); Top 9 Cuban Salsa/Timba Groups | Visit Cuba


Top 9 Cuban Salsa/Timba Groups

By Silvia Gomez / Posted January 23, 2012

1 Alain Daniel

Alain Daniel joined Bamboleo in 2001, replacing El Gafas. In addition to singing lead, he contributed several Manolín-esque compositions during his 4-year tenure before leaving to form “Alain Daniel y su New Casino” in 2005. The following is an extract from a review of Vestigios (his 2007 albumn). For the full review go to Yemaya’s Verse: http://yemayasverse.blogspot.com/2009/03/alain-daniel-vestigios-review.html: ‘This is a spunky album of timba brava with a side order of funk, a suffix of “ton” and the obligatory ballad and cha-cha-cha. Plus: Vania! All with Alaín”s trademark, hyperactive, pega”o sound. The “salsa” parts of his songs have a slight tropical fusion feel – they are still salsa, but there is just a hint of other parts of the Caribbean in their rhythms. Almost all of the songs build to heady, and very hard timba climax, replete with stuttering bloques, urgent coros and lots of tension and release moments.’ Read more about Alain Daniel at Timba.com

2. Arnaldo Rodríguez Arnaldo y su Talisman

Arnaldo Rodriguez is heraled as one of the most talented young artists on Cuba”s contemporary music scene. After serving as director of the well-known group Azucar for many years, in 2002 Arnaldo decided to form his own band named Arnaldo y su Talisman. Over the past eight years the band as received numerous awards at the Cubadiscos (Cuban Junos) and enjoyed immense popularity in Cuba. Arnaldo Rodriguez is also the founder and director of the International Festival Piña Colada that takes place every year in Cayo Coco Cuba to promote tourism and the culture of the region – gathering international artists and fans from all over the world. Frequently Arnaldo and su Talisman share the stage with Icons like Omara Portuondo and Eliades Ochoa from Buena Vista Social Club. The orchestra”s repertoire includes a great variety of rhythms from boleros to traditional Cuban son, pop and reggeaton. Read more about Arnaldo Rodríguez Arnaldo y su Talisman at Timba.com

3. Azúcar Negra

Azúcar Negra was formed in 1998 when Leonel Limonta, Haila Mompié (no longer with the band), and other musicians split off from Bamboleo. Limonta had written almost all of the material for Bamboleo´s brilliant second album, Yo no me parezco a nadieand Haila was one of the lead singers. Azúcar Negra created a great new arrangement of the title song and Limonta continued to pour his songwriting talent into the project. In 2001, after a number of world tours, they finally released their first studio album, Andar andando.All of Azúcar Negra´s material is written by Limonta, who also wrote four huge hits for Charanga Habanera and two for Issac Delgado. Juan Carlos González said of Limonta, “He´s not a trained musician, but every song he brought in had some kind of special magic and became a huge hit.” Various bandmembers have contributed arrangements, such as Adalberto Domínguez, who is also once of Timba´s top bassists, a great pianist, and an absolute wonder to watch on stage. In the years prior to the release of Andar andando, Azúcar Negra, like many Cuban bands, had a string of radio hits. The bands record relatively inexpensive demos and release them to Radio Taíno and other stations. Azúcar Negra is an extremely well–rehearsed band whose live show is full of interesting medleys and segues. They´re definitely a thrill to see live. Read more about Azúcar Negra at Timba.com

4. Adalberto Álvarez

Like Los Van Van, Adalberto Álvarezwas a major figure in Cuban popular music long before Timba began, writing dozens of songs which were hits for his own groups, Son 14 and Adalberto Álvarez y su Son, and for many other artists such as Rumbavana as well, both inside and outside of Cuba. He is by all accounts one of the most important and influential figures in the history of Cuban music. When Timba began in the 90″s, Los Van Van embraced it, quickly becoming one of the leading Timba bands. Like LVV, Adalberto was also able to retain his status as one of the most popular acts in Cuba, but he did so by staying much closer to his original son style. Nevertheless, his recent music has moved closer to Timba in many ways. Read more about Adalberto Álvarez at Timba.com

5. Bamboleo

Bamboleo is one of the most important timba bands, combining innovative and extremely original arranging with an overwhelming groove, which, as is the case with Manolito and Issac, has to be heard live to get the full experience. Leader and pianist Lázaro Valdés Moises Rodríguez was born on February 6, 1965. He comes from a family of musicians. He began his professional career at 16 and proceeded to tour extensively with Pachito Alonso as a keyboardist and percussionist. In February 1995 he decided to establish Bamboleo, with the aim of entering into various genres such as salsa, folkloric afro-cuban music, Latin jazz, boleros and ballads. Bamboleo, which is the group that brought together all of Lazarito’s musical wants and ideas, quickly rose in popularity both nationally and internationally, highlighted by their extensive touring schedule in the U.S.A Japan, China, Panama, and throughout Europe. Their third record, “Ya no hace falta” has become one of the most popular Cuban music albums of the all time. Read more about Bamboleo at Timba.com

6. La Barriada

La Barriada was formed in 1995 under the direction of trumpet player Juan Kemell, by a group of ENA graduates, some of whom had been friends since childhood. They chose the name of the band to reflect the importance of the lifelong bonds formed in the neighborhood and the significance of these roots to the music of the orchestra. The trademark of the group is the elation that the audience feels during their concerts. In Kemell”s own words “What we try to do when we”re working is to bring a party so that the people feel good, feel happy, that they dance, forget all the problems in the world, forget all the bad things. That”s the idea.” You don”t need to speak Spanish to enjoy La Barriada. Their music and performances supersede language barriers. La Barriada plays a combination of Cuban genres such as son, cha-cha-cha, salsa and timba as well as other Latin American music such as bachata, merengue and cumbia. If you haven”t heard La Barriada yet, you are in for a treat. I recommend starting with “Adios a la Tristeza” and “Havanaza”. Read more about La Barriada at Timba.com

7. Ángel Bonne

Before launching a solo career which has produced 6 strong albums, Ángel Bonne sang, played sax and composed for Los Van Van on two of their most memorable masterpieces, Disco Azúcar and Lo último en vivo. Ángel inherited his gift for songwriting from his father Enrique Bonne, one of the most important figures of the 1960s and 70s. His soulful harmonies and lyrics have won him a loyal following around the world, including most of timba.com”s contributors. For myself, when I”m feeling depressed or overwhelmed, I often find myself reaching for Bonne y Bonne, Co. or Circunstancias. Something about Bonne”s harmonies always seems to remove the emotional block. Read more about Angel Bonne at Timba.com

8. Wil Campa

When you hear Wil Campa”s voice you will immediately recognize it from many hits by Maraca y Otra Visión. Wil began singing as a child and studied voice at La Escuela de Superación Profesional. In 1998 he joined Maraca y Otra Visión where he beautifully interpreted a number of their biggest hits such as Descarga Total, Soy Yo , And Castígala . Wil has now moved on to direct his own group, La Gran Unión. The musical concept behind this group is to defend Cuban son using a sonero style of interpretation, mixing musical influences from the 40s and 70s with contemporary elements. Their first CD, Es Tiempo, was released on June 20, 2008. Amor o Guerra starts with a hot tumbao and a sample of the coro, which is good because it then drifts into a very romantic cuerpo. Without the hardcore itro it might just seem like a salsa romantica. Instead the song combines a melodic cuerpo with coros meant to get the dancers on the floor. Es Tiempois a very modern timbaton mix that includes some heavy rap sections. Read more about Wil Campa at Timba.com

9. Charanga Forever

Charanga Forever was formed in the summer of 1998 as a result of the famous breakup of Charanga Habanera. Juan Carlos González and Michel Maza returned briefly in 1999, recording one excellent 7-track CD (see Discography). Original members gradually departed throughout the 2000s but the new members have been very promising and two excellent Envidia CDs have been released. Read more about Charange Forever at Timba.com

Silvia Gomez