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The Rough Guide to Cuban Rare Groove

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The Rough Guide to Cuban Rare Groove
The Rough Guide to Cuban Rare Groove


Quite a few compilations have mined the rich reserves of 1960s and 1970s post-revolution music from Cuba, with several concentrating on the areas of funk, jazz, disco and rare groove in general. Others have dug deep into the vaults in Miami, where a young generation of children of Cuban exiles created an exciting stew of rock, funk and Cuban styles. This collection aims to be different and digs deeper, serving as a rough guide to Cuban-flavored rarities made outside of the island in the post-Castro diaspora, by a mix of Cuban and non-Cuban musicians from yesteryear and today. There is a special emphasis on talented Cuban expatriates like vocalist/percussionist Willy Chirino, composer/arranger, bandleader and pianist Julio Gutiérrez, and percussionist/vocalist 'Manteca' (Lázaro Plá). We spotlight the influential Cuban label in exile, Gema Records, with eight old-school numbers, while several come from Europe: Pantaleón Pérez Prado working in Milan, and the Brussels-based Dutch bandleader Nico Gómez, born Joseph Van Het Groenewoud, who was so obsessed with Cuban music that he changed his name. Gómez is backed here by the stalwart Belgian studio band, Los Chakachas, of 'Jungle Fever' fame. The set is rounded out with contemporary artists based in France, New York, and Miami. In keeping with the rare groove label, most have not appeared before on other Cuban-themed compilations. As a child Wilfredo José 'Willy' Chirino came to the U.S. in 1960 as a participant in the infamous 'Operation Peter Pan' migration. The Grammy-winning Chirino has made a name for himself performing a mix of pop and salsa since the 1970s (sometimes with a political slant), but in the late 1960s he got his start in Gutiérrez's orchestra playing conga in New York and recorded some early boogaloo and psychedelic proto-salsa with Cuban band-leader Chico Oréfiche (featuring Colombian pianist José Madrid) in Miami in 1966, before going out on his own in 1974 and cutting a series of innovative records fusing soul, funk, disco and Cuban genres, something that could only happen in Hialeah, the Cuban enclave in Miami. A few numbers from this period are considered deep Latin funk 'Holy Grail' cuts and several are featured here, like Oréfiche's jazzy electric-sax led interpretation of Eddie Palmieri's 'Azúcar' (with vocals by Chirino and Manteca), 'Africa' from Chirino's second LP released in 1975, and the instrumental 'Love Van' (from the 1977 movie soundtrack Quien Salvo La Ciudad?). This collection also showcases the talents of the Cuban-born 'La India Del Oriente' (Luisa María Hernández), Pantaleón Pérez Prado (Dámaso Peréz Prado's younger brother, who confusingly went by the name Pérez Prado during his sojourn as a percussionist/bandleader in Italy), and the scat-singing Francisco Fellove (aka "El Gran Fellove") who settled in Mexico but traveled to Florida and also returned to Cuba for a brief period. Though La India is known for her beautiful, authentic interpretations of traditional Cuban forms like son montuno and guajira, she performs a food-themed Latin soul "go-go" number here with the organ-playing Julio Gutiérrez, showing the little-discussed but musically obvious links between African-American funk and classic Cuban music. In a rare appearance on Colombia's Discos Fuentes from 1981, we have Cuban resident percussionist Tata Güines (born Federico Arístides Soto Alejo) and his all-star band featuring famed vocalist/trumpeter Bobby Carcasés, presumably from a trip to Fuentes' studios in Medellín at the invitation of Julio Ernesto 'Fruko' Estrada (who was himself of Cuban ancestry) during a tour of Colombia. What's interesting about this 2-sided maxi-single is each side (both included here) showcases a different aspect of Cuba's musical evolution A is a more traditional sounding son cubano (featuring Colombian singer Lucho Argaín of Sonora Dinamita fame), while B is in the mode of the funky batá drum-driven jazz-rock fusion experiments of post-revolution groups like Irakere. For a bit of continuity with the dance floor rare groove aesthetic, from today we have the as yet unreleased Cuban funk track 'Cosquillita' ('Little Tickle') from the Spam Allstars, featuring various Cuban expats such as Tomás Díaz (originally in Irakere) and Mercedes Abal (who was with Albita before emigrating to the U.S.), and Carlos Díaz (formerly of Vocal Sampling) who joins Spam Allstars' leader, Andrew Yeomanson in an unreleased project, Los Gatos Lecheros. Cuban music has always been big in France, and Setenta come at the Latin soul genre with a distinctly sabor cubano in their interpretation of the Santería-flavored Cuban classic "Chango Ta' Veni." We finish off with the Florida-based PALO! (consisting of Cuban expatriate and American musicians) and the U.S.-born Cuban-American singer-songwriter and guitarist Jose Conde, both fusing upbeat African-American funk, jazz and soul with tasty Cuban essences.


  1. Name
  2. Julio Gutiérrez And Los Guajiros - Quimbombo Con Mofongo
  3. Chico Oréfiche - Azúcar
  4. Manteca Y Su Conjunto - Serenata Mulata
  5. Chico Oréfiche - Boogaloo De South West
  6. Pantaleon Pérez Prado - Tequila
  7. Willy Chirino - Africa
  8. Francisco Fellove - Bomboro Quiña, Quiña
  9. Willy Chirino - Love Van
  10. Nico Gomez And His Afro Percussion Inc. - Baila Chibiquiban
  11. Tata Güines Y Su Grupo Cubano (Feat. Bobby Carcassés) - Chacatá, Ya Llegó
  12. Willy Chirino - Chirinco
  13. Los Gatos Lecheros Feat. Carlos Díaz - Contigo Me Voy
  14. Setenta - Chango Ta Veni
  15. Tata Güines Y Su Grupo Cubano - Chacatá, Yo No Camino Más
  16. Spam Allstars - Cosquillita
  17. PALO! - Camina Con Los Codos
  18. Jose Conde - Amor Y Felicidad
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