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This musical genre marked out by a great sense of rhythm arose in the eastern side of Cuba about the end of the nineteenth century as derived from Cuban Son. The historical “Son Montuno” born in Santiago, spread in Havana and Matanzas around 1909 where its original rhythm was subjected to great changes due to the first contacts with rumba. This historical rhythm represents the perfect mix between the pleasing and mystical European and African melodies: from this strong union pours out a new language typical of Cuba whose success consists in the special intensity of the execution, in the perfect demonstration of talent and harmony as well as in those capacities of improvisation that artists of this musical genre succeed in their performances. In this perspective the Cuban musician Arsenio Rodriguez defined, introduced and developed a musical style in which his special combination showed a perfect “montuno" (dialogue between soloist and choral voices), a superb use of the conga and the bell together with a precious accentuation of “Tres” (a guitar with three strings ) and of trumpets. At a later stage the strengthened rhythmic formulation of “Son Montuno” was enriched by the contributions of the famous director Benny Moré who spiced this genre with new and fascinating elements derived from bolero, guaracha and mambo. Nowadays it is possible to assist at an infinity of fusions and uses of “Son” as well as “Son Montuno” nearby and inside the different musical sequences of jazz, hip-hop and Latin-pop: among these, we can include the excellent compositions of bands as Orishas (537 C.U.B.A) and Yerba Buena (Guajira I love U 2 Much).

Son Montuno

This historical genre arose in Cuban land about 1879. In this year, thanks to the effect of transculturation typical of Cuba, the composer Miguel Failde channeled and linked with his extraordinary artistry, a series of rhythmical concepts having Spanish, English and French origins with other sound effects of African and Afro Caribbean derivations. The result of this special mix was a special sound known at the beginning as “Creole Dance” or “Cuban Habanera”, in which some instruments as violins, timpani, flutes, the “conga”, the “bongo”, the “cencerro”, the “guiro” were introduced; afterwards the trumpet, the clarinet, the piano, the contrabass were added; all these instruments gave the first genre born in the city of Havana a special extension of their musical time in the direction of the dance together with a better liberty of expression, thus creating the bases for the definitive identification of this genre as “Danzón”. The undisputed success attributed to “Danzón” gave the beginnings to a long series of interpretations and musical evolutions that blossomed and influenced the naissance of other historical genres as the “Danzonete”, the “Cha Cha Cha” and the “Mambo”: these new genres, afterwards led the “Danzón” to decline in the Cuban territories. In the same period the consolidated “Danzón” distanced from the Cuban scenarios to meet in Mexican lands its better success through the musical influences that high level artists as Damaso Perez Prado, Benny Moré and other musicians offered a country able to understand and embrace this music genre, hereinafter, as integral part of its own culture. This striking phenomenon able to join music and culture led the Mexican composer Arturo Marquez to the creation in 1994 of the famous “Danzón nr.2” that realizes and eternalizes the most sublime essence of this genre.

Danzón

Rumba

This legendary and captivating genre whose rhythmic and melodic origin is attributed both to the Bantù ethnic group coming from African continent and the Andalusian community living in Spanish lands finds its special dimension at the end of XVII century in the Cuban region of Matanzas: here arises a new musical form called “Rumba”. This new rhythmical interpretation composed by singings and percussions reached thereafter Havana and Santiago: in these lands this genre received further sounds developments, then was divided in different categories as “Rumba Yambù” (it is the slowest and most ancient rumba style), “Rumba Guaguancó” (it a style rhythmically faster and much complex compared to Yambù) and the “Rumba Columbia” (it is a style rhythmically much more fast, vivacious and urban as related to Yambù and Guagancó rumba). This musical concept based upon the five notes identifying the clef, reached at a later stage the United States together with other Cuban genres that were classified in their entirety as Rumba and so introduced by musicians as Xavier Cugat, Pupi Campo, Miguelito Valdes and other music directors in the ballrooms of the high society in Los Angeles, New York and also in overseas cities as Paris, Madrid etc. A fascinating and historical musical fragment expressing the charm of this period is met in the piece “Rumba Rumbero” (1940) by Xavier Cugat.

Mambo

Guaguancó

Cha Cha Cha

This charming genre came into being in the thirties: in these years some innovative rhythmical ideas were introduced and harmonised with Danzón (the popular Cubanban genre in that period) by some Cuban musicians: among these, the Lopez brothers in 1938 composed the motif “Mambo” whosehose rhythmical sequence appeared faster compared to the traditional danzón theme. The sound variation imposed by Israel “Cachao” Lopez and Oreste Lopez to Danzón fascinated the musician and Cuban orchestral director Damaso Perez Prado, who, once moved in Mexico in 1948, made “mambo” famous all over the world. In the later years “Mambo” received further changes especially in the United States wherehere high level musicians as José Curbelo, Xavierer Cugat, Noro Morales, Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez, Machito, Mario Bauza and manyy others gave to this genre an innovative interpretation thanks to the contributes arrived from Afro American jazz.

This legendary musical genre was born followinging to the slavery abolition in 1886 in Cuba. This fragment of Caribbean history got in its original interpretation can be included together with “Yambù” and “Columbia” in the “Rumba” rhythmical categories; it revealed the complex fusion between the various profane rituals of the Afro Cuban culture of that period and thee Spanish rhythmical influences having in Flamenco its protagonist and from which manyny structural concepts including the “Guaguancó” pieces were drew on: in fact the oldest compositions resulting from this mixing dated back at the end of the Spanish colonial periodd in the island and are famous as “Rumbas del tiempo de España” that is “The Rumbas of Spanish times”. Besides this new Cuban genre was special moreover at an executive level due the use off the classic key 3/2, the “Tumbadoras” (congas)gas) and a wood percussion case combined with some wands. In the later years the director Arsenio Rodriguezuez introduced inside the musical structure of “Son”on” some beats elements of “Rumba Guarancó”: in this context, from the forties, the classic development of “Son” becoming later “Conjunto”unto” performed a large variety of musical instruments:ents: first of all “Tres” (Cuban guitar), bongos, maracas,racas, guiro, congas to follow with trumpets, piano andand then also adding the melodic introductive songng “Diana” (got from the Andalusian music). The result of this great sonorous phenomenonn established the naissance of other rhythms ass Afro-Son, Son Montuno and Son Guaguancó: thethe latter received a big success in Cuba even if notnot equal to that achieved by Son Montuno. At a later stage, in the sixties, Son Guaguancoó trains moved towards the United States whenre some legendary directors as Tito Puente and Tito Rodriguez substituted and enriched somee pieces of this genre with other rhythmical elements derived from Guaracha, Mambo and Jazz. Progressively the consolidated genre “Guaguancó” was spiced up in New York and Puerto Rico with other musical genres as Jala-Jala, R&B, Soul, Bossa Nova through the creativity of high-level musicians as Ricardo “Richie” Ray, Ray Barretto, Hector Rivera, Mon Rivera, Johnny Colón and the eclectic Roberto Roena.

This delightful genre came from the creativity of the violinist, composer and Cuban orchestra leader Enrique Jorrín, who introduced about 1951 a new musical style in Cuban ballrooms of that period. This rhythmical innovation whose original instrumentation derived from danzón and son montuno, presented the implementations of singers’ voices, whose choral forms gave major intensity to the piece in its entirety. In the later years the “Cha Cha Cha” success reached unforeseen levels and gave birth to a great number of musicians and bands in Cuba, Mexico and United States: among them Enrique Jorrín and the Orquesta America with the piece “La Engañadora”(1953), René Touzetzet with “Amarren El Loco” a tune later renamed “El Loco Cha Cha”(1955-1956), Orquesta Aragònón with “El Bodeguero”(1957-1958), Joe Cuba’ss sextet with “Wabble Cha”(1962) and also Tito Puente with “Oye Como Va”(1963).

 

 

 

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[Bolero - Maurice Ravel (1928)]