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Orquesta Sublime

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Biography

Orquesta Sublime is another in a long line of fine Cuban bands that benefited from the involvement of a foreign musician who brought them new exposure in America; the most famous example of this, of course, is the "discovery" of the musicians of the Buena Vista Social Club by American slide guitarist Ry Cooder. In Orquesta Sublime's case, the musician who visited them in Havana was Klaus Roehm, a German-born saxophonist who currently lives in Oregon. As with many of the great Cuban orchestras, Orquesta Sublime's history runs much deeper than the faddish American interest in Cuban music that Buena Vista Social Club aroused. Orquesta Sublime was founded in 1956 by flautist Melquiades Fundora as a Charanga orchestra. The group, which actual found some pre-embargo success in tours to Florida, continues to be a traditional charanga group in that it features a light, organic rhythm section of timbales, acoustic bass, güiro, and congas with solo voice and flute taking the melodic lead. It is a sound which was popularized by Orquesta Aragon and which formed a crucial link between son and the later styles up through salsa. The band's faithfulness to a sound that was popular 40 years earlier might have made it a bit of a museum piece, but after a long embargo that blocked music as much as anything, Orquesta Sublime's laid-back, carefree sound is still fresh and relevant to American ears. ~ Nathan Thornburgh

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