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The idea of the supergroup Caravana Cubana was first hatched during a memorial service in April 1998 for Emilio Vandenedes, a renowned public radio broadcaster in the Los Angeles and Miami areas who was a major supporter of Cuban music. The performances at the memorial were so impressive, that all the participants, as well as George Hernández, a film producer and co-founder of the Los Angeles International Latino Film Festival, began patterning a recording project after the show, which would spotlight several of the musicians from Vandenedes' memorial (namely those who've enjoyed long careers, yet never quite received their rightful recognition).
The project sparked several reunions between musicians who hadn't played with each other in years — Al McKibbon (a bassist who played Afro-Cuban jazz alongside Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo in the late '40s) reunited with Francisco Aguabella for the first time in 36 years, L.A.-based José Caridad Perico Hernández joined his longtime friend Jesús Chucho Valdés, and also with his fellow sonero (singer) from '50s Havana, Pío Leiva, while the brother of the late Cuban music legend Arsenio Rodríguez, Raúl Travieso Rodríguez, joined many of his old friends on his first recording in several decades. Recorded in Los Angeles during the summer of 1998, the album, titled Late Night Sessions, wasn't issued until January of 2000 (on Rhino Records) — but the proved to be well worth the wait, as the album was nominated for a pair of Grammy Awards.