From Havana to Key West is a distance of about 100 miles. However within the mid-Seventies, the cultural visitors between the US and Cuba was at a standstill, choked off by the American boycott and, on the Cuban facet, by the calls for of cultural apparatchiks. And but, within the decade coated by this compilation of tracks largely unheard outdoors the nation till now, Cuban musicians invented their very own type of musical modernism, borrowing from and mutating the improvements of jazz and funk into one thing distinctive. The tracks right here, alive with percussion and digital keyboards, sound extra aggressively exploratory than the pre-revolutionary revivalism of Buena Vista Social Membership or the classicism of a lot modern Cuban music.
As Dmitri Shostakovich might have warned his Caribbean counterparts, governments that take an extreme curiosity in music might be as dangerous as people who take too little. Pre-revolutionary Cuba was a major exporter of music, from rumba and mambo to pachanga; the Batista regime hosted lodge nightclubs that lured People — real-life variations of Sky Masterson from Guys and Dolls — to weekends in Havana. All that modified after 1959. Musicians grew to become state workers; within the cultural politics of the Chilly Warfare, the Soviet bloc emphasised realism and folks tradition whereas the west neatly appropriated modernism and, particularly, trendy jazz. The trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, for instance, was threatened with imprisonment for listening to American jazz on the radio.
For propaganda functions, within the late Nineteen Sixties the authorities arrange the Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna, which asset-stripped all of the island’s main ensembles for a repertoire that competed with the People with out ever explicitly admitting it. When OCMM dissolved in 1973, its alumni shaped Grupo Irakere, popularising the foreign-influenced music whereas holding inside strict pointers: cymbals, for instance, have been prohibited however congas and cowbells have been acceptable. Los Van Van, a gaggle which additionally achieved worldwide recognition, gave a rock enhance to charanga. One other authorities entity, Grupo de Experimentación Sonora del ICAIC, have been in impact the home band of the Cuban movie business: the collective’s contributions right here have a woozy religious jazz circulation at odds with stereotype. Elsewhere the feminine trio Las D’Aida harmonise righteously; Los 5-U-4 ship a concise psychedelic nugget, and the driving horns and low croon of Eduardo Ramos’s “Vocación Revolución” hearth up agitprop.
‘Cuba: Music and Revolution’ is launched by Soul Jazz