Sharps & Flats

Caravana Cubana, a handful of seasoned island music vets, out-spice "Buena Vista Social Club."

Topics: Music,

Sharps & Flats

It was inevitable that, after the success of “Buena Vista Social Club” (the album, the tour, the movie, the after-dinner mint), a self-determined Cuban revival would take place and we’d get flooded with albums that “embrace the spirit of the Social Club.” What wasn’t inevitable was that one of them would actually be better than “Buena Vista.”

With a lineup of Cuban-American and Afro-Cuban musicians like Francisco Aguabella (a conga player and percussionist who is enjoying a bit of a popular revival on his own), bassist Al McKibbon, trombonist Jimmy Bosch and the legendary pianist Chucho Valdes, Caravana Cubana is less a band than a loose-knit group of like-minded musicians. With sessions taking place in Los Angeles throughout the late summer of 1998, Caravana Cubana was exactly the same sort of reunion sessions that “Buena Vista” was, bringing together musicians (from both Cuba and the States) with long mutual histories as well as some new faces. The result is a remarkably loose and swinging affair that simply beams with musical joy.

You Might Also Like

However, where “Late Night Sessions” succeeds over its unmentioned predecessor is the infusion of new Cuban blood (such as the youngsters in Bamboleo) and the unmistakable energy that the younger players add to the sessions. On tracks like “Una Rumba Con Dos Tres” and “Anga Y Jimmy,” the interplay is spectacular, and as a result, the songs are powerfully rump-shakable. However, the old guys can certainly hold their own, too. On the lengthy “Afrekete Suite” (a three-part homage to Yemaya, the goddess of the sea) and “Chucho Carabali” (driven primarily by Valdes’ expressive piano work), they prove that they’re far from nostalgic and wind up pushing the genre a lot further than you’d expect.

Nonetheless, “Late Night Sessions” ultimately boils down to a good time, because, to be sure, all the musicians involved had a good time. And now, that same thing can be had by folks who care more about doing the rumba than they do about raft boy Elian Gonzalez.

Jason Ferguson is a freelance music writer in South Carolina.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>