Gilles Peterson Presents Havana Cultura – New Cuba Sound


Gilles Peterson presents Havana Cultura / The project

Gilles Peterson Presents "Havana Cultura"
Gilles Peterson Presents "Havana Cultura"

Gilles Peterson: I got the call about a year ago now. A trip to Cuba in September ’08 to check out the new generation of Havana-based artists. What a great opportunity! I’d never been before and had literally only just stepped out of the cinema having watched the Che movie. But would there be anything going on outside of Buena Vista, rumba and reggaeton? I was about to find out.

I was only there for a few days, not even the weekend, but shifting quickly through 1950’s Chevrolet gears with Yuset and Francois by my side, we rifled through the city picking up sounds in every nook and cranny. I heard Obsesion on my first night there, Ogguere were introduced on the second and by Wednesday I’d heard most of the tracks that have made it onto CD2. With rum, fried chicken and “Hollywoods” featuring heavily in my daily routine, there was just enough time to meet Cuban dons like Bobby Carcasses and Roberto Fonseca before returning to London.

The project then paused as the non-communist world hit a financial brick wall but, come the spring of ’09, I was preparing for a 5-day Egrem Studios love-in. Vince was my co-producer (I’d met him just a few days before in an Old Street basement where I was spinning) and Roberto Fonseca was my overall saviour and chief of operations with Orestes by his side conducting the desk. The band was Fonseca’s and the groove was free. I had a few covers as starters: one from Fela to capture that true Afro-Cuban fusion; a Blue Note joint as a 70th anniversary gift; and a couple of Cuban faves from my Electric Ballroom days – ‘Chekere Son’ and some Juan Pablo Torres. The rest was pretty much controlled jamming, picking up the Rumba boys from the bar below, or convincing Mayra Valdes to hit it freestyle. So many fond memories – hearing Danay sing for the first time, record shopping with Doble Filo, Ogguere vibesing the set, Obsesion dropping science Cuban style about Dilla…

What a week we had in this iconic spot. I feel so blessed to have worked with these guys – folk who take their art very seriously, but always with a smile at the end of the session. I hope you enjoy the fruits of our labour.

Gilles Peterson Presents Havana Cultura
Gilles Peterson Presents Havana Cultura

Preview tracks from “Gilles Peterson Presents Havana Cultura at Gilles Peterson’s Myspace

Brownswood Recordings proudly announce a new project bringing the best of a new generation of Cuban Musicians together to create an incredible album of modern Cuban Urban music.

World renowned globetrotting DJ, broadcaster and tastemaker, Gilles Peterson teamed up with the award winning Cuban jazz pianist, Roberto Fonseca, to find the very best up and coming musical talent in Havana. 12 months in the making it represents the biggest collection of contemporary Cuban musicians in a single musical initiative since the highly acclaimed launch of Buena Vista Social Club in 1997.

Featuring the work of over 20 musicians and artists recorded across 28 tracks, the double CD album is a celebration of Cuba’s freshest musical talent from latin, afro jazz and fusion to hip hop, funk, reggaeton and R&B. The album includes a collection of new material written and recorded in Havana by undiscovered local street and urban musicians such as vocalist Danay (described by Gilles Peterson as “Cuba’s Jill Scott”) and Doble Filo as well as international award winning artists such as rapper Kumar and pianist Roberto Fonseca. Fans of Cuban music will also recognise a number of traditional Cuban classics such as Chekere Son, which have been carefully re-recorded by Gilles Peterson.

The album was recorded in the world famous Egrem studios in Havana, where all the major figures of the Cuban music scene have recorded including Beny Moré, Arsenio Rodriguez and Buena Vista Social Club. It is the latest in a series of cultural projects from Havana-Cultura, which has been designed to give artists in Havana a global voice via the website

As well as videos of many of the artists involved in the album, including the legendary pianist Roberto Fonseca, the website also showcases wider artistic talent including dancers, writers and visual artists. The launch of the album sees celebrated Cuban artist Alexandre Arrechea commissioned via the website to develop the artwork for the album’s cover. The resulting design reflects the roots of the artist, which can be found in the scrutiny of local Havana power structures and architecture.

The album will be available worldwide from 26th October on Brownswood Recordings. It is a double album consisting of one CD of brand new recordings produced by Gilles Peterson jointly with Roberto Fonseca and Vince Vella and the second CD a compilation of Gilles’s favourite current and recent Cuban music.


The Havana Cultura Band

Roberto Fonseca: A giant of the global jazz community, Roberto’s reputation belies his years. Born in 1975 in Havana, he has shared the stage with Cuban legends such as Rubén González, Ibrahim Ferrer and Omara Portuondo, and toured the world alongside the likes of Cachaíto López, Guajiro Mirabal and Manuel Galbán. Integrating influences from Afro-Cuban music, jazz, classical and traditional Cuban music, he plays the piano with such awe-inspiring sensitivity to the melody and rhythmic forces that marry the musical cultures of America, Brazil and Cuba.

Yaroldy Abreu: Simply one of the finest and virtuoso percussionist in the world, the heartbeat of Irakere and the Chucho Valdes quartet. Yaroldy is truly pushing the boundaries of percussion, He knows every trick in the book and some that are probably not.

Ramses Rodriguez: Incredible drummer! Swings and blends cuban and jazz rhythms like no other, always evolving and inventing new tricks. He played with Chucho Valdes’ quartet for several years before joining Roberto Fonseca’s band

Javier Zalba: Old skool wizard sax and flute player. Ex Irakere, he is one of the founders of Temperamento, the first Roberto Fonseca band.

Omar Gonzalez: one of the best and most versatile bass player in Cuba, Omar has played with the biggest names in Cuban music before joining Roberto’s band.

Yelfris Valdes: amazing young trumpet player, he is part of the legendary Sierra Maestra band, this player a truly distinctive beautiful sound.

Vince Vella: DJ, producer and percussionist Vince Vella blends a deep knowledge and understanding of Afro-Cuban rhythms with many other different styles. He received guidance from the late Tata Guines (mentor to the late Anga Diaz), 4 Hero, Changuito, and Yaroldi, among many others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *