Sierra MaestraThe group Sierra Maestra, headed up by Juan d'Marcos Gonzales, is an outstanding nine-piece son band from Havana. They are one of the finest and most popular musical ensembles performing in the Spanish Caribbean today. They were the first group, and remain the best, to play in the old-style son line-up: tres, guitar, trumpet, bongo, güiro and vocals--as during the great days of the 1920s and '30s. They have been the pioneers in reviving this style for new generations and re-introducing it into the Cuban mainstream. They named themselves after the mountain range in the eastern part of Cuba as a tribute to the birthplace of son.
Sierra Maestra first performed in 1976 at the University of Havana where the group members all studied. Their aim, then as now, was to revive and re-explore this popular Cuban music style of the 1920s which had become forgotten. The original line-up mentioned above was slightly augmented with extra percussion (congas and maracas) and the replacement of the old marimbula with electric bass. Some of the guaracha rhythms were speeded up to allow for the move away from the slow close pair dancing of the '20s. This revival of son with a modern stamp was a sensation for the new generation of Cubans, and Sierra Maestra quickly became popular through playing the annual festivals at the universities around the island of Cuba. They won the first prize in each of their first 3 years - '76, '77 and '78. They were also appearing regularly on national TV.
In 1978, they were asked to represent Cuba at the "Festival Mundial de la Juventud y los Estudiantes" in Havana. In 1979, they took 4th place at the televised "Carifesta" Caribbean competition, also in Havana. In 1981 their first record, "Sierra Maestra llegó con el guanajo relleno", received a silver disc, a composite award for high sales, general popularity and critical reception. They also won individual prizes for the best recording, most popular song and the highest record sales. 1981 was also the year of their first foreign tour -- to Nicaragua.
They recorded their second LP, "Y Son Asi", in 1982 and won the Girasol prize for being the most popular group of the year. They toured Angola and Nicaragua that year. In 1983 they won the "Benny More" dance music prize at the festival of the same name and took part in the IV Song Festival held in Helsinki. They then travelled to Sweden and France and to the International Film Festival in Spain (where they have often played over the years). Also in 1983, they recorded the soundtrack to the Cuban TV series "Las Impuras"; (more recently their song "A Los Rumberos de Belen" was used by Robert Redford for his film "The Milagro Beanfield War"). Since then Sierra Maestra have maintained a full international touring and recording career, around Europe, Africa and Asia.
In 1994 during their European tour, they recorded "Dundunbanza" for World Circuit Records in London, an extremely stylish cocktail of Arsenio Rodriguez tunes and other favourites. Sierra Maestra now have worldwide distribution for their music. One of Cuba's great musical secrets is now out!
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FBI Fails to Process Background Check for Legendary Cuban Son Ensemble
July 9, 2003, Kentfield, CA
Sasa Music and Ritmo Artists announced today that the planned US performance
dates for the traditional Cuban music group Sierra Maestra in June and July
of 2003 have been cancelled.
"We are saddened to lose this tour and the wonderful opportunity to hear
these great soneros" said David Flower of Sasa Music, the group's UK-based
management agency. "The musicians had their Immigration and Naturalization
Service interviews months ago, all the paperwork was filed and in order and
the INS was prepared to approve visas for the group. The only item pending
was the required Federal Bureau of Investigation background check. For
reasons we're still trying to identify, the background check was not
completed by the FBI in a timely manner so that the INS could process the
visas required for the tour."
David Gaar of Ritmo Artists, the booking agency responsible for putting
together the tour, added: "The group's I-129 petition was approved by INS on
April 9th yet, as of today, there has been no reply back from the FBI on the
background checks that are now required due to post 9-11 security
regulations. We had enlisted the help of multiple State Representatives who
implored that the group's file be expedited immediately. Those pleas,
unfortunately, seem to have fallen upon deaf ears and have been met with no
official reply from the FBI."
However, representatives from Sasa and UK record label World Music Network
confirmed that the group will proceed with their three Canadian dates: two
performances at Canada Festival D'Ete International in Quebec City on July 8
and 9 and one at Canada Nuits D'Afrique in Montreal on July 10.
"In the post 9/11 climate, many other international artists have been forced
to cancel US tours due to visa-related problems," said Phil Stanton of the
UK's World Music Network. "Yet despite the inconvenience to the group, its
many US fans and all those who laboured to bring Sierra Maestra to the US,
we are encouraged by the fact that there was no conditional refusal by the
INS for the US dates. We hope that Sierra Maestra will be able to complete
the FBI background check and that a new round of dates in the US can be set
for later this year or next."
The tour would have been Sierra Maestra's first in four years and their most
extensive US run to date.
# # #
About Sierra Maestra:
Sierra Maestra is one of Cuba's finest son bands. Formed in 1976 at the
University of Havana, Sierra Maestra rekindled the old style son line-up:
tres, guitar, trumpet, bongo, güiro and vocals, as during the great days of
the 1920's and 30's. The nine piece group set themselves apart from other
Cuban bands by pioneering the revival of the son style for new generations
and its re-introduction into the Cuban mainstream. Naming themselves after
the mountain range in the eastern part of Cuba where the Cuban revolution
was born, Sierra Maestra have recorded 14 albums and over 10 singles, appear
on at least 40 compilations and have performed in over 30 countries.
Global Music Promotion
PO Box 897
Kentfield, CA 94914-0897
|"They have a French feature film called "SALSA!" out in February in France and other countries of Europe in March onwards. It's a big feature film - released by Universal as is the soundtrack - in which they star and play. Written by Jean-Claude Carrière and directed by Joyce Buñuel. Promotional dates for the film in France in January-February 2000, then normal tour in mid May-mid June 2000, then late August-September 2000." -- SASA Music|
Thu 8 Mar Band on the Wall Manchester, UK
Tue 13 Mar New Morning Paris, France
Fri 16 Mar Zuiderpershuis Antwerp, Belgium
Sat 17 Mar Rasa Utrecht, Netherlands
Thu 29 Mar Loeb Playhouse West Lafayette, IN, US
|Wed||08/08/07||Budapest, HUN||Sziget Fest|
Tolbooth, Stirling – UK
|19 June||Town Hall, Denbigh – UK, North Wales|
|21 June||Kongresowa, Warsaw - Poland|
|22 June||Concert Hall, Vilnius - Lithuania|
|1 July||Masala Festival, Hanover – Germany|
|2 July||Hechelei, Bielefield – Germany|
|3 July||Brunnenhof, Munich – Germany|
|5 July||A Muggiano, Florence - Italy|
|7 July||New Morning, Paris - France|
|8 July||Giardino Botanico, Merano - Italy|
|10 July||Festival Lent, Maribor - Slovenia|
|12 July||The Spitz,
London - UK
Tickets: 020 7392 9032
|13 July||Bush Hall,
London - UK
Tickets: 020 8222 6955 or
Brighton - UK
Tickets: 01273 647100
|16 July||St. Georges,
Exeter - UK
Tickets: 01392 665866
|19 July||St. David's
Hall, Cardiff - UK
Tickets: 029 2087 8444
For updates and more details see http://www.sierra-maestra.net/tour.html
Ritmo Artists is preparing US tours for 2004 and 2005, politics willing.
"NOTE: We are currently setting North American tour dates for the 2004/2005 season. Please check back here often for updates on when and where the group will be playing in your area. Booking inquiries for this artist should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org"
23rd - Conference and Concert in Puerto Rico - Conservatorio de Musica
24th - Conference and Concert in NY - Hostos Center for the Arts andCulture
25th - Open
26th - Private Event - NY
27th - Private Event- NY
28th - Talento Total Event - Chicago, IL
1st - En Route - Los Angeles
2nd - Hollywood Park - In association with Albert Torres Productions
3rd - La Pena Cultural Center - Berkeley, California
MARCH 4-15: These dates are presently open
14th: Johnny D's, Somerville, MA
For bookings, contact: Leo Tizol
|Eddie Ortiz and Assoc.
The Cuban musical group "Sierra Maestra" will be in a US Tour in April of 2001. If any individual or organization is interested in concert dates, please contact us at 312-512-3863.
|05/30/00||London, UK||Jazz Cafe|
|06/03/00||Ebensee, Austria||Kino Ebensee|
|06/08/00||Winterthur, Switzerland||Afro Pfingsten|
|06/09/00||St. Gallen, Switzerland||Domino|
|06/10/00||Russelheim, Germany||Theatre Russelheim|
|06/11/00||Heidelberg, Germany||Alte Feuerwache|
|06/13/00||Paris, France||New Morning|
|06/16/00||Bern, Switzerland||Muhle Hunzigen|
|06/21/00||Turin, Italy||Festival Tropical Latino|
|06/30/00||Toronto, Ontario||Convocation Hall|
|Feb 5||London, Ontario|
|Feb 6-7||San Francisco, CA||LaPeña, Latino Entertainment Partners|
|Feb 9-10||Santa Barbara, CA||UCSB|
|Feb 13-17||LA, CA||unconfirmed|
|Feb 19||Ottowa, Ontario|
|Feb 20||Toronto, CA||Mathews Hall|
|Feb 21-24||US||Chicago, Madison, Bloomington|
|Feb 28||Boston, MA||Roxy, World Music, Inc.|
La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, Ca. 94705.
Direct from Cuba! LaPeña Cultural Center presents
Cuba's most popular group of soneros. Two exclusive shows for the Bay Area. Saturday, March 3, 2001. 8 &10pm $20 adv, $22 door. At La Peña; 3105 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley. Tickets available at www.lapena.org
SIERRA MAESTRA, the outstanding nine-piece son band from Havana, is one of the finest and most popular musical ensembles performing in the Spanish Caribbean today. They were the first group, and remain the best in Havana, to play in the old style son line-up: tres (the Cuban lead guitar), guitar, trumpet, bongo, guiro and vocals - as during the 1920's and 30's. They have been pioneers in reviving this style for new generations and re-introducing it into the Cuban mainstream. They named themselves after the mountain range in the eastern part of Cuba as a tribute to the birthplace of son. The popularity of son exploded in the United States with the release and tours of the Buena Vista Social Club. Sierra Maestra keeps this tradition of son alive. A dance floor will be open. DJ Jose Ruiz will play cds in La Peña's Cafe between shows.
SIERRA MAESTRA first performed in 1976 at the University of Havana where the group members all studied. Their aim, than as now, was to revive and reexplore this popular Cuban music style of the 1920s which had become forgotten. The original line-up mentioned above was slightly augmented with extra percussion (congas and maracas) and the replacement of the old marimbula with electric bass. Some of the guaracha rhythms were speeded up to allow for the move away from the slow close couple dancing of the 1920s. This revival of son with a modern stamp was a sensation for the new generation of Cubans, and SIERRA MAESTRA quickly became popular through playing the annual festivals at the universities around the island of Cuba.
In 1978, they were asked to represent Cuba at the "Festival Mundial de la Juventud y los Estudiantes" in Havana. In 1981 their first record, "Sierra Maestra llegó con el guanajo relleno", received a silver disc, a composite award for high sales, general popularity and critical reception. They also won individual prizes for the best recording, most popular song, and the highest record sales. 1981 was also the year of their first foreign tour - to Nicaragua. In 1982, Sierra Maestra recorded their second LP, "Y Son Asi", and won the Girasol prize for being the most popular group of the year. They toured Angola and Nicaragua that year. In 1983 they won the "Benny More" dance music prize at the festival of the same name and took part in the IV Song Festival held in Helsinki. They then traveled to Sweden and France and to the International Film Festival in Spain. SIERRA MAESTRA's song,"A Los Rumberos de Belén" was used by Robert Redford for his film "Havana". In 1994 SIERRA MAESTRA recorded "Dundunbanza" on World Circuit Records label out of London. Since then they have released two other recordings, "Rumberos de la Habana" and "Tibiri Tabara". In the year 2000, SIERRA MAESTRA recorded the soundtrack and was featured in a French feature film called "Salsa", released by Universal.
Over the past 15 years SIERRA MAESTRA has maintained a full international touring and recording career, throughout Europe, Africa ,Asia, Canada and the United States. La Peña presented SIERRA MAESTRA to sold out audiences in 1997.
|Rumberos De La Havana
|Son Highlights from Cuba
|Available Jan '99|
|SIERRA MAESTRA INTERNATIONAL TOURS:
1981 - NICARAGUA
1982 - NICARAGUA
1983 - FINLAND, SPAIN, SWEDEN, ANGOLA, FRANCE
1984 - SWEDEN, FINLAND, NORWAY
1985 - ANGOLA, NICARAGUA
1986 - WEST GERMANY, BULGARIAN, SPAIN, SWITZERLAND,
ITALY, HOLLAND, DENMARK, NORWAY, SWEDEN, FINLAND,
ICELAND, BELGIUM, AUSTRIA
1987 - ZAMBIA, ZAIRE, CONGO, BURUNDI, SEYCHELLES,
MADAGASCAR, KENYA, TANZANIA, ANGOLA
(they recorded a record in Congo called "Congo Carabali")
1988 - JAPAN ( 2 months, 30 cities)
1989 - FRANCE
notably the Cuban Festival in Bobigny called "Havana à Paris". Sierra
Maestra was the only son band invited.
1990 - CURAÇAO
1991 - MEXICO
(the Cancùn Festival of Caribbean Salsa), NICARAGUA
1992 - UK, GERMANY, ITALY, SPAIN, ICELAND
1993 - UK, HOLLAND, GERMANY, SPAIN, NORWAY, SWEDEN,
1994 - UK, FRANCE, PORTUGAL, HOLLAND, BELGIUM,
GERMANY, DENMARK, SWEDEN
They have recorded 8 LPs and over 10 singles and appear on over 7
Son has become during the 20th century the most important genre of Cuban
music. Son is the basic structure of salsa , with its 3/2 clave beat dating from the
original trio of clave, bongo and tres from the mountains of Eastern Cuba. (The
trumpet and bass, as played by the marimbula, was added when son arrived in
Havana in the 1920's to first become so popular). Sierra Maestra's arrangements
generally use the classic formula: introduction of trumpet phrases over the basic
melody of the song (this usually following an A -B or A -B - C - A scheme) and
then the montuno, based on vocal or trumpet solo improvisations with chorus
work. Sierra Maestra also play Cuban rumba, a different clave - 2/3 - which
accompanies a totally different dance to that of son.
SIERRA MAESTRA - BAND MEMBERS:
Juan de Marcos González Cárdenas - Tres, vocal and leader
Daniel Ramos Alayo -Trumpet
Carlos González - Bongos
Carlos Pisseaux - Güiro
Alberto Valdés - Maracas and Vocal
Luis Bárgaza - Vocals
José Antonio Rodríguez - Guitar and Vocals
Eduardo Himely - Bass and Tumbadora
Alejandro Suárez - Clave and Vocal
SOME INTERNATIONAL COMMENT:
"...rarely have the respectable locals of Saukakaasi thrown themselves into such a
festive mood...the old dance floor, more used to gentle melodies, groaned under
the weight of the dancers who, filling the hall, found themselves inspired by the
cuban son ... the traditional instruments, all acoustic and perfectly in tune with
Sierra Maestra's arrangements, provoked an unstoppable shaking of hips...Cuban
music is a really exceptional phenomenon, its rhythm seeming to have a unique
attraction, regardless of time or place...Sierra Maestra's performance is
astonishing, with the instruments, like toys in their hands, creating a fantastic
balance of harmony, sound and rhythm...The group "Sierra Maestra" conquered
the audience with, apart from their musical expertise, their authenticity and sincerity
and with the sheer exuberance of their performance..."
Finland, Helsingin Sanomat 1984(Valkeakoski Festival)
"...In contrast to the explosive and half electric fusion music of Irakere, sierra
Maestra take as their starting point traditional Cuban son ... they have revitalised
the son in an honourable way and managed to turn an old original style into a
dynamic and modern dance style with its acoustic base intact..."
Denmark, Land and Folk, 1986
"...It was a great shame not to have a dance floor in the "Karl Marx" theatre,
although the movements of the people in their seats, now to the left, now to the
right during Sierra Maestra's concert, would lead one to suppose that even if there
had been one, there would not have been room for so many pairs of whirling
Angola, Journal de Angola, 1985
"...the group Sierra Maestra established themselves as the revelation of the year on
lifting more than one prize at the EGREM award ceremony in the Cabaret
Tropicana. The boys of Marianao were awarded the prize for most popular
LP...as well as being awarded, by the Caribe group on behalf of the Cuban
Association of Artesanos, the distinction of having made the greatest contribution
to the development and conservation of Cuban music..."
Cuba, Tribuna de La Habana, 1982 "...Maestra were spectacular -
stratospheric trumpet improvisations, intricate tres patterns over minimal
percussion, and the call-and-response close harmonies were almost as immaculate
as their cream linen suits..."
London, The Wire 1993
"...subtle dynamics and shifts of gear, as well as the uncannily tight stops and
starts. The real thing."
London, Straight No Chaser, 1994
"...a vital, push-pull, metronomic beat is elevated to the realms of the exceptional
by the fleet tres, the lyrical trumpet...and the lead singing of the two soneros..."
London, MOJO, December 1994
NovaTer Artists has represented them in the past, see their page
on this site
See also SASA MUSIC which now has worldwide representation (12/99)
309, Aberdeen House
22-24 Highbury Grove
London N5 2EA
David Flower email@example.com
fax:(00-44)-0207 359 9233
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