Entertainment

Afro-Cuban music

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Friday, September 22, 2017

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HAVANA Meets Kingston , a concept album marrying the sounds of Cuba and Jamaica, will be released on November 3 by VP Records/17 North Parade.

Produced by Australian Jake “Mista Savona” Savona, it will be released two years after he and a team of top reggae musicians visited the Cuban capital for recording sessions with some of Cuba's most revered exponents of the Afro-Cuban sound.

Famed drum-and-bass duo Sly and Robbie made the trip with Savona in June 2015, along with guitarist Winston “Bo Pee” Bowen and percussionist Bongo Herman. From the sessions come 15 songs including versions of Chan, Chan, El Cuarto De Tula and 'Candela, which first gained international acclaim in the late 1990s through the groundbreaking album/documentary Buena Vista Social Club.

Ronaldo Luna and Barbarito Torres, who played on that album, also worked on Havana Meets Kingston. They put their stamp on classic reggae songs like Marley's Rastaman Vibration (done as Vibracion Positive); The Congos' Row Fisherman Row; and 100 Pounds of Collie, which also features Turbulence, Randy Valentine, and Prince Alla.

A documentary capturing the recording sessions is slated for release in 2018.

“We are excited to be associated with this album,” said Randy Chin, president of VP Records. “It's a historical album with amazing production and talented artistes, making it a truly groundbreaking project.”

The Afro-Cuban beat has long been an inspiration for Jamaican musicians. Some of them, including saxophonists Tommy McCook and Roland Alphonso of The Skatalites, were born in Cuba.

During the 1960s, they incorporated the Cuban flavour of musicians Chano Pozo and Perez Prado in their ska and rocksteady productions.

Released in 1999, the Buena Vista Social documented American musician Ry Cooder's visit to Cuba, where he discovered and recorded some of the masters of Afro-Cuban music who were living in obscurity.

The film resurrected their careers, and they ended up performing in Europe, the United States and Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival as the Buena Vista Social Club.

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