Songs for the Road No. 6: A Soundtrack for a Cuban Roadtrip

by Ekua on September 11, 2010 in Cuba,songs for the road

I wasn’t always interested in Afro-Latin music. In fact, as a kid, I used to dread Sunday afternoons when my parents would listen to a Latin music program on the local public radio jazz station that went on for hours. But fortunately, time brought me an expansion of tastes, and several years ago, I had an Afro-Latin music awakening. Soon, my distaste for the genre transformed into appreciation. And then appreciation grew into love.

Afro-Latin music just makes sense to me. It takes West African music, adds some European influence, and sprinkles in some other cultures. It’s a kind of mash up that is akin to my life story.

I was recently asked if I heard really good music in Cuba and how it compared to the live Cuban music I’ve seen here. It doesn’t compare. The fluency with which people play there and the absorption of the environment into the music made the shows I saw in Cuba several times more amazing than anything I’ve seen in the States.

And the same entanglement with the people and the landscape that made the live music so incredible also made the Cuban(ish) music I brought to listen to perfect for the time we spent on the road observing and discovering Cuba. Here are some of my favorites:

» Ibrahim Ferrer – Candela

» Celia Cruz – La Vida Es Un Carnaval

» Orishas – 537 C.U.B.A.

» Yerba Buena – La Candela

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Herb September 11, 2010 at 5:34 pm

When I started reading and hadn’t scrolled down, I was going to rec Buenvista Social Club, the dvd doc is great, hope you have seen it, and of course we have the cd and now we are at anchor I might que it up. Living in Miami 15 years gave us an appreciation of Cuban beat. Love latin jazz. and Brazilian too. Have you been to Miami?


Ekua September 12, 2010 at 11:43 am

Yup, I have the Buena Vista doc and the CD too. I visited Miami very briefly during a six hour layover, but it wasn’t for fun. That is quite an interesting story in itself, so I won’t get into the details of that right now 😉


Fly Girl September 13, 2010 at 8:54 am

Oh! All of my faves here! Especially La Reina Celia and Orishas. Cuban music is one of my favorite genres, glad you came around!


Ekua September 17, 2010 at 12:31 am

Me too… Afro-Latin music has become such a big part of my life, so glad I expanded my musical tastes!


lara dunston September 16, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Great post! So fabulous to have discovered you! Thank you so much for the RTs of our tweets too!

I miss Cuba. Haven’t been in 15 years, but went twice and saw it change dramatically over a period of 2 years – a tad scared to return. Enjoying reading your posts.

Absolutely love Orishas! And of course the others too, but have a soft spot for Orishas, they really get me moving! We went to the Latin Alternative Music Conference Showcase performance in New York recently (that’s where we met Camilo Lara of Mexican Institute of Sound – see this interview with him ) and we saw a band play with one of the guys from Orishas. Amazing!! I’ll look up the name of it for you if you don’t know it – it’s a new project apparently.

You might like our Playlist series which is similar – soundtracks to places that we ask locals to put together – musicians, music buffs, record store owners etc:


Ekua September 17, 2010 at 12:36 am

It would be great to have the name of the band that played with a member of the Orishas and any other music recommendations! I have been looking to add new artists to my music collection.

What a cool concept for a blog series!


GRRRL TRAVELER September 20, 2010 at 2:04 pm

You just reminded me that I have Candela in my iTunes! Thanks. I also like Orishas. Thanks for introducing new music to me. I’ve been in music stuck-ness, playing the same things over and over. Needed new inspiration.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: