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Greetings from Havana

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Album Review

For over a decade, ¡Cubanismo! has steadily extended their reputation as one of the most popular bands playing traditional Afro-Cuban music (think of them as a modern, younger Buena Vista Social Club). The group's audience in the United States (where they first performed) grew to be a sizable one, aided by frequent touring during their early years, but due to the political pigheadedness that has kept the cultural exchange between Cuba and the U.S. to a minimum, the band was barred from returning to the U.S. for much of the post-9/11 period. Fortunately, the Australian AIM label had the foresight to send ¡Cubanismo! back into the studio for the first time in six years and to make sure that the resultant album has sufficient U.S. distribution. So the title, Greetings from Havana, is to be taken literally. Its creators, unable to plug their work via direct interaction with their American audience, are forced to continue their work from a distance. And it would be a shame if the album did not reach its intended audience or hook new fans, because it's quite likely ¡Cubanismo!'s best work to date. Tighter than ever musically, the band's fiery fusion has taken on a more jazz-oriented freedom than in the past without sacrificing any of the island authenticity that bandleader/trumpeter Jesus Alemany has insisted upon since the start. Horn and piano solos are crisp and exhilarating, the layers of percussion never quit propelling the sunny melodies forward into dance territory, and both the lead and harmony vocals are always exciting and exquisite. Gliding easily between mambo, rumba, son, bolero, and other substrata of Cuban music, and running through a range of lyrical topics, from standard romance to matters more spiritual, ¡Cubanismo! is one of the great standard-bearers of their country's music. Now, if only they would be allowed to show their northern neighbors why. This CD was nominated for a Grammy award in 2007 for Best Tropical Latin Album.


Genre: Música tropical

Years Active: '90s, '00s

¡Cubanismo! certainly has good timing. Releasing their first album just before the seminal world music success of Buena Vista Social Club, they were poised to make a real impact with their melodic Cuban music that kept its roots strong but also reached outward with a rhythmic kick and a sense of adventure. The band was formed by trumpeter Jesús Alemañy, who had been a Cuban child prodigy, gliding through Havana's Conservatorio Amadeo Roldan, then joining Sierra Maestra, the group that helped rejuvenate...
Full Bio
Greetings from Havana, Cubanismo
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