance tickets

Sunday, February 26, 2006:
Cafe Cocomo
640 Indiana St.
San Francisco, CA
(415) 824-6910
advance tickets

Charanga Habanera in Europe - Michelle White was at the show in Sweden and interviewed DC and the Mengual brothers. Click here for the latest from Michelle, and here for the full tour schedule.

cuban music, musica cubanaViernes, 27 de enero, 2006 - Elain con los Cuban Timba Allstars! - Hacía rato que no estaba tan excitado como ahora. Tomás Cruz a formado una orquesta verdaderamente extraordinaria – The Cuban Timba All Stars (El Todos Estrellas de la Timba) – y ya tienen conciertos programados en California, así que marquen sus calendarios.

Hay varias razones por las que yo creo que The Cuban Timba All Stars va a ser la orquesta que finalmente traerá la timba verdadera a Los Estados Unidos. Primeramente, los músicos están dedicados a tocar timba de verdad, bien ensayados y con unos arreglos muy creativos, sin concesión a la comercialidad o a los bailadores “sin sabor”. Esta es la timba tocada por Paulito, Los Van Van, La Charanga Habanera en la década de los 90, cuando la timba estaba en pleno apogeo. No va a haber reguetón, cha cha chá, ni nada por el estilo... solamente timba dura! Tomás Cruz, Reinier Guerra y Armando Gola ya probaron en el disco El Puente de Manolín que ellos suenan tan bien, o mejor, que cualquier orquesta en la historia de la timba. Añadanle a esto la presencia del gran pianista Tony Pérez, uno de los creadores del nuevo estilo de tocar piano que abrió las puertas a la explosión de creatividad que ocurrió en la década de los 90. Finalmente, las voces están compuestas de tres de los más talentosos y carismáticos cantantes cubanos que están en E.U, Yordamis Megret, Joaquín “El Kid” Díaz y el más nuevo de todos Elain Morales. (Gracias a Juan Tomás para la traducción)

Friday, January 27, 2006 - Elain Joins the Cuban Timba Allstars! - Click here for their updated home page. This gives them a front line of three lead singers who are all bandleaders in their right. Click here for Elain's home page. There's also new tour dates in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles. Stay tuned for more details later tonight.

Eduardo Lazaga - The timbalero of the original Charanga Habanera and the son of the leader of the legendary Ritmo Oriental has surfaced in Spain. We'll have major updates to his home page soon. He's already proving to be a treasure chest of information on the history of la Charanga from 1991 to 1997. We have another long series of articles on CH and other groups coming in mid 2006.

Thursday, January 19, 2006 - TWO SHOWS ADDED FOR THE CUBAN TIMBA ALLSTARS! - Click here for their new home page. This is really getting exciting. And this is a gira sin visas! No government interference. All the musicians are already living here, so this one is really going to happen. And if you're not in Northern California, there's still time to book a cheap flight to the most beautiful city in the USA.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006:
400 South First St.
San Jose, CA 95113

(408) 885-9588

Thursday, February 23, 2006:
The Independent
628 Divisadero Street
San Francisco, CA
(415) 771-1421

Doors 8:30 PM | Show 9 PM

Sunday, February 26, 2006:
Cafe Cocomo
640 Indiana St.
San Francisco, CA
(415) 824-6910

Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - THE CUBAN TIMBA ALLSTARS! - This is the most excited I've been in a very long time. Tomás Cruz has put together a truly extraordinary group - The Cuban Timba Allstars - and they already have concerts booked in California. Mark your calendars:

cuban music, musica cubanacuban music, musica cubanaThere are several reasons why I think The Cuban Timba Allstars will be the band that finally brings the real thing to the United States. First and foremost is the rhythm section and its commitment to play real timba -- creatively arranged and well-rehearsed -- with no concessions to commerciality or braindead "slot dancers". This is the take-no-prisoners throbbing timba groove played by Paulito, Los Van Van and Charanga Habanera in the late 90's that blew the roof off of every US club that was lucky enough to present it. No reguetón, no chachachá and no Buena Vista Social Club cover songs ... real timba! Tomás Cruz, Reinier Guerra and Armando Gola have already proven, on Manolín's El puente, that they can lay down as exciting a timba groove as any band in history. Add to this the long-awaited return to timba of Tony Pérez, one of the inventors of the new way of playing piano that opened up the harmonic floodgates for the explosion of creativity that occurred in the 90's. And finally, a unique male-female front line comprised of two of the most talented, charismatic and attractive Cuban singers the US has within its borders, Yordamis Megret & Joaquín "El Kid" Díaz.

NYC Update - Click to your left on Timba in New York for the latest on the return of timba to SOB's with DJ Gary Domínguez and a new concert poster for Carlos Manuel's show on March 4th.

Monday, January 16, 2006 - Juan Tomás García on the Lozada show - "The show was awesome. The band was sounding tighter than last time." Hopefully we'll have another show to announce soon!

Geek Alert: With the help of Orlando Fiol, I'm deeply embroiled in doing a massive survey, attempting to expand the concept of gears in the music of Paulito FG to encompass the styles of all the major bands. I already have about 20 articles partially completed, but I plan to finish the project, rewrite everything, and publish it in finished form on timba.com as an "online book". I thought about doing it as a "real" book, but in a real book you can't do THIS.

So, if like me, you're a musician who's obsessed with understanding how your favorite timba arrangements are put together and how you can "try this at home" with your own band, mid-2006 should be a very interesting time to read timba.com! For non-musicians, I'm trying to make it as amusing as possible!

Manolito: I've been so deep in my cave that I've fallen behind on checking out the latest releases, but such unimpeachable sources such as Juan Tomás & Gabriel Wilder have made it abundantly clear that Manolito Simonet's new CD is the hottest thing to come out in some time. It even has guest performances from ex-Trabuqueros Calunga and El Gallo.

Sunday, January 15, 2006 - Politics as Unusual - In case you've recently been thawed out after 50 years in the deep freeze, it's definitely not "la última noticia" that timba fans and musicians are the innocent victims of an ongoing 46-year feud involving Fidel Castro, the hard-line Florida "exilio", and the dimwit they've helped to install in the White House. In an attempt to thumb his nose at Cuba in every way possible, Mr. Bush has stopped the cultural exchange that resulted in so many great Cuban concerts on US soil during the previous adminstration. Oh, you already knew that? Well then answer me this: Why is Pupy's latest European tour schedule being promoted, alongside various articles accusing Castro of assassinating JFK, by none other than Cuba Encuentro, one of the most vehemently anti-Castro websites in the world?

What I'm saying is ... it doesn't make sense -- if Cuba Encuentro likes Pupy (and what's not to like?), and George Bush's policy of refusing visas to Pupy's band was designed to please the likes of Cuba Encuentro ...

What say we all follow Cuba Encuentro's lead and give the musicians a break?

... sigh ...

So ... did anybody see Lozada's show at El Parisién last night or what?

cuban music, musica cubana
Saturday, January 14, 2006 - DANY LOZADA TONIGHT!

El Parisién
2901 SW 8th St.
10:00 p.m.
Sat. January 14th

Listen Up Floridians: Remember what happened the last time you hanging chads didn't take my advice. The NSA is probably tapping your phone right now for logging onto timba.com. Do not fail me again! If I don't get at least 20 email concert reports, my uncle Karl says he's gonna send you all to Gitmo. Hmmm... actually, do you think they have timba concerts at Gitmo?

Meanwhile: I have two very exciting rumors of good news -- one in Europe and one in the US -- but I've been sworn to secrecy. Stay tuned.

(foto by Gabriel Wilder of Yemaya's Verse)

cuban music, musica cubanaTuesday, January 11, 2006 - Ex-Cantante y Compositor de la Charanga Habanera-- con su Grupo en El Parisién - Miami - el Sábado, 14 de enero!!

Ex-Charanga Habanera Star in Miami this Saturday, January 14th!!

Dany Lozada was in some way the key figure in Charanga Habanera's masterpiece, Tremendo Delirio. In addition to singing brilliantly on hits such as Charanguéate, he wrote and sang Usa condón (2nd excerpt) and Qué quires de mí (beso de queso) as well as writing several of Michel Maza's best songs including Lo siento por ti and Dime si te quedarás.

After the legendary August 1997 concert on the Malecón, for which the Cuban government suspended La Charanga for 6 months, Lozada and Juan Carlos González formed their own group and quickly released one of timba's most brilliant albums, Tanto le pedí, featuring the massive hit Encima del boom.

cuban music, musica cubanaLozada is not only an extremely professional singer and energetic front man - he's also a very serious musician. Indeed, his long list of compositions for himself and others puts him in the company of Cuban songwriters such as Leonel Limonta, and Giraldo Piloto. He's also a perfectionistic bandleader and is determined to bring the Havana work ethic to Miami and form a band here which rehearses regularly.

If you live in Miami and if you care about live Timba - drop whatever you were planning on doing and get your sorry, timba-starved butt down to:

El Parisién
2901 SW 8th St.
Sat. January 14th

Listen folks, I've been to Miami's nightclubs -- it's a joke! -- they have a singer and a conguero playing along with a pre-recorded tape! It's no better than karaoke. If you want to have a real music scene in Miami you're going to have to go out to the shows when people put their money on the line to try to present a real concert. If you don't, there won't BE any concerts! Do I have to fly out there myself and drag each and every one of you to El Parisién or what? This is the real thing! Don't blow it!

cuban music, musica cubanaThursday, January 5, 2006 - Carlos Manuel in New Jersey - Andy Pérez, Alex Suvino, and DJ Gary Domínguez have put together a gala concert slated for March 4th in North Bergen, New Jersey, featuring none other than "El Malo Cantidad" Carlos Manuel. For more info, email Andy at aperez1026@aol.com

cuban music, musica cubanaEl Cuaderno Latino de la Salsa - Meanwhile, el mismo DJ Gary Domínguez has written a massive 587 page book with 100 biography/discographies, covering all the timba bands and all the great salsa bands as well. It's a veritable encyclopedia of Latin music. To purchase, contact Gary at garylatina@msn.com. (no business connection to timba.com)

Edward Machado In Spain - Probably the best young trombonist to come out Havana in the early 2000's is Edward Machado. He played brilliantly with both Paulito & Issac, and is now doing well in Galicia, Spain, where he recorded on Celia Cruz's final album, released posthumously. There are some nice trombone audio clips, arranged by Alain Pérez, on Edward's newly-updated webpage.


Tuesday, 22 March 2011, 07:32 PM