2023: Cuba is Indeed Music

2023: Cuba is Indeed Music
Fecha de publicación: 
7 January 2024
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Nothing better than music to accompany life on an island where, since ever, we’ve expressed joys, loves and even problems through singing. That’s why in the pages of CubaSí we were aware of the main events in the Cuban musical scene.

Albums Recording Are Still On

Longing for more abundant times to return to albums production in the country, we begin year 2023 with advances of Julián, a beautiful album from the very cover, presented by the Cuban singer-songwriter Adrián Berazaín: "it’s a production with all the essence of trova and the music I like, which is mainly rock and roll with many influences from Cuban and international songs of all times, whether from Brazil, Latin America or Europe, so, a lot of rock and roll and songs," he told us.

We attended the first record production of the young Matanzas group Rumba Timba, heir to the blood and music of Los Muñequitos de Matanzas. During the presentation to the press, its director, Diosdado Enier Ramos, «Figurín», commented: «The album began recording in 2020 and in 2023 we are giving full light to this "Sueño". With a lot of positive energy, we are super happy and grateful to Bis Music for giving us this chance.

La Morada, of Buena Fe, also opened its doors in 2023. During the presentation, Yoel Martínez, guitarist, arranger and one of the founding voices of the group said: «We are happy for this material, it’s dedicated to Cuba, dedicated to the house, dedicated to everything that each of us can feel like our home. We are very happy with the result of the album. I hope people like it, I hope it reaches the squares and can captivate a soul with some of its songs. And yes, we did enjoyed every song inside and outside Cuba.

2023 also gave us “Alejandro Falcón y Cubadentro Live in Havana”, a production by Colibrí label blessed by the talent of the creators involved and, also, by the Virgin of Regla. "One of the most important and most difficult things about this project is that we did it on the street, we exited the theater: people went by, riding on the Regla's boat, and us playing," commented the prominent pianist and composer to CubaSí.

And we say goodbye in style with the musical train of Cuba, 2023 closed in Van Van Mode, with the most recent record production of the orchestra, which is released under the label of the companies Bis Music and Amboss Media. The album comprises several composers and it’s, in the words of Samuel Formell, "a very well recorded album, very well mixed and made to dance."

Party Music

Events and festivals also had space in our website. We begin with the Bel Canto dedicated to the troubadour Gerardo Alfonso, about which the author of Sábanas Blancas himself commented: «It has been very interesting and very sensitive that Helson has had that initiative to call the song and the performers for an event of that kind in the Basilica. Beyond the fact that they are my songs, for Cuban culture it’s a huge contribution, combining trova songs with lyrical singing is even patriotic, because it means defending the country through art.

Once again January brought the Jazz Plaza International Festival, which in 2023 made us flow in that spirituality that only music generates and also confirmed an old truth: there’s good jazz in Cuba and an audience ready to enjoy it. "Jazz is part of life," Germán Velazco told us then, who was one of the personalities to whom the theoretical space that always accompanies the Festival was dedicated.

In April, we toasted with Piña Colada from Ciego de Ávila. The most important musical event in central Cuba reached its 20th edition and we were there. "In twenty years, we’ve had the pleasure of artists of all generations and diverse styles passing through here, emblematic groups and, above all, very talented young people who have found in this event the opportunity to show their work,"  explained in an exclusive to CubaSí, the founder and president of the Piña Colada Festival, Arnaldo Rodríguez, a lady had rightly told us about Conga passing through Ceballos, with the Banda de Boyeros: «This Festival is the joy of the people of Ciego de Avila. Here, forget about carnivals and all that: what we can’t miss in this municipality is the Piña Colada. We have had it already 20 times and we are going for more.

"Cubadisco, Island that sounds" is the slogan of the largest music festival in the Cuban music industry , this year it proposed a tour of Cuban music of all times and all genres and styles, as it was announced by its president, the prominent Cuban musician Jorge Gómez. Of course, we follow from our website the debates of the International Symposium, this time dedicated to the 45th anniversaries of the Center for Research and Development of Cuban Music, to the 20th anniversary of Colibrí Production and the 10th anniversary of Clave television channel. And of course we celebrated the Grand Prize awarded to Ancestros Sinfónico, of group Síntesis, Eme, and X Alfonso, an album that was then only beginning its path of awards.

Other musical events like the Varadero Josone, A Bridge to Havana, the Political Song Day in Guantánamo, Chocolate with Coffee and Atenas Fusión, were also not lacking in our informative coverage. Habana Mambo Festival and its International Colloquium “Dale Mambo” made it to the home page of our website again, now in the last month of 2023 and celebrating the 107 years of Dámaso Pérez Prado, the King of Mambo. The spirit of the event was expressed very well by Orlando Valle, Maraca: "What was put together is extremely important, because it has heart and it has intelligence."

Other news we didn’t miss were the Santa María Music Fest and the presentation, at the Musical Recording and Publishing Company (EGREM) stand, at the Havana International Fair, of La Isla de la Música project, a platform for promotion of the Cuban sound universe, promoted by the company Mambo S.R.L. of the artist and cultural promoter Arnaldo Rodríguez and the Musicuba Agency of EGREM.

The Havana International Latin American Film Festival moved the city again in December, but 2023 gave us a new opportunity: to experience the complicity between the seventh art and music through the Mambo Productions in Cinema, a tribute to the 65 years of ICAIC. For three nights, a large screen allowed us to watch again films like Strawberry and Chocolate, The Man from Maisinicú or Us the Music and on the same stage the concerts of artists closely linked to cinema. This kind of creative conspiracy stretched to other spaces close to the film circuit, such as the Fresa y Chocolate Cultural Center and the Casa de la Amistad. A new experience, which I hope will be repeated this year.

Before the end of 2023, we are already in tune with the next Salsa Festival and we welcome several of the musicians who will participate at home, starting with its creator and leader, the popular Maykel Blanco: «The idea is to repeat what we’ve been doing year after year, but always give it some freshness, bring it a little to what’s happening today. I think it has the same spirit, it’s the same Festival with the same desires; of course, it has been improving, it has been growing, although I have to highlight that we were lucky, since the first edition, that there was a lot of public attendance," said the director of Salsa Mayor Band.

There are Songs...

There are those that can always be reborn, like the one Francis del Río has been singing since 2023: "pero que mal le va a Superman..." and the chorus goes: "... desde que se metio en la OTAN." It’s not a new song, but inspirations that this Cuban musician has put into his version of the anthology The OEA is a laughing matter, of the great Carlos Puebla.

The song Hay un barrio became popular in 2013, as part of the celebrations on the anniversary of Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR). Ten years later, it returned recontextualized, with new musical sounds and a video clip directed by Roly Peña that has just premiered on social networks and Cuban Television. In this regard, the «mulato acalera'o» who visited our editorial office expressed: «It’s a song that I’ve always liked, I sing it at live concerts, and now, in this dynamic we are experiencing with the elections, we saw it as very appropriate to accompany this campaign. Plus, it's a song that can always give good vibes."

And in the heat of the World Baseball Classic, a song hit the networks and, confess, many of us danced to it in our houses: Team Asere, by Alexander Abreu. It unleashed any amount of controversy and much more joy and sense of belonging with Cuba that know no borders or hatred, those that unite us as music does: Cuba.

Translated by Amilkal Labañino / CubaSí Translation Staff

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