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: