Havana Cultura is a global initiative developed by Havana Club International (producer of Havana Club, the authentic Cuban rum) to give a unique platform to today’s Cuban artists from all disciplines. 2009 marked the beginning of Gilles’s partnership with the Havana Cultura project as he travelled to Havana to carry out initial explorations of the Cuban underground and record an album: ‘Havana Cultura: New Cuba Sound’. He discovered Havana’s fertile – and fiercely independent – hip-hop culture: nodded to the riotous thump ‘n’ grind of Cuba’s homegrown reggaeton movement and highlighted a clique of artists innovating in the spaces between jazz, soul, traditional Cuban rhythms and hip-hop.read more
Back in 2009 Gilles teamed up with the award-winning Cuban jazz pianist Roberto Fonseca to find the very best up and coming musical talent in Havana. ‘Havana Cultura: New Cuba Sound’ represented the biggest collection of contemporary Cuban musicians in a single musical initiative since the highly acclaimed Buena Vista Social Club project in 1997. With Peterson at the helm, the double CD album was a celebration of Cuba’s brightest musical talent spanning Latin, Afro jazz and fusion to hip-hop, funk, reggaeton and soul. CD01 found Gilles in uncharted territory, revelling in the role of Producer. A whirlwind ride across the Cuban spectrum from rumba to reggaeton, the band jammed out certified Cuban classics (‘Chekere Son’, ‘Pa’Gozar’); embraced deep, spiritual jazz vibes (‘Rezando’); and celebrated the Afro-Cuban connection (via Fela Kuti’s ‘Roforofo Fight’). The second disc showcased Gilles in his more customary role as a selector, dipping his toe into the cacophony of rhythms and rhymes reverberating up and down the streets of Havana.
2010 saw the release of ‘Havana Cultura: Remixed’ featuring the likes of Louie Vega, MJ Cole, 4hero, Carl Cox, Rainer Trüby, Gotan Project’s Philippe Cohen Solal, Seiji, Michel Cleis and Mocky. All veterans of the Worldwide underground and all equipped with the skills and experience to flip Havana Cultura onto a another level. And of course, in order to maximise the Cuban flavour, we cut DJ Wichy and Edgaro El Productor en Jefe from Doble Filo loose on their favourites from the album, with awesome results.
Returning to Havana in search of fresh talent in 2011 with co-producers Vince Vella (a veteran from the first album) and Simbad (Gilles’ production partner in his remixing endeavours) in tow, Gilles was adamant that this new collection evolve and push things forwards: “I wanted to retain the ‘anything can happen’ spirit of the first session, but this time with a maturing Cubanism.” Following the structure of the inaugural Havana Cultura album, CD01 again finds Gilles in Producer mode, welcoming a string of guest musicians, vocalists and rappers to Studio A and orchestrating the glorious sound clashes that bore the fruits herein. Returning to the fray after their awesome contributions to the first album are pianist Roberto Fonseca and his oh-so-tight band (the heartbeat of the so-called Havana Cultura Band); Edrey from hype rap duo Ogguere; Coro master Francis del Rio; underground kings Los Aldeanos; Alexey (El Tipo Este) from Obsesión; and soul sisters Telmary and Danay Suarez whose solo career has blossomed in France. Toss into the mix Gilles’ new discoveries – Arema Arega, Osdalgia, Melvis Santa, Silvito El Libre, Dreiser, Elain Morales and Sexto Sentido – and this really is a wonderful snapshot of Cuba’s music underground in 2011… the full rainbow spectrum from the freeform rumba flex of ‘La Tormenta’ to the frenetic rolling pianos of ‘Agita’ via hip-hop’s golden age (check the Cuban rework of A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Check The Rhyme’) and Eddie Kendricks’ certified soul classic ‘My People…Hold On’ (‘Espera Mi Gente’).
“Having spent the last three years travelling regularly to Havana I’ve understandably become more attached to this fascinating, almost otherworldly city. I’m also slowly getting to grips with the relationship music has here with the spirits and its people… the drum goes deep.”
Three years have passed since Gilles’ initial exploration of the Cuban underground uncovered Havana’s fertile – and fiercely independent – hip-hop culture: nodded to the riotous thump ‘n’ grind of Cuba’s homegrown reggaeton movement and highlighted a clique of artists innovating in the spaces between jazz, soul, traditional Cuban rhythms and hip-hop. Peterson’s excursion under the skin of the Cuban underground in 2011 underlines the same spirit of experimentation on CD02 and raises a clutch of new talent (including Djoyvan, Afrikun, Kola Loka and the Creole Choir of Cuba) from local notoriety to worldwide exposure, showcasing new collaborations and exclusive tracks from Danay Suarez, Edgaro El Productor en Jefe and El Tipo Este.
Havana Cultura is a global initiative developed by Havana Club International (producer of Havana Club, the authentic Cuban rum) to give a unique platform to today’s Cuban artists from all disciplines… a showcase for their work. Launched in 2007 through the website www.havana-cultura.com, it has to date stored interviews from 80 artists, of which 60 are already online. It offers news of the CD releases, gigs and tours, and samples of new music, films, art works and dance projects which all give viewers a unique and deep insight into Havana’s contemporary cultural scene. Broader than that, it covers the extraordinary talent in the whole island – an immersion into what they have to say about their work, their life and their city. Sharing the same vision, Gilles and Brownswood’s adventure with Havana Cultura began in 2009 and has burrowed to the heart of Havana’s music underground.close info
- Gilles Peterson presents Havana Cultura: New Cuba Sound CD / Digital
- Havana Cultura: Remixed CD / Digital
- Gilles Peterson presents Havana Cultura: The Search Continues CD / Digital
- CD / Digital 27 October 2014
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