Monthly Archives: May 2014

30.05.14 : Maykel Blanco – Bajito De Sal

Buenos dias a los todos!

Today I would like to present you a song by Maykel Blanco, that I have “rediscovered” lately, after it was laying dormant in my archive for a while 🙂

There exists a stereotype – if it’s a the song is romantic, it must be slow, very very melodic and have no energy or a strong rhythmic component.
This is mostly true of commercial western music, but untrue for Salsa music, especially coming from Cuba.

Some of the beauty of Timba is its complexity, its polyrhythmics, it having many layers on top of one another.
This is exactly the case for this song, from the album “Anda y Pegate”, but also for a large part of the more romantic Timba tunes.

This wonderful song is about love, or more accurately, about how one should express love, and do for their beloved one; “lo que ella quiera, havcelo!” or “si te pide ciello, hacelo! ” say it all, one the one hand, but on the other, the song is very rhythmic and has ever increasing energy is it advances from cuerpo to montuno, with mambos and gears.


23.05.14 : La Bola – Pa’ Que Me Criticas

Good day my friends!

I would like to present you with the band La Bola;
It is quite uncommon for a good Timba band to come from the USA, with most being mixed Cuban-American examples such as Mamborama.

This one is not “all American”, and is led by the wonderful Cuban pianist Ariacne Trujillo, which is nowadays a member of the Pedrito Martinez Group – this is an earlier project of hers, which although did not last until nowadays, was still wonderful, and produced fine Timba songs such as the one mentioned in this post.

The band is quite large, sporting 13 musicians including pianist, bass player, percussion, horns, guiro, flute and violin; Some of the musicians are Cuban, some are American.

The song I present here today, “Pa’ Que Me Criticas”, is originally by Dan Den, but received a big energy shot from La Bola, taking it to the more wild side of the Timba spectrum.


16.05.14 : Homenaje al Vanvanero mayor!

Good morning everybody.

As you surely remember, the great Juan Formell left us a little over 2 weeks ago, suffering from liver illness complications.

2 days ago a special homage song, titled “el vanvanero mayor”, was released.
It is performed by some of Cuba’s finest musicians of Formell’s days and nowadays, including Angel Bonne, Alexander Abreu, Pedrito Calvo, Mayito Rivera and others.

The song mentions the great contributions of Formell to Latin music, and also quotes many of Los Van Van’s songs.

So, let us listen, enjoy, and remember…

09.05.14 – El Ruso y Su Banda – Con Permiso Llegue Yo

Good day my friends, and happy VE day, day of victory over the Fascism in Europe, May 9th, 1945.

While looking for an interesting song for this week’s blog entry, I came across El Ruso y Su Banda, a nice band from Baracoa, Cuba.

Although not Russian, Eduardo Navarro Toirac was known in Baracoa as “el Ruso” for his European good looks and his Soviet like professionalism and discipline which he encouraged by personal example the groups he led over the years.

Coming from Baracoa, a city in the eastern Oriente province of Cuba, Eduardo, percussionist, lead singer, band leader and composer, started his musical career at 8 at the Ho Chi Min musical school in Guantanamo.
He later participated in various musical projects and groups, such as Las Camillitos, Group 467, Mereson, and Conjunto Campesino Guama, and Cuarteto Tropical.
In 1997 he formed his own group, el Ruso y Su Banda, playing both traditional and popular Cuban music.

Since then, the band has been playing Son, Bolero, Timba, Changui, Merengue, Kiriba, Nengon, and other Afro Cuban musical styles on their own, and along with such famous ensembles such as Original De Manzanillo, Son 14 and Compay Segundo.

The group released many singles and also a fine CD titled “a Las Cinco en la Manana”, from which this song, “Con Permiso Llegue Yo, is.


02.05.14 : Gracias Formell! R.I.P Juan Formell!

Today I bring very sad news… Juan Formell, founder of Los Van Van, one of the most influential personas in the history of Latin music in the XX and XXI centuries, passed away yesterday at age 71 from liver ailment complications, after a week long hospitalization if Habana.

Juan Formell was born in Habana, Cuba, on August 2nd, 1942.
By the age of 15, he became a bass player, and in 17 joined the band of the newly formed revolutionary police force in Habana.
During the 1960’s Formell played and composed for several bands, including Orquesta Peruchin, Orquesta Rubalcaba y la Orquesta del Cabaret Caribe.
In 1967 he joined Orquesta Reve, becoming musical director at 1968, and empowered by the newly available electric instrumentation, created a new musical style, Changui 68′.
In 1969, Juan Formell retired from Reve, and founded his own band, Los Van Van, creating yet another new musical style, Songo, which would later revolutionize Cuban music, and is the base of Timba.

Over the years Los Van Van included many key figures in Cuban music, some of which will form great bands of their own; Cesar “Pupy” Pedroso, Pedrito Calvo, Jose Luis “Changuito” Quintana, Jose Luis “el Tosco” Cortes, Mario “Mayito” Rivera and others.

The band quickly became the most popular in Cuba, and over the years released more than 25 albums and countless hits such as Te traigo, Chirrín chirrán, La Candela, Sandunguera, Que No Que No, El Baile Del Buey Cansao, La Habana Si, Anda Ven y Muevete, La titimanIa, El Negro Esta Cocinando, Temba Tumba Timba, and many, many more.

Over the years Juan Formell and Los Van Van received many awards in Cuba and abroad, including several Grammy awards, toured the world with concert tours, several of which were recorded on DVD, for example, the famous concert at Teatro Karl Marx.

Juan Formell was currently working on the band’s next album, “La Fantasia”, which will come out this summer.

In 1998 a homage album, “Gracias Formell”, came out, and included some of Formell’s most well songs performed by some of Cuba’s best singers and musicians.

The song I present you here tonight is “La Habana Si”, a Los Van Van classic from the 1980’s , sung by great Los Van Van (and former Pachito Alonso y Sus Kini Kini) singer Roberto “Guayacan \ Roberton” Hernandes in a new and exiting arrangement.

You can purchase the whole album following the link above.

Rest in peace, maestro Formell… your legacy will live forever in the hearts and minds of todos los amantes de la musica Cubana!