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Septeto Nacional de Cuba and Ignacio Piñeiro

Cuban sonero and composer Ignacio Piñeiro founded Sexteto Nacional in 1927, as Columbia Records’ answer to RCA Victor’s popular Sexteto Habanero. Both groups added the trumpet, and so defined the classic septet sound. Today, third-generation descendants of Septeto Nacional continue to define Cuba’s consummate son tradition. Augmenting the septet’s sound and embellishing its classic repertoire are vocalists Pío Leyva, Caridad Cuervo and Bertha Portuondo, congüero Tata Güines, pianist Guillermo González Camejo "Rubalcaba" and tres master Pancho Amat. Their close renditions of two well-known Piñeiro compositions (No Juegues Con Los Santos, featuring Cuervo, and Coco Mai Mai, featuring Portuondo) sustain an intuitive interplay between the band’s three singers, the musicians and their guest counterparts. Lead singer Eugenio Rodríguez "Raspa" can turn a song inside out (e.g., Llora Como Llore, Quimera, Tu Mi Afinidad), while Leyva’s wicked, raspy 82-year-old baritone (as heard on the recent Afro Cuban All Stars) intertwines with Rubalcaba’s stylish piano in a compelling fashion.


At the end of the 19th Century in the sugar cane and coffee plantations of the Cuban 'Oriente' region, two different music styles began to combine: the rhythms of Africa and the songs of Spanish heritage.

The result was a new music: the Son Oriental whose popularity, in the beginning, was limited to the rural areas of its origin. Officially it was classified as frivolous and indecent. However, its fame spread quickly to the urban neighbourhoods of the main cities in the region.

At that time Son was played by small combos composed of three to five musicians. Among the first groups to achieve fame were the Cuarteto Oriental and some years later the famous Trio Matamoros.

At the beginning of the twenties Havana experienced a major influx of orientales (people from 'Oriente') and due to their cultural influence Son became more and more accepted in the Capital. The 'Habaneros' (people from Havana) fell in love with the new rhythm and immediately put their peculiar stamp on it, speeding up the tempo, and playing it with six musicians.

During that period new groups such as the Sexteto Bolona and the Sexteto Occidental were formed and others, like the Cuarteto Orientall becomeing the Sexteto Habanero, adapted to the new conditions.

A young musician named Ignacio Piñeiro still was not satisfied by the existing sound of the Son groups. This sound was mainly based on vocals percussion and strings. Thus in 1927 he created his own group: the 'Septeto Nacional' adding, for the first time in the history of Son, a trumpet as lead instrument.

This completely changed the sound and Son quickly became the most celebrated music in Cuba. Not long after, it also became well known outside the country. When in 1928 Son and Septeto Nacional were the sensation of the World Exposition in Sevilla. Son was here to stay and became the basis for many other music styles. like Mambo and Salsa. Today, after more than seventy years of success, the "Septeto Nacional" is still alive and kicking.

Young gifted talents continue the tradition founded by Ignacio Piñeiro


Septeto Nacional Ignacio Piñeiro, en los Grammy Latinos 2013.

Septeto Nacional - Bis Music

En su 85. Aniversario nuevamente nominado el Septeto Nacional junto a la multipremiada Casa Discográfica Cubana Bis Music.

La Habana tiene Son, álbum doble CD-DVD es la más reciente producción discográfica en su 85 aniversario de la fundación del Septeto Nacional del insigne maestro Ignacio Piñeiro y la celebración del 20 cumpleaños de Bis Music. La Producción general de Francisco “El Matador” Oropesa y Eugenio Rodriguez, director Musical, bajo el ojo visor de Jose Manuel Garcia y Ela Ramos, este producto se clasifica entre los mejores del mundo al ser nominado al premio Grammy Latino 2013, prestigio bien ganado por la actual generación de la agrupación sonera, que sin grandes recursos, más que su talento, son capaces de entregarnos según José Reyes Fortún : Como una pequeña joya artística de la música popular bailable de todos los tiempos, puede ser considerado este disco por los amantes del arte musical cubano. Con una ligera mirada desde la musicología, La Habana tiene su Son, disco que hoy nos convoca, preserva la sonoridad y tímbrica histórica del Septeto Nacional Ignacio Piñeiro, para revelar una singularidad rítmico-melódica de alto vuelo conceptual, excelente arsenal polirritmico y politimbrico y una especial interpretación de un conjunto de músicas envueltas en un amplio y admirable empaque estético.

La 14. Entrega Anual del Grammy Latino a celebrarse el 21 y 22 de noviembre coincide con la presencia, por 5. ocasión, en los Estados Unidos, de nuestro más universal de los Septetos de Sones, El Septeto Nacional Ignacio Piñeiro.

Reporto: Ricardo R. Oropesa






News of the 2009 US Tour/Reviewstop

Legendary Cuban Group Plays SF  11/23/2009 KTVU: "Founded by Pineiro in 1927, Septeto Nacional would become the standard bearer for son as the prolific songwriter penned numerous hits for the group, drawing invitations to play internationally including the Ibero American Fair in Seville, Spain, and the 1933 World Exposition in Chicago. By then, Septeto Nacional had earned such fans as composer George Gershwin who became friends with Pineiro during a visit to Cuba and even quoted one of the bandleader’s songs in his “Cuban Overture.” The Septeto Nacional`s turn-over in musicians was so fast that one scarcely knew who to expect on stage when the group performed live. Pineiro actually left his own septet for financial reasons with Lazaro Herrera taking his place. Septeto Nacional only managed to stay afloat for another two years, finally disbanding in 1937. However, the popularity of the band would lead to future reformations that by the late 1950s would become permanent."

Cuban Musical Pioneers Celebrate an Island’s Soul  11/23/2009 NYT: "There’s no antiquarian dust on Septeto Nacional Ignacio Piñeiro, the Cuban band that got started in 1927 and performed on Thursday night at S.O.B.’s on its first American tour in 76 years. The septet was a pioneer of the Cuban son (a dance style; son means sound), which is a foundation of modern salsa in this hemisphere and of Congolese soukous in Africa. The Septeto, which has replaced all its musicians through the years — Piñeiro died in 1969 — still plays the Piñeiro repertory. Its Cuban son, and its rumbas and boleros, are music of transparency, tensile strength and phantom drive. Piñeiro’s innovation was to add trumpet to the guitars, percussion and voices of previous son groups, bringing songs an ever-changing countermelody and prefiguring salsa’s horn sections. Piñeiro may well have named salsa music with his 1928 song “Échale Salsita” (meaning “Throw a little sauce on it”), which started the septet’s first set at S.O.B.’s."

Septeto Nacional de Ignacio Piñeiro at Yoshi's  11/22/2009 SF Chronicle: ""What Piñeiro did was introduce the elements of rumba into the popular dance music of Cuba," says Francisco Oropesa-Fernandez, who is Ricardo's brother and plays bongos with the current Septeto Nacional. "He created a genre called rumba son that added the clave (a two-bar rhythmic pattern that anchors Afro-Cuban rhythm) to the son. In doing that, he brought in the elements of Africa that drew from his own roots in the Santeria Abakua religion."

Septeto Nacional de Ignacio Piñeiro: "The Inventors of Salsa"  11/20/2009 AfroFunk 

Opening Arms and Ears to Cuban Music  11/18/2009 NYT: "The Cuban band Septeto Nacional de Ignacio Piñeiro can legitimately claim to be inventors of salsa. But it last played in the United States when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president, and there was no telling when it might be able to return — until the very slightest hint of a thaw in cultural relations between the United States and Cuba quietly brought the band to New York early this month."

After 76 years, a return engagement for Cuba's Septeto Nacional  11/4/2009 NY Daily News: "Cuba’s Septeto Nacional Ignacio Piñeiro, a revered 83-year-old son ensemble that last played in the U.S. at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933, is making a grand return to the Bronx on Saturday. “It means a lot to go to the U.S. to make our contribution to Cuba’s traditional music,” bongo player and producer Frank (El Matador) Oropesa, who joined the Septeto 15 years ago, said from ­Havana last week. Oropesa, 49, is part of the fourth generation of musicians who have kept the Septeto going for more than 80 years, drawing on the repertoire of more than 600 themes from their founder, Cuban son master Ignacio Piñeiro, who died in 1968. “We retain the same anthological songs that became a symbol of those times, like ‘Échale Salsita,’ ‘Bardo,’ ‘Esas No Son Cubanas’ ... and we are going there to surrender all our energy for Cuban music,” Oropesa added. After Saturday’s concert at Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture, the seven musicians, a dancer and a sound technician will travel to San Juan, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Diego."

El Septeto Nacional recibe visado de Washington para actuar en Nueva York  10/22/2009 Cuba Encuentro: "El Septeto Nacional, uno de los más importantes representantes de música tradicional cubana, recibió visado de Washington para actuar en Nueva York, informó la AP. "El legendario y clásico Septeto Nacional Ignacio Piñeiro presentará un concierto exclusivo en la ciudad de Nueva York", anunció en un comunicado de prensa Wally Egecombe, director del Centro de Arte y Cultura Hostos de esa ciudad estadounidense. El espectáculo se realizará el 7 de noviembre en el anfiteatro de la institución con sede en el condado del Bronx, y será el primero de músicos cubanos desde 2003, cuando Washington comenzó a negar las visas a artistas de la Isla, en el marco de una política de endurecimiento de las sanciones a Cuba."

Pertenece al Congo el secreto de las butifarras

Texto y foto Idelenia Hernández, Radio Cadena Habana

Data de la década de los años treinta del pasado siglo veinte el pregón de un negro congo que por las calles de un poblado habanero repetía a cualquier hora del día o la noche: Salsa, salsita, para invitar a moradores y transeúntes a comprar las butifarras que tártara en mano, el pregonero vendía.

Años después, el Septeto Nacional de Ignacio Piñeiro, durante una actuación a la salida de ese poblado rural, fue convocado a probarlas, y sus músicos, hechizados por el sabor, se inspiraron llevando al pentagrama el tradicional suceso, promocionando así en toda Cuba y en el extranjero las butifarras, cuya salsa nadie podía igualar.

Mezcladas las carnes de res y de cerdo, sólo ese personaje, llamado el Congo, dominaba la receta del sazón exacto que daba a la butifarra de Catalina de Güines la verdadera autenticidad. Cuentan entonces pobladores de esa localidad que, al morir el creador, sólo una de sus hijas -la Negra Colasa- fue capaz de prepararlas, mientras el resto de la familia construyó, entonces, un restaurante.

En la actualidad, los habaneros elaboran el embutido, en el poblado güinero, con un sazón auténtico y una salsa que satisface el gusto de coterráneos y visitantes, manteniendo vivo aquello de que el secreto de las butifarras pertenece al Congo.


Homenaje for Ignacio Piñeiro in Jesus Maria, an abakwa barrio in Havanatop

This was filmed in a documentary by an Italian company, due out in June 2009

Left to right: El Goyo Hernandez,  Pedrito El Yuma, Frank Oropesa, bongocero for el Septeto Nacional de Ignacio Pineiro, El Negro Bonko de Ibonda, Palillo Bonko de Mutanga, Ismael Bonko de Ikanfioro. All are abakwa musicians.



En Moscu, USSR

Frank Oropesa y Ray Baretto
Festival Toros y salsa en Dax- Francia

Frank Oropesa y Tata Guines


2011 Tour

3/31/2011 Piper Repertory Theater at Mesa Arts Center
Phoenix, AZ, US

2010 Tours

Fri, Sep 3 San Diego, CA Anthology
Sat, Sep 4 San Diego, CA Anthology
Tue, Sep 7 Los Angeles, CA Catalina Bar & Grill / Jazz Club
Wed, Sep 8 Los Angeles, CA Catalina Bar & Grill / Jazz Club
Thu, Sep 9 Los Angeles, CA Catalina Bar & Grill / Jazz Club
Mon, Sep 13 San Francisco, CA Yoshi's Jazz Club--San Francisco
Tue, Sep 14 San Francisco, CA Yoshi's Jazz Club--San Francisco
Wed, Sep 15 San Francisco, CA Yoshi's Jazz Club--San Francisco
Thur, Sep 16 San Francisco, CA Yoshi's Jazz Club--San Franicsco
Fri, Sep 17 Monterey, CA Monterey Jazz Festival
Sat, Sep 18 Monterey, CA Monterey Jazz Festival

2009 Tours

AfroCubaWeb has just learned (9/23/09) that Septeto Nacional has received their US visas for this tour.

Direct from Cuba
TOUR 2009

The legendary Cuban son group, Septeto Nacional, founded by music pioneer Ignacio Piñeiro, will tour the U.S. and Caribbean from October 27 - December 1st, 2009.
Tour dates can be found on Facebook.  Please join the SEPTETO NACIONAL group page to receive updates on performances scheduled for your city.  You'll find a history of the group along with current photos and concert videos.  Join us today!
Presenters and promoters; there are a few remaining tour dates!  Contact us today for details and availability.  This is a unique opportunity to present one of the world's most vibrant musical treasures.
Leo Tizol
Tour Director / Artist Manager
Leo Tizol Presents
phone:  917-687-2486 [replace _AT_ with @]
Daria Sanchez
Tour Coordinator / Assistant Artist Manager
DLS Arts Management
phone:  917-771-1203  [replace _AT_ with @]

2006 Tours

The Grammy nominated SEPTETO NACIONAL Ignacio Pineiro
is available for concerts, festivals and special events in 2006
we are planning two European tours in 2006:

2006 Spring tour - between April 06 and May 13 

2006 Summer tour - between June 18 and August 8

promo materials and music on request

visit Septeto Nacional website -


Beata Beben and Dariusz Startek
Septeto Nacional Management and
ul. Tytusa 14 A / 1
72-006 Szczecin - Mierzyn
ph./fax: +48.91.4810169
mobile: +48.503.173959 (Beata)

mobile: +48.601.881125 (Dariusz)


El Son De Altura
International Music
Click here to listen to sample tracks and to buy  ==>
Son Le La Loma 
Original Release Date: 1999
International Music
Click here to buy  ==>
Mas Cuba Libres 
Original Release Date: 1999
Click here to buy  ==>

Excellent Performances of Cuban Traditional Groups in European Festivals, 9/06

Granma, as translated for Boletin Cubarte

French Journal Le Progress described the performances of the Cuban National Septet and the Afro Cuban All Stars as "a Cuban success", during the 26th Edition of the Vienne Jazz Festival, held in France. This cultural event counted with the participation of notorious cultural personalities such as George Benson, Gilberto Gil and the Lincoln Center´s Orchestra, directed by Wynton Marsalis.

Juan de Marcos, author of the successful project Buenavista Social Club and director of the Afro Cuban, offered to and audience of more than 8 000 what he named " the flavor of the tradition ", an outstanding musical group similar to the Cuban National Septet. The latter took the opportunity to present its last CD entitled A Conga Evening, produced by EGREM -the Cuban Recording Company- on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the group that will take place next year.

The Cuban Septet also performed at the International Festival of Sardinia, in Calagonne, together with Chucho Valdés and his quartet; and at the 7th Cuban Festival Seyne-Sur Mer, in Toulon, with NG the Band, Isaac Delgado and Manolito Simonet y su Trabuco.

In addition, they played during the Geneva´s Holidays, together with Cesaria Évora, from Cape Verde at Mataros´ Festival, in Catalonia, with X Alfonso, Jose Mercé, and the Algerian Khaled -popular known as the king of the raí-; at the Jazz Parade La Liberte, in Friburgo, Switzerland; at the International Festival of Ethnic Music, in Naples, Italy; and finally, at the South Festival of Latin-American Culture, in Reutlingen, Germany.

For Eugenio Rodríguez -alias El Raspa, director and vocalist of the group, and Frank Oropesa -alias El Matador, the Septet´s percussionist, the most exciting thing was the presentation made by tres-guitar Juan de Marcos. Juan told the audience how he learnt the secrets of Cuban music with this group, thanks to the generosity of Lázaro Herrera and Rafael Ortiz, main consultants of the Sierra Maestra musical group, that he directed.


Ignacio Piñeiro, hasta los ángeles bailan tu son  3/12/2014 Cubarte: por Ricardo Roberto Oropesa Fernández - "Y precisamente eso es lo que le debe la música cubana a Ignacio Piñeiro, fue él, le tocó hacer eso, tuvo la sensibilidad, la formación, él transitó por la escuela primaria que fueron los coros de clave, la secundaria que fueron los coros de guaguancó, y de pronto llegó al preuniversitario que fueron los septetos y de ahí llegó a la universidad donde fue el profesor egregio de la Universidad de la Música Cubana, y su talento le dio no solo para estructurar el son, que con Piñeiro no es un estribillo, no es un montuno, con Piñeiro es todo un cuerpo, tiene una narrativa, una dramaturgia, tiene una estructura que sale de los cantos de los coros de clave, de guaguancó, precisamente por eso tiene un texto largo, que narra historias, porque Piñeiro era rumbero y era sonero."


Review of Mas Cuba

FESTIVAL: In Havana, Contradiction Reigns  12/20/2002 Indiewire: "The one-hour "Nosotros, la Musica" (We Are the Music) is a 38-year-old, black-and-white freeform musical variety show peppered with infusions of French New Wave form, cinema verite, and seminal Cuban documentarian Santiago Alvarez, and a soupcon of revolutionary fervor. First-time filmmaker Rogelio Paris, now 66, honors anonymous singers and dancers on the streets of poor barrios with the same gusto he bestows upon such well-known musicians as songwriter/pianist Benny More and chanteuse Elena Burke, established nightclub acts of costumed dancers doing the rhumba, and groups such as el Septeto de Ignacio Pineiro."

Dr.C. Ricardo Roberto Oropesa Fernández


Sexteto Habanero Tribilin Cantore 1925 Foto - beautiful, classic african cuban

Sexteto Habanero Tres Lindas Cubanas 1928 - que lindo, muy africano

El Septeto Nacional de Ignacio Pineiro - Echale salsita  8/31/2009 recent video

El Septeto Nacional de Ignacio Pineiro - El guanajo relleno  8/19/2009  an old video, classic.

SEPTETO NACIONAL (Cuba 1920-....) SongoroCosongo  6/14/2008 classic

Septeto Nacional - Suavecito an old video, classic.

Ignacio Pineiro, Donde estabas anoche (Tito Rodriguez).  Avisale a mi contrario. SongoCorosongo  (Hector Lavoe).



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