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Afro-Cuban All Stars Tickets, Tour Dates and Concerts
Afro-Cuban All Stars Tickets, Tour Dates and Concerts

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About Afro-Cuban All Stars

After gaining international fame for reviving the classic sound of Cuban son, tres master Juan de Marcos turned the Afro-Cuban All Stars into a sensational showcase for Cuba’s most prodigious young musicians. While long revered in Latin America and Europe as a founding member of Cuba’s great son revival band Sierra Maestra, de Marcos first gained notice in the US as founder, bandleader, musical director and co-producer of the Buena Vista Social Club. It was de Marcos –with the helping hand of his assistant Gliceria Abreu, who assembled Ibrahim Ferrer, Manuel Licea (Puntillita), Pio Leyva, Raul Planas, Eliades Ochoa, Ruben Gonzalez and the rest of the crew for Nick Gold (World Circuit Records), when he came to Havana to produce a couple of albums with illustrious old timers. But de Marcos is just as interested in promoting Cuba’s brilliant young musicians as in highlighting Cuba’s senior talent. The Afro-Cuban All Stars not only features a rotating, multi-generational cast; the group draws on both classic Cuban styles (like son or danzón), and contemporary dance rhythms like timba. “What I’m trying to do is create a bridge between contemporary and traditional Cuban music,” de Marcos says. “I’m trying to mix both things so people can realize that Cuban music didn’t stop in time, that it developed in this long period when Cuban music disappeared from the market.”

Juan de Marcos was born in Havana in 1954 and grew up surrounded by music (his father was a singer and played with the great Arsenio Rodríguez among others). At university he studied hydraulic engineering and Russian before working as a professor at the Agronomic Science Institute, gaining his doctorate in 1990. While at university he co-founded the group Sierra Maestra in 1976. Styled as a traditional Cuban septeto group (tres, trumpet, bass, percussion and vocals), the dynamic young band’s aim was to bring about an appreciation of Cuban Son by the youth of the island. The band achieved great success, recording fourteen albums in Cuba, touring Africa and Europe and receiving various awards.

In 1994, Juan de Marcos began his association with the London based record label World Circuit, when the band recorded the album ‘¡Dundunbanza!’ (WCD041), a tribute to Arsenio Rodríguez. Having found success and a common ground, de Marcos and Gold looked to develop this understanding further with a big band recording in Havana, featuring the neglected stars of this ‘golden age’ of Cuban music.

Juan de Marcos had long harbored a dream to put together a band combining the ‘old masters’ and the new generation of Cuban musicians. “I wanted to mix the generations so there is the experience of the older guys and the energy of the younger players”, says Juan. He went in search of his heroes and found many of them ‘retired’ from music, forgotten figures delighted that someone was showing faith in them. He recruited the singers Manuel ‘Puntillita’ Licea, Pío Leiva and Raúl Planas, all in their seventies. Despite the doubts of others in his ability to still reach the heights, he approached the legendary pianist Rubén González, an old friend of his dad. Rubén did not own a piano, so Juan found him a place to practice and a new piano and encouraged him to rehearse with his chosen bass player, Orlando ‘Cachaíto’ López. Juan continued to assemble his dream band and the AFRO-CUBAN ALL STARS were born.

Juan de Marcos and Gold planned to record two albums in Havana’s EGREM studios in 1997: the debut from the All Stars and a collaboration between West African and Eastern Cuban musicians for which Gold had invited Ry Cooder as producer. Due to passport complications the African musicians were unable to travel to the island. However, the two week recording trip yielded an extraordinary trio of albums: The debut albums of the AFRO-CUBAN ALL STARS ‘A Toda Cuba le Gusta’ and RUBEN GONZALEZ’ ‘Introducing Ruben Gonzalez’ and the BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB.

The All Stars album was the first to be recorded and Juan de Marcos’s band provided both the springboard and many of the musicians for the Buena Vista album that followed. The All Stars’ rhythm section was retained along with the band’s trumpet soloist ‘Guajiro’ Mirabal, pianist Rubén González and various singers, including the outstanding (and younger) sonero Felix Baloy. The excellent Santiago de Cuba guitarist and singer Eliades Ochoa, the living legend Compay Segundo and the great laoud player Barbarito Torres had already been recruited at Gold’s suggestion.

The day after the All Stars album was completed Ry Cooder arrived in Havana to be greeted by this ensemble for the start of what was to become the Buena Vista Social Club. Other musicians were added during the sessions including the singer Ibrahim Ferrer (who was at the time also ‘retired’) whom Gliceria and Juan, under Barbarito suggestion, contacted and brought to the studio within hours of Cooder’s request for a ‘singer with a soft voice’. Juan de Marcos acted as A & R, arranger, musical director and conductor during the sessions and when Gold suggested making an album with Rubén González in the two days remaining, Juan was recruited as musical director for that project as well. In 1998-2000, he also collaborated on the debut albums by Ibrahim Ferrer, Orlando “Cachaito” Lopez and Omara Portuondo.

Following the albums’ release Juan de Marcos led the Afro-Cuban All Stars and Rubén González on their debut European and U.S. tours and directed the only ever three original Buena Vista Social Club concerts in Amsterdam´s Le Carre and New York’s Carnegie Hall.

Despite the new-found worldwide success of Cuban music, it is the appreciation of the music within Cuba itself that Juan de Marcos finds most satisfying. “When you live in an isolated country you always think things are better elsewhere. Because of that the influence of foreign music has been very strong. People were trying to play American music (Jazz, Pop, Rock) before they learned Cuban music. We have to use what is good from around the world, but first we have to be conscious of the importance of our own music. A few years ago young Cuban musicians didn’t care about real Cuban music. Now there are hundreds of bands playing traditional music. Of course music will change, there will be new dances and styles. But we are going to keep the roots. I am very confident about that.”

The impact of these albums internationally would also affect the music industry in Cuba; not only did it resurrect the career of several ‘forgotten’ legends, but left the record buying public worldwide with an appetite for Cuban music, and a receptiveness to new recordings that previously didn’t exist.

As for the Afro-Cuban All Stars, they evolved from being a musical dream, to a one-off recording, to the formation of a full-time touring and recording group. From 1997 to 1999, this was the band that presented worldwide the albums recorded during the sessions. At the end of 1999, because of the huge amount of offers received, impossible to accept with only one band, De Marcos and Gold created a new ensemble for Ibrahim Ferrer and Ruben Gonzalez and named it “Buenavista Social Club”.

Having been instrumental in the formation of the project, Juan de Marcos moved center stage with his new edition Afro-Cuban All Stars and their ambitious new, forward-looking album ‘Distinto, diferente’. “We have to use all the heritage of Cuban music to create a sound of the future,” says Juan. “It’s important to have that continuity and to fight for the identity of Cuban music.” Whilst retaining the stars of the debut album, the follow up record brought in some additional legendary figures of Cuban music including Omara Portuondo, Lina Borges, Polo Tamayo, Jesús ‘Aguaje’ Ramos, and Amadito Valdés. Some prominent names from current generation of Cuban music such as Orlando ‘Maracas’ Valle, David Alfaro, and Yaure Muñiz, showcased their talents on this album. The result is again multi-generational but with a sound much closer to the vanguard of Cuban dance music, with lyrics – in some cases – that have even greater social relevance now.

Juan de Marcos is not a man to stand still and although he will continue his association with World Circuit, Juan formed his own production company/ record label, ‘DM Ahora Records’ to deal with the wealth of talent in Cuba. In addition to his continued involvement with the development of Cuban music, Juan de Marcos has also maintained the Afro-Cuban All Stars as an active touring band, performing to ecstatic audiences around the globe. 2004 saw the release of a live CD/DVD from the group, and the accompanying tour included a series of concerts with World Circuit’s Senegalese superstars Orchestra Baobab. The long awaited third studio album from the group ‘Step Forward’ was released in 2005 on DM Ahora, and the group embarked on a world tour continuing through 2006. From 2006 to the date, the Afro-Cuban All Stars have recorded the albums “Live in Japan”, “Absolutely Live” and “Absolutely Live II”. Juan de Marcos has also produced the albums “Afro-Cuban All Stars presents Felix Baloy”, “Bajando Gervasio”, featuring Amadito Valdes and released in his own label the productions “Goza Pepillo” by Interactivo and “A diario” by Telmary. He has combined his work as bandleader, arranger and producer with his academic work as lectures at many universities around the globe.

From what direction the Afro-Cuban All Stars go in next remains to be seen, but with Juan de Marcos at the helm, one can be sure they are in safe hands.

SOME QUOTES

“Shaping the future of Cuban music”, The Sunday Times
“A wildly dynamic demonstration piece”, The Times
“Shows that Cuban music is in rude health.”, New Internationalist
“Bracing and completely convincing.”, The Daily Telegraph
“A manifesto for the future”, The Morning Star
“A powerful band”, The Guardian Guide
“An exuberant mix. Cuban music is alive and kicking”, Metro
“Will definitely put you in the mood for sunshine.”, The Big Issue
“A pivotal role in bringing Cuban music to the world”, New Stateman
“A powerful statement on intent.”, Jazzwise
“A fantastic group”, Folks & Roots
“The Quincy Jones of Cuban music.”, Songlines
“A social club for the next generation”, Conde Nast Traveller
“Brings Cuban big band firmly into the new millennium”, Choice Mag
“Music to make you dance”, Zurban France
“16 great musicians from the new generation”, Le Figaro France
“A breath of fresh air”, Mondomix France
“A big band that dares walking forward”, Westfaelische Rundschau Germany
“A Brilliant band”, Mitarbeiter Magazin Germany
“Top quality”, Jazzthing Germany
“Perfect”, NRK Radio Norway
“A must see group”, Bergensavisen Norway
“A top notch release with high level of musicianship”, Helsinkin Sonomat
Finland
“…a compilation of all those trends that the youth in Havana considers to
be hip: from danceable Timba to afro-cuban dance and other modern
genres which speak the language of jazz.”, Jazzthing, Germany
“A modern cuban round dance full of passion.”´, AUDIO, Germany
“A feast for the ears.”, Berliner Morgenpost, Germany
“A step into the future.”, TIP-Magazin, Berlin
“Marcos carefully adds funk grooves, jazz brass players, etc., to the tradition
(Son, Bolero, Guaracha) and delivers the Cuban soundworld from its
persistence.”, Folk & Roots, Germany
“Gonzalez has probably done more tan any other person to bring traditional Cuban music to audiences outside the island”, Miami Herald
Whenever musicologists study the colorful sounds of the Cuban diáspora, it´s nearly imposible for them not to mention Juan de Marcos Gonzalez and his Afro-Cuban All Stars, Village Voice



“De Marcos guided his band with a 􀃗nesse and fury, similar to that of a painter 􀃗rmly in the grasp of passionate inspiration. He watched the crowd like a hawk, at times smiling and gyrating, anddemonstrating that he is still very much a spry and energetic musician who still has that mischievous spark burning within him”, Halifax Music
“Juan de Marcos González is the bandleader and producer who helped make global
superstars of some of Cuba’s most soulful, if overlooked, veterans……. More than two decades later, González is keeping the flame of Cuba’s melting-pot music traditions
alive with his own globetrotting ensemble. While the average age skews a little lower thanks to his two young daughters on clarinet and vibraphone, the result is just as transportive, bringing a blast of sun-baked sultriness to Celtic Connections festival”, The Guardian
“Juan de Marcos Gonzalez, of course, was the man who hand-picked the musicians for Ry Cooder’s Buena Vista Social Club recording, at about the same time that he brought together the frst incarnation of the Afro-Cuban All Stars. While Buena Vista referenced Cuban country and the bolero tradition, the big and brassy All Stars paid homage to the great Cuban orchestras.”, Billboard
Show More
Genres:
Son, World Music, Afro-cuban Jazz, Latin, Salsa
Hometown:
Havana, Cuba

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About Afro-Cuban All Stars

After gaining international fame for reviving the classic sound of Cuban son, tres master Juan de Marcos turned the Afro-Cuban All Stars into a sensational showcase for Cuba’s most prodigious young musicians. While long revered in Latin America and Europe as a founding member of Cuba’s great son revival band Sierra Maestra, de Marcos first gained notice in the US as founder, bandleader, musical director and co-producer of the Buena Vista Social Club. It was de Marcos –with the helping hand of his assistant Gliceria Abreu, who assembled Ibrahim Ferrer, Manuel Licea (Puntillita), Pio Leyva, Raul Planas, Eliades Ochoa, Ruben Gonzalez and the rest of the crew for Nick Gold (World Circuit Records), when he came to Havana to produce a couple of albums with illustrious old timers. But de Marcos is just as interested in promoting Cuba’s brilliant young musicians as in highlighting Cuba’s senior talent. The Afro-Cuban All Stars not only features a rotating, multi-generational cast; the group draws on both classic Cuban styles (like son or danzón), and contemporary dance rhythms like timba. “What I’m trying to do is create a bridge between contemporary and traditional Cuban music,” de Marcos says. “I’m trying to mix both things so people can realize that Cuban music didn’t stop in time, that it developed in this long period when Cuban music disappeared from the market.”

Juan de Marcos was born in Havana in 1954 and grew up surrounded by music (his father was a singer and played with the great Arsenio Rodríguez among others). At university he studied hydraulic engineering and Russian before working as a professor at the Agronomic Science Institute, gaining his doctorate in 1990. While at university he co-founded the group Sierra Maestra in 1976. Styled as a traditional Cuban septeto group (tres, trumpet, bass, percussion and vocals), the dynamic young band’s aim was to bring about an appreciation of Cuban Son by the youth of the island. The band achieved great success, recording fourteen albums in Cuba, touring Africa and Europe and receiving various awards.

In 1994, Juan de Marcos began his association with the London based record label World Circuit, when the band recorded the album ‘¡Dundunbanza!’ (WCD041), a tribute to Arsenio Rodríguez. Having found success and a common ground, de Marcos and Gold looked to develop this understanding further with a big band recording in Havana, featuring the neglected stars of this ‘golden age’ of Cuban music.

Juan de Marcos had long harbored a dream to put together a band combining the ‘old masters’ and the new generation of Cuban musicians. “I wanted to mix the generations so there is the experience of the older guys and the energy of the younger players”, says Juan. He went in search of his heroes and found many of them ‘retired’ from music, forgotten figures delighted that someone was showing faith in them. He recruited the singers Manuel ‘Puntillita’ Licea, Pío Leiva and Raúl Planas, all in their seventies. Despite the doubts of others in his ability to still reach the heights, he approached the legendary pianist Rubén González, an old friend of his dad. Rubén did not own a piano, so Juan found him a place to practice and a new piano and encouraged him to rehearse with his chosen bass player, Orlando ‘Cachaíto’ López. Juan continued to assemble his dream band and the AFRO-CUBAN ALL STARS were born.

Juan de Marcos and Gold planned to record two albums in Havana’s EGREM studios in 1997: the debut from the All Stars and a collaboration between West African and Eastern Cuban musicians for which Gold had invited Ry Cooder as producer. Due to passport complications the African musicians were unable to travel to the island. However, the two week recording trip yielded an extraordinary trio of albums: The debut albums of the AFRO-CUBAN ALL STARS ‘A Toda Cuba le Gusta’ and RUBEN GONZALEZ’ ‘Introducing Ruben Gonzalez’ and the BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB.

The All Stars album was the first to be recorded and Juan de Marcos’s band provided both the springboard and many of the musicians for the Buena Vista album that followed. The All Stars’ rhythm section was retained along with the band’s trumpet soloist ‘Guajiro’ Mirabal, pianist Rubén González and various singers, including the outstanding (and younger) sonero Felix Baloy. The excellent Santiago de Cuba guitarist and singer Eliades Ochoa, the living legend Compay Segundo and the great laoud player Barbarito Torres had already been recruited at Gold’s suggestion.

The day after the All Stars album was completed Ry Cooder arrived in Havana to be greeted by this ensemble for the start of what was to become the Buena Vista Social Club. Other musicians were added during the sessions including the singer Ibrahim Ferrer (who was at the time also ‘retired’) whom Gliceria and Juan, under Barbarito suggestion, contacted and brought to the studio within hours of Cooder’s request for a ‘singer with a soft voice’. Juan de Marcos acted as A & R, arranger, musical director and conductor during the sessions and when Gold suggested making an album with Rubén González in the two days remaining, Juan was recruited as musical director for that project as well. In 1998-2000, he also collaborated on the debut albums by Ibrahim Ferrer, Orlando “Cachaito” Lopez and Omara Portuondo.

Following the albums’ release Juan de Marcos led the Afro-Cuban All Stars and Rubén González on their debut European and U.S. tours and directed the only ever three original Buena Vista Social Club concerts in Amsterdam´s Le Carre and New York’s Carnegie Hall.

Despite the new-found worldwide success of Cuban music, it is the appreciation of the music within Cuba itself that Juan de Marcos finds most satisfying. “When you live in an isolated country you always think things are better elsewhere. Because of that the influence of foreign music has been very strong. People were trying to play American music (Jazz, Pop, Rock) before they learned Cuban music. We have to use what is good from around the world, but first we have to be conscious of the importance of our own music. A few years ago young Cuban musicians didn’t care about real Cuban music. Now there are hundreds of bands playing traditional music. Of course music will change, there will be new dances and styles. But we are going to keep the roots. I am very confident about that.”

The impact of these albums internationally would also affect the music industry in Cuba; not only did it resurrect the career of several ‘forgotten’ legends, but left the record buying public worldwide with an appetite for Cuban music, and a receptiveness to new recordings that previously didn’t exist.

As for the Afro-Cuban All Stars, they evolved from being a musical dream, to a one-off recording, to the formation of a full-time touring and recording group. From 1997 to 1999, this was the band that presented worldwide the albums recorded during the sessions. At the end of 1999, because of the huge amount of offers received, impossible to accept with only one band, De Marcos and Gold created a new ensemble for Ibrahim Ferrer and Ruben Gonzalez and named it “Buenavista Social Club”.

Having been instrumental in the formation of the project, Juan de Marcos moved center stage with his new edition Afro-Cuban All Stars and their ambitious new, forward-looking album ‘Distinto, diferente’. “We have to use all the heritage of Cuban music to create a sound of the future,” says Juan. “It’s important to have that continuity and to fight for the identity of Cuban music.” Whilst retaining the stars of the debut album, the follow up record brought in some additional legendary figures of Cuban music including Omara Portuondo, Lina Borges, Polo Tamayo, Jesús ‘Aguaje’ Ramos, and Amadito Valdés. Some prominent names from current generation of Cuban music such as Orlando ‘Maracas’ Valle, David Alfaro, and Yaure Muñiz, showcased their talents on this album. The result is again multi-generational but with a sound much closer to the vanguard of Cuban dance music, with lyrics – in some cases – that have even greater social relevance now.

Juan de Marcos is not a man to stand still and although he will continue his association with World Circuit, Juan formed his own production company/ record label, ‘DM Ahora Records’ to deal with the wealth of talent in Cuba. In addition to his continued involvement with the development of Cuban music, Juan de Marcos has also maintained the Afro-Cuban All Stars as an active touring band, performing to ecstatic audiences around the globe. 2004 saw the release of a live CD/DVD from the group, and the accompanying tour included a series of concerts with World Circuit’s Senegalese superstars Orchestra Baobab. The long awaited third studio album from the group ‘Step Forward’ was released in 2005 on DM Ahora, and the group embarked on a world tour continuing through 2006. From 2006 to the date, the Afro-Cuban All Stars have recorded the albums “Live in Japan”, “Absolutely Live” and “Absolutely Live II”. Juan de Marcos has also produced the albums “Afro-Cuban All Stars presents Felix Baloy”, “Bajando Gervasio”, featuring Amadito Valdes and released in his own label the productions “Goza Pepillo” by Interactivo and “A diario” by Telmary. He has combined his work as bandleader, arranger and producer with his academic work as lectures at many universities around the globe.

From what direction the Afro-Cuban All Stars go in next remains to be seen, but with Juan de Marcos at the helm, one can be sure they are in safe hands.

SOME QUOTES

“Shaping the future of Cuban music”, The Sunday Times
“A wildly dynamic demonstration piece”, The Times
“Shows that Cuban music is in rude health.”, New Internationalist
“Bracing and completely convincing.”, The Daily Telegraph
“A manifesto for the future”, The Morning Star
“A powerful band”, The Guardian Guide
“An exuberant mix. Cuban music is alive and kicking”, Metro
“Will definitely put you in the mood for sunshine.”, The Big Issue
“A pivotal role in bringing Cuban music to the world”, New Stateman
“A powerful statement on intent.”, Jazzwise
“A fantastic group”, Folks & Roots
“The Quincy Jones of Cuban music.”, Songlines
“A social club for the next generation”, Conde Nast Traveller
“Brings Cuban big band firmly into the new millennium”, Choice Mag
“Music to make you dance”, Zurban France
“16 great musicians from the new generation”, Le Figaro France
“A breath of fresh air”, Mondomix France
“A big band that dares walking forward”, Westfaelische Rundschau Germany
“A Brilliant band”, Mitarbeiter Magazin Germany
“Top quality”, Jazzthing Germany
“Perfect”, NRK Radio Norway
“A must see group”, Bergensavisen Norway
“A top notch release with high level of musicianship”, Helsinkin Sonomat
Finland
“…a compilation of all those trends that the youth in Havana considers to
be hip: from danceable Timba to afro-cuban dance and other modern
genres which speak the language of jazz.”, Jazzthing, Germany
“A modern cuban round dance full of passion.”´, AUDIO, Germany
“A feast for the ears.”, Berliner Morgenpost, Germany
“A step into the future.”, TIP-Magazin, Berlin
“Marcos carefully adds funk grooves, jazz brass players, etc., to the tradition
(Son, Bolero, Guaracha) and delivers the Cuban soundworld from its
persistence.”, Folk & Roots, Germany
“Gonzalez has probably done more tan any other person to bring traditional Cuban music to audiences outside the island”, Miami Herald
Whenever musicologists study the colorful sounds of the Cuban diáspora, it´s nearly imposible for them not to mention Juan de Marcos Gonzalez and his Afro-Cuban All Stars, Village Voice



“De Marcos guided his band with a 􀃗nesse and fury, similar to that of a painter 􀃗rmly in the grasp of passionate inspiration. He watched the crowd like a hawk, at times smiling and gyrating, anddemonstrating that he is still very much a spry and energetic musician who still has that mischievous spark burning within him”, Halifax Music
“Juan de Marcos González is the bandleader and producer who helped make global
superstars of some of Cuba’s most soulful, if overlooked, veterans……. More than two decades later, González is keeping the flame of Cuba’s melting-pot music traditions
alive with his own globetrotting ensemble. While the average age skews a little lower thanks to his two young daughters on clarinet and vibraphone, the result is just as transportive, bringing a blast of sun-baked sultriness to Celtic Connections festival”, The Guardian
“Juan de Marcos Gonzalez, of course, was the man who hand-picked the musicians for Ry Cooder’s Buena Vista Social Club recording, at about the same time that he brought together the frst incarnation of the Afro-Cuban All Stars. While Buena Vista referenced Cuban country and the bolero tradition, the big and brassy All Stars paid homage to the great Cuban orchestras.”, Billboard
Show More
Genres:
Son, World Music, Afro-cuban Jazz, Latin, Salsa
Hometown:
Havana, Cuba

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