Cuba And Its Music - From The First Drums to the Mambo - Ned Sublette (2007)

Cuba and its MusicSaid to be the first volume of a presumably two-part story, but 12 years has passed since this one was published, so your guess is as good as mine on whether or not another will see the light of day. I can tell you that I would certainly be interested in reading volume two...

Cuba and Its Music is something of a history of the world inasmuch as it ends up pertaining to Cuban music and history. Starting in Africa and its crosstalk of influences with various colonial forces, the book slowly makes its way to Cuba and the myriad of influences that came to make up Cuba music in all its complex glory – from the Tainos, to the Spanish and French, and the constant influx of new influences coming from Europe and the various parts of the new world thanks to the bustling port life of Havana and Matanzas.

The book works its way through changui, tumba francesa, son, musica campesina, danzon, bolero, rumba, and any other Cuban genre one can brind to mind,  landing eventually midway through the twentieth century, covering a fair bit of back and forth with New Orleans music and American jazz, and ends up at the mambo, just before Castro’s revolution.

It pulls no punches in telling the often grim story that made Cuba and Cuiban music what it is today – the disturbing tales of slavery, endless amounts of unfathomable corruption and political upheaval, and racism that persisted in various forms well beyond the years at which this book concludes.

If you have an interest in Cuban music – or are wondering about the roots of jazz, rock and roll, the tango, salsa, and other forms of music and dance that have been influenced by Cuban music – this book is for you. Written in  a very readable, enjoyable style, Cuba and its Music is a 688-page tome, but well worth a read both for music and history fans alike. 
Los 4 – I just saw them perform live in Montreal! – have a great new album out, Con La Izquierda, here's a video for one of the best songs on the album, "La Habana Me Llama".
Los 4 - La Habana Me Lllama
  • Aug 30-Sep 8 - Festival de Salsa, Bachata et Kizomba de Québec 2019 in Quebec City - various parties and workshops, including 5 workshops by esteemed Cuban dancer and teacher Yeni Molinet the weekend of September 6-8. 
  • Sep 6 Rueda Congress - Bergen Norway
  • Sep 13-16 - Calle de Timberos in Wroclaw, Poland – impressive looking event with a concert by Barbaro Fines y su Mayimbe and lots of great teachers and workshops
  • Nov 7-10 - Havana en Belgrado - in Belgrade, Serbia - short event but with an extremely impressive roster of teachers including Jennyselt Galata Calvo, Yeni Molinet, FredyClan and other illustrious names in Cuban dance, as well as concerts by Maykel Blanco with Mayito Rivera and 2019 Cuba Disco winners El Niño y la Verdad. 
  • Nov 17-22 - Baile en Cuba – 6 days of workshops and concerts in Havana, with an unbelievable lineup of bands: Van Van, Septeto Santiaguero, Pupy, Adalberto Alvarez, Manolito Simonet, Haila, Maykel Blanco, Alan Daniel, Elito Revé, Havana D'Primera and Los 4. Includes 22 hours of classes at all levels with instructors from the top national schools of the arts ...
  • Dec 7-8 Casino Festival Barcelona - 2 days of workshops and parties in Barcelona
  • Feb 8-23 Rueda in Playa Del Carmen - very open-ended opportunity to do and learn rueda in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico with people from Boston Rueda
  • Feb 13-16 Salsa Rueda Festival - in San Francisco. The 2020 schedule is not up yet but you can see from the 2019 schedule that it will be an impressive program
  • Mar 29-Apr 5 2020 - Havana Dance Experience 2020 - Group from Halifax, NS going to Cuba for private classes and dancing. $1349 fixed price includes accommodations, breakfast, a SIM card, classes and taxi dancers as well as some daytime activities. Airfare, transportation and admission to dance clubs not included.  
  • Apr 20-26 2020 Ritmo Cuba – includes 7 days of workshops and classes (30 hours of classes I believe, with four tracks to choose from), tours, a pool party, a beach party, as well as admission every night to the best clubs in the city with top bands in Cuba
  • May 29-31 2020Rueda Fest - in Brighton UK - has some intriguing workshops on rueda in all kinds of funky formations and more
Of interest to our Halifax readers
  • Wed Aug 28- Free To Move on the Waterfront – free class 6pm-7pm, dancing 7-9pm (kizomba after 9) - Afro house class this week, the best and only social in the city for Cuban timba, also features merengue, bachata, etc
  • Thu Aug 29 - Haliente - salsa/bachata/etc social at the waterfront, 8-10:30pm
  • Sat Sep 14 - Son Latino Musica Cubana - at the Music Room, 7-9pm
That’s all for this week, thanks for reading!
Copyright © 2019 Gordon B. Isnor, All rights reserved.

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