Caravana Cubana

Late Night Sessions

By Katharine A. D?¡az
Published on LatinoLA: October 28, 1999

Caravana Cubana

Cuban music is all the rage these days, and a little bit of it was recorded for posterity right here in LatinoLA, in a remarkable meeting of local musicians and those from the island. The result is Caravana Cubana: Late Night Sessions (Dreamer Music), a recording that has garnered rave reviews locally and internationally.

Recorded in 1998, the idea for this CD evolved following a memorial service held for Emilio Vandenedes, a former dj of KXLU's salsa program, "Alma del Barrio," and other programs in Miami. He was instrumental in introducing thousands of listeners on both coasts to contemporary Cuban music before his death in February 1998.

The service, at which a number of fine musicians performed, inspired the desire to do a recording. Once begun, musicians visiting from Cuba wanted to participate. The result is a masterpiece of Afro-Cuban jazz and tracks made for dancers.

Unlike some recordings for which a reviewer has to carefully analyze each tune, with Caravana Cubana, mere mention of the artists is enough proof that this is a quality recording. So let's begin:
Jos? Caridad "Perico" Hern?ndez - vocals, percussionist, and musical director. Performed with Cuba's Conjunto Casino and other bands before coming to Los Angeles where he currently leads the group Clave y Son, which plays Monday nights at Rudolpho's in Silver Lake.
Francisco Aguabella - percussion. Legendary musican who has impacted Afro-Cuban music in the United States since arriving from Cuba in 1955.
Bamboleo - background vocals. One of Cuba's exciting young groups, known for its intricate harmonies.
Jimmy Bosch - trombone. Former sideman and now band leader, Bosch has recorded with Cachoa, Manny Oquendo y Libre and others.
Carlos del Puerto, Jr. - bass. From a family of Cuban musicians, including his bassist father, Del Puerto, Jr., now calls LA home.
Miguel "Ang?" D?az - congas. Another Cuban legend and highly respected percussionist.
L?zaro Galarraga - vocals, percussion. An original member of the Conjunto Folkl?rico Nacional de Cuba, Galarraga commands an unforgettable voice, whether singing dance tunes or chants to the gods.
Al McKibbon - bass. A disciple of Dizzy Gillespie when Chano Pozo incorporated Afro-Cuban rhythms into jazz, McKibbon has witnessed first hand the importance of Cuban music in contemporary music.
Pio Leiva - vocals. At 83, Leiva's career witnessed a boost as a result of his work with the acclaimed Buena Vista Social Club.
Ra?l Travieso Rodr?guez - percussion, vocals. A renown musician who has long called LA home, he is also the brother of Arsenio Rodr?guez, a revered figure in the Afro-Cuban and salsa world.
Jesus "Chucho" Vald?s - piano. Founder and musical director of the world-famous Irakere. Vald?s is one of the most brilliant musical figures of the late twentieth century. Accolades follow all of his recordings and performances.
Orlando "Maraca" Valle - flute. Representing the new generation of Cuban musicians, Maraca leads his own band and often tours in the United States.
Rounding out this line-up of musicians is producer Alan Geik, who is also a motion picture editor and dj on "Alma del Barrio"; executive producer George Hern?ndez, who produced the documentary "Cachao: Como su ritmo no hay dos" and co-directs the annual LA Latino International Film Festival; and executive producer Nina Lenart, a writer and marketing director and dj on "Alma del Barrio."
While all the tracks shine on this release, outstanding numbers include "Chucho Carabal?," highlighting the talents of Vald?s, the very danceable son chang?i "Rica y caliente," and the lilting guajira "Romanza guajira."
But there is something for everyone from rumba to descarga, bolero and comparsa.

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