10.31.12 Afro Cuban Jazz Project with CHANGUITO
Afro-Cuban Jazz Project is a collective of top-flight Cuban musicians guided by Orlando “Maraca” Valle, an extraordinary flute player and arranger who spent many years developing his skills as a member of Irakere. Recently, Maraca has gained wide international recognition for his virtuoso musicianship and skill as a bandleader. He has brought together traditonal and cutting-edge musicians for inspirational projects that mine the wealth of Cuban music history while searching for a new direction. Indeed, Maraca’s own band is called Otro Vision, or Another Vision, and it clearly summarizes the concept of his music.
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Quintana was born in 1948 in Casablanca, Cuba. As a child he played professionally in bands such as Havana Jazz (joining aged 8), with his musician father, and with La Pandilla de los Cabezas de Perros. At the age of 13, he volunteered for military service and played in army bands, serving for three years, during which he also played in the jazz band Estrellas de Occidente.His mother died when he was 17 years old. In 1964 he joined the popular band Los Harmonicos, followed by a year in Sonorama 6, and spells as drummer in Souvinir and La Orchestra de Musica Moderna.
In 1970 he joined Los Van Van. They created the songo, where a combination of percussion instruments (timbales,cowbells, wood blocks, electronic drums and cymbals) and hand techniques are characteristic.
He first recorded as a solo artist in 1992 and became recognized as a teacher of percussion. In 1996 Changuito was nominated for a Grammy award for his work with Carlos “Patato” Valdes and Orestes Vilato, produced by Greg Landau.This was his first recording in the United States and it highlighted many aspects of his playing overlooked in his Van Van recordings. He also played on a recording with Greg Landau accompanying Puerto Rican poet Piri Thomas along with Patato and Orestes. He has also contributed to recordings by Hilario Duran.
Changuito’s contributions to Cuban music can’t be overestimated. He was one of the first Cuban drumset players to combine aspects of jazz and funk drumming with traditional Cuban comparsa, batá and timbal rhythms. He used the drum kit both melodically and polyphonically and was a master at spicing up slower rhythms with double-time variations. In addition to his performances and recordings, he’s also been the musical padrino to generation after generation of students at Havana’s Escuela Nacional de los Artes (la ENA), teaching timba giants such as Tomasito Cruz, Alexis “Pututi I” Arce and many others.
La historia del songo is a must-have instructional video featuring Changuito and Rebeca Mauleón-Santana. By the end, you still don’t quite know what songo is, and its history remains murky, but after each viewing, while you may not have learned what you set out to learn, you’ve nevertheless learned something else of equal or greater value. It’s a priceless experience to hear Changuito chat in a relaxed setting and to watch the lovingly overdubbed rhythmic examples. There are also several full performances featuring Changuito playing with a group that includes Giovanni Hidalgo.
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- October 30, 2012 / 3:33 am
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