Adalberto Alvarez

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About Adalberto Alvarez

Adalberto Alvarez has been a leading force in the revival of son, the Cuban dance music that reached its peak in popularity in the '50s. The former leader of Adalberto Alvarez & Conjunto Son 14, Alvarez has continued to pay homage, as well as expand, the son tradition with Adalberto Alvarez y Su Son, the band that he formed in 1984. While his music signals a return to the traditional sounds, Alvarez has successfully incorporated more modern musical influences. According to The New York Times, "(Adalberto Alvarez y Su Son) is one of Cuba's great bands, one that has had an enormous influence on Salsa; it's modern and unstoppable and it doesn't sound like the Havana-based dance music called timba. Instead, it sounds a bit more traditional, closer to New York and Puerto Rican salsa, smooth and elegant for a moment, until the volcano loses the top." Alvarez studied musical directing and composition at the National Arts School in his hometown of Camaguey. Following his graduation, he was asked to form an orchestra in Santiago de Cuba. That group became Adalberto Alvarez & Conjunto Son 14, one of the pioneer ensembles of modern son. In 1984, Alvarez formed a new band, Adalberto Alvarez y Su Son, in Santiago de Las Vegas, a suburb of Havana. Although they use the traditional son instruments, including the Cuban tres, a guitar with triple sets of double strings, and plucked bass, the group's sound is enhanced by electronic keyboards, timbales, trombones, and other brass instruments. Jorge Luis Rojas (aka Rojitas), the band's original vocalist, left to join Jesús Alemañy's band, ¡Cubanismo!, and was replaced by Aramis Galindo. While many of Adalberto Alvarez y Su Son's songs reflect on the usual son themes of everyday life, several tunes deal with Santeria, the religion in which Alvarez is a babalao, or priest. ~ Craig Harris

Havana, Cuba

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