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  • 01 Septeto Nacional
  • 05 Izaline Calister
  • 07 Iwer George
  • 08 Batata y su rumba Palenquer
  • 09 Luizinho Vieira

Fiesta Tropical

From Havana to Rio de Janeiro: “It’s party time.”

Anyone who has travelled around the Caribbean Islands or Latin America is aware of the importance of music in the everyday life of the people there. No particular occasion or organizational guidelines are required. Music resounds from all around, irrespective of the place or the time of day. It is an essential part of life, indeed an elixir of life.

What the Cuban poet Nicolás Guillén said about the music in his country also applies to the music from the more southern regions of the globe: “resonant rum, to be imbibed with the ears.”

The first part of this party takes place in Havana. For our “El camino de la salsa” project we invited various groups to studio sessions. Septeto Nacional is legendary in Cuba, a veritable institution! It was formed in 1927 as a result of competition between two American record companies.

Columbia Records wanted to confront RCA’s successful group Sexteto Habanera with this new group of its own. Spurred by their respective record companies, the two groups fought constant musical duels in the course of the following years. Even their recording sessions were often scheduled to take place at the same time. The now 80-year-old history of the Septeto Nacional resembles a roller coaster ride during which leader and musicians frequently changed.

Sometimes hugely successful periods were followed by lean periods, usually after new line-ups were formed or new directions taken. Somewhat in the shade of the international boom surrounding the Buena Vista Social Club, this group stuck unwaveringly to its course and is still constantly on tour in the new millennium. Musically, the Septeto feels indebted to tradition; the adventure of re-arranging known pieces from the history of son and salsa and interpreting them through a contemporary idiom seems to have been a complete success.

Son, the kernel of modern salsa music, repeatedly pervades their work, blending African rhythms and percussion instruments with Spanish lyrics and string instruments to form a particular Creole style. This musical synthesis, with which Black and White have been, and still are able to identify to this very day, reflects the history of Cuba.


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