Monthly Archives: January 2013

31.01.13 : NG La Banda – Santa Palabra

Good evening my friends!

Today I would like to briefly introduce the band which is accredited with the creation of Timba as a musical genre, back in the mid 80’s… yep, I am talking about NG La Banda and no other!

NG La Banda, which is mostly interpreted as “band \ group of the new generation”, is exactly that; a large group of the most talented young musicians of the day, who banded together to conquer the Cuban music scene, and will end up changing the world of Latin music forever!

In that time, in Habana, a group of talented musicians came together to form an “all star” orchestra; Tony Cala, the lead singer, came from Ritmo Oriental; Isaac Delgado, the 2nd lead vocal, from Pachito Alonso’s group; German Velazco from Orquesta Reve; Jose Manguia from Irakere; bnad leader and flautist Jose Luis Cortes played and written for Los Van Van… it also had some musicians from major Cuban jazz bands, such as Gonzalo Rubalcalba and Calixto Oviedo.

The musical style of the band wasn’t Son, or Rumba, Songo or Son Montuno, Jazz, or anything else which was defined… it was something new, and this vision of his Jose Luis Cortes called “Timba”.
Some years later, Jose Luis would say this in an interview:
“…I wanted to do something with the flavor of Van Van and the musical aggressiveness of Irakere…to give the same artistic and aesthetic value that we give to other great forms of music…” .

The band’s legendary album “en la calle”, created during 1988 and released in 1989, is considered a Timba classic, and just like Los Van Van, Irakere, and Ritmo oriental influenced most Cuban musicians in the 80’s (NG La Banda included), NG La Banda was the foundation for most new Cuban musicians in the 90’s and beyond…
Issac Delgado, Giraldo Piloto, Paulito FG, Manolin, and many others were with the band at one time or another, or were heavily influences by its work.

This time around the clip is not a “studio version”, but rather a much more powerful and interesting live show from 2008.

24.01.13 : Manolito y Su Trabuco – Tomalo Todo

Good evening all!

For this week, we have a more of a romantic song… Tomalo Todo, by Manolito Simonet y Su Trabuco.
This song is from their 2010 album, Una Vez Mas, and is a true classic of the salsa romantica genre, with the Cuban tough, of course, that is… a very nice song to start your salsa evening with, if you’re asking me.

The group was founded in 1993 by Manolito Simonet, a talented pianist, composer and arranger, who has been a leading member of Maravilla De Florida since the mid 1980’s.

Manolito’s band is a large one, even by Cuban standards, consisting of 12-16 members over the years; in this song, like in many others, one can clearly hear the vast knowledge Manolito has of the various genres of Cuban music, as well as his more traditional musical background in Maravilla De Florida… one can hear violins, flutes and cellos in many of the band’s musical numbers.
Nevertheless, Manolito y Su Trabuco have never left the top of the timba charts for almost 20 years.

17.01.13 : Maykel Blanco – Un Kilo

Good evening salsa & timba fans!

For this week I present you a song from the hot new Maykel Blanco y Su Salsa Mayor album, A Toda Maquina, which came out a short while ago.

For those who aren’t familiar with Maykel, he is one of the young talents of the current musical scene in Cuba, being a very able pianist, percussionist, composer, producer and band leader.

Learning to play the piano after being disappointed by arrangements he heard around him (as he describes it himself…), one can definitely hear his percussionist background in the style of keyboard playing he presents in all the songs performed by his band.

After a successful album with the band la suprema ley, Maykel decided to form his own band in 2005, la salsa mayor, which has by now released several top scoring timba albums, with A Toda Maquina being their latest.

10.01.13 : Ritmo Oriental – Yo Soy El Capitan

Hello all!
What great weather have we been having lately… rainy, windy and fresh!
Love it!

Well, back to business…
This week’s recommendation is of a rather short, bu very nice song; Yo Soy El Capitan, by Ritmo Oriental… This song is only 3 minutes and 37 seconds long, but sure packs some energy!

Ritmo Oriental is yet another wonderful, important, major Cuban salsa band.
It goes pretty far back – it was established in 1958 by musicians who broke off from Orquesta Reve, due to the fact they preferred charanga to changui as the main stylistic guideline.
Over the years the band released many hits, and was as innovative as Los Van Van, but in it’s own, less “wild” way; while Van Van experimented with crazy (and sometimes, quite bizarre) fusions of old and new, la Ritmo had a much slower, safer, pace, not straying too far at any given one time from their charanga (and later son montuno) driven style of playing, which can be heard today as well.
This gave the listeners a sense of the band still being there, doing what they know best and what the audience loves hearing, while still being innovative and interesting.
Although, unlike Van Van, la Ritmo doesn’t have a musical style named after it (as songo is after Vav Van), they were innovating a lot at the exact same period when Los Van Van were, and judging from the practice of “musical chairs” between bands (still common in Cuba today), it is quite possible that la Ritmo, Van Van, orquesta Reve, and some other major bands of the 60’s and 70’s contributed to one another in musical innovation and development of new styles of popular music.

Ritmo oriental is also the professional birthplace of 2 very important figures in Timba – Tony Cala and David Calzado, the 1st being the one of the earliest Timba singers, and the 2nd being a leading member (and nowadays, the band leader) of La Charanga Habanera.

Disfruten, y hasta pronto,

03.01.13 : Orquesta Reve – Matanzas Tiene La Llave

For the 1st recommendation of the new year, I chose one of the major Cuban orchestras, which has been leading the Cuban musical scene since the mid 1950’s, and served at one time point or another as a greenhouse for almost every notable Cuban musician since that time, including Chucho Valdez, Juan Formell, Cesar (“pupy”) Pedroso and Juan Carlos Alfonso, just to name a few.

Orquesta Reve, which had several names over the years (El Charangon del Reve, Elito Reve y Su Changui), reflecting the different “phases” the band went through.
It all started with a small charanga band at 1956, let by a young timbalero from Guantanamo named Elio Reve Matos.
His vision was to bring Changui music out of the countryside and into the mainstream, just like it happened with Son music several decades before that.

After only 2 years of work, some of the musicians left the band and formed one of their own; this first split (of many more to come) gave birth to another famous Cuban band, Ritmo Oriental, which I will tell about in detail in future posts to come (this band is also active today, BTW).

The next “sub set of talents” in Elio’s band were the folks who will split in 1968 to form Los Van Van; More talented musician came and went during the 1970’s, but only during the early 1980’s did the band, now named el Charangon, made it into stardom.

Yet another star, pianist and arranger, Juan Carlos Alfonso, will pass through the band, splitting off to form Orquesta Dan Den in 1988.

After the tragic death of Elio Reve in a traffic accident in spring of 1998, his sun, Elio jr (Elito), who has been playing with the band and arranging numbers since his later teens, has taken over as the manager, director and band leader, taking his father’s legacy into the 21st century.

Today Orquesta Reve is one of the major Timba bands in Cuba and world wide, mixing traditional Rumba, Son, and mostly, Changui, with the current sound of Cuban music, with most albums topping the charts; for example, their 2008 album “fresquesito” was among the top 10 albums of the 2000’s.

This partial chart, a courtesy of, can give you a sense of scale to why this band is considered to be a cradle of modern Cuban music…

The song I recommend here today is called “Matanzas Tiene La Llave”, and is about the great city of Matanzas, Cuba, which is a major center of Rumba.
The song itself has a Rumba intro, and countless Rumba elements.