Both a latin music fan and passionate about Cuba, I could not miss last week Havana Cultura's party at parisian venue "l'Elysée Monmartre".
Gilles Peterson and several up and coming young Cuban musicians that all contributed to the recently released "Havana Cultura" double album (link here) were all in town for a 8pm to 2am free party sponsored by Radio Nova and a famous Cuban rum brand.
Two concerts took place during the evening on top of Gilles and RKK(Nova) latin dj-sets.
First cuban hip-hop singer Kumar supported by his band from Barcelona :
A 1-hour hip-hop performance with two singers, one Dj, one percussionist, 1 keyboard (rhodes) and 1 trumpet player.
The mixture of classic hip-hop beats with latin-style percussion and horns resulted in an enthusiastic show. Between a socially-conscious hip-hop reminiscent of Arrested Development and more ragga-style sounds, Kumar's crew quickly managed to get the crowd full attention (not always easy in this kind a free party where a part of the audience was not necessarily here because of the muscal line-up).
This young artist definitely deserves hip-hop fans attention.
The second concert hosted the Havana Cultura Band playing with hip-hop duo Ogguere and female singer Danay, also all present on Gilles Peterson's double album.
So 7 musicians (among which a classic horns section) and three singers on stage mixing classic latin-jazz vibes with truly contemporary hip-hop/soul flows. I particularly appreciated the live versions of the album highlight tracks : Fela Kuti's "Rofoforo Fight" and Donald Byrd "Twink Twice" fantastic covers.
A special mention for Danae, she's an incredibly gifted young singer full of sincerity and charm, I'm looking forward to her future productions once she'll have found a label.
Overall even if I was already convinced by the album before coming to this show, I felt that the live acts truly gave all its meaning to this project.
Gilles Peterson and the sponsors that worked with him on this project deserve a lot of credit for making this up-and-coming cuban scene better known to the international audience, I hope they'll be back in Europe soon for a longer tour.
In the meantime you can listen to this really interesting album to get an idea of what's going on in the rich and diverse cuban musical world!
Here is my favourite track from the album :
Discover the playlist Cuba with Gilles Peterson's Havana Cultura Band feat. Mayra Caridad Valdés
Thanks to Reg for the picture