The 12-member Havana Cuba All-Stars acoustic band comes to town on November 10 to showcase the wide range of musical sounds that are part of the island country’s rich history. Presented at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, “Cuban Nights” is a program that’s part of the band’s The Asere Friendship Tour (Asere: the Cuban word for “friendship”) of the United States and Canada.
“We have some new songs by band members that have been written keeping true to traditional Cuban sound, as well as some old songs,” explains Michel Padron, the band leader and a trumpeter.
The musicians play a variety of instruments- including drums, trombone, steel guitar, bongos, congas, violins and bass- to communicate new and traditional son, which is a style of music combining Spanish song and Afro-Cuban rhythms that originated in Cuba. Before the 1920s the son was accompanied by a band of percussive and rhythmic instruments. By the late 1920s the trumpet was added to the band.
Traditionally, the son has two parts. It opens with a verse and is followed by an improvisational section featuring a singer and a chorus.
On the program are a variety of son, from “Changui Pa Mi Gente,” that has French-Haitian roots, to “Tumbao Sangreao,” which is a contemporary piece about what Cuba is like today. The musicians also play “Cacha Cha Cha Cha” with a popular cha-cha-cha rhythm known worldwide.
“Cuban songs are either about love or dance,”Padron adds. “The good thing is you can dance to either. You will be encouraged to dance at the concert.”