Juan de Marcos: the Cuban Music Archeologist Back in the U.S.

The musical mastermind of the Buena Vista Social Club is still driving Cuban music to the forefront. Juan de Marcos Gonzalez, who has been a key contributor to the revival and internationalization of Cuban music, is back in the U.S. delighting audiences with anything from Afro-Cuban jazz to the traditional Cuban “son”. The maestro Juan de Marcos is also working on 3 new Cuban music projects, as he revealed in an exclusive interview with Latino Music Café.

Afro-Cuban All Stars Tours the U.S.

Cuban maestro Juan de Marcos is back in the U.S. after 2 years away to delight audience in concert halls from coast to coast, in towns with both large and discrete populations. With his group, the Afro-Cuban All Stars, Juan de Marcos started his 2013 U.S. tour in Seattle’s Jazz Alley, where he played 4 nights, and continued down the west coast to perform in cities in Oregon, California, and Texas. The Afro Cuban All Stars are now moving to the East coast, with scheduled appearances in Boston, Connecticut, New York, where the Afro Cuban will have its longer streak of performances in this tour when they visit the legendary Blue Note jazz club for 6 consecutive nights, before continuing to Pennsylvania, Delaware, Kentucky, and North Carolina, before ending the tour in Washington, D.C. (you can find the tour dates at the Afro Cuban All Stars web site HERE).

Juan de Marcos Gonzalez is the musical director of the Afro Cuban All Stars

The Afro Cuban All Stars can play anything the audience wants to listen. During the tour, there have been instances where Juan de Marcos has had to change the musical plan for the evening because audiences opted to convert concert halls in dancing halls. Their music can range from being intriguingly mesmerizing for listening to being rhythmically enticing for dancing.

Many stars of Cuban music have passed through Juan De Marco’s Afro Cuban All Stars. The alumni of the Buena Vista Social Club where the first to pass through the band, as that iconic project of Cuban music and the 1st recording of the Afro-Cuban All Stars (which was nominated for a Grammy in 1998) were done simultaneously, but with purposely different musical formats; the former with a more traditional Cuban sound, and the latter with a “big-band” line-up.

Juan de Marcos Looking to Resurrect More Cuban Legends

The maestro of resurrecting traditional Cuban music has plans for releasing 3 recordings in the near future, and amongst them, one for resurrecting more Cuban musical careers. Juan de Marcos has made a career of resurrecting Cuban music and artists. His 1st revival was the rescue of the decadent Cuban traditional “son”, when he formed the band “Sierra Maestra” back in 1976. The band dressed like a rock band (Juan de Marcos had been an avid fan of American and British rock before forming “Sierra Maestra”), but still played traditional “son”. With their young appearance, and supeb sound, the band became very popular, earning several awards while recording 14 albums.

The concurrent musical projects of the Buena Vista Social Club and the Afro-Cuban All Stars resurrected the career of legends of Cuban music like Ibrahim Ferrer, Compay Segundo, “filin queen” Omara Portuondo, Ruben Gonzalez, Orlando “Cachaito” Lopez, and others. You can see a video of the TV program “60 Minutes” on the “Buena Vista Social Club” HERE.

Now Juan de Marcos has 3 projects in the works:

  1. A contemporary Cuban music album, with the same trumpet and sax/clarinet format in the wind section as he has been touring with lately. This is a project that is already recorded and is pending the mixing part to be released.
  2. A traditional Cuban music album, in “big band” format similar to the Afro Cubans All Stars first project “A Toda Cuba Le Gusta”
  3. An album of different styles of Cuban music, with great (but mostly unknown) Cuban female singers residing in Miami, Cuba, and other parts of the world. There he goes again, looking to resurrect the careers of more Cuban music artists.

The definition of archeology is “The systematic study of past human life and culture by the recovery and examination of remaining material evidence”. The maestro Juan de Marcos Gonzalez been one of the main ambassadors of Cuban music around the world, by having studied the elements of music in general and Cuban music in particular, and by recovering the careers of great Cuban artists. With his Afro Cuban All Stars he brings us the Jazz, Contemporary, and Traditional versions of Cuban music for us to enjoy.

Latino Music Café Links:

Afro Cubans All Stars web site
Afro Cuban All Stars YouTube Channel

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