Remembering Arsenio Rodríguez – Maestro de maestros

Rene Lopez pays tribute to Arsenio Rodríguez (Ignacio de Loyola Rodríguez Scull) born Güira de Macurijes, Matanzas, Cuba, August 30, 1911.

The Arsenio piece that Lopez refers to in his talk: “Yo Nací en África” (“I Was Born in Africa”)

A tasty instrumental version of “Bruca Manigua” recorded in 1963. Ffrom the album “La Magia de Rodríguez”

And while we’re … Read more

The cats in Havana – 1977

The year: 1977.

The place: La Habana, Cuba.

President Jimmy Carter thawed the freeze between the United States and Cuba a bit by allowing a boatload of American musicians to travel to Havana to perform with Cuban musicians, the first such officially sanctioned visit since 1961.

Check out the young, very serious and (very thin) Arturo Sandoval and Paquito D’Rivera.… Read more

Documentary – “Mr. Bongo: I’m going to live until I die”

Jack Costanzo (1919-2018)

Jack Costanzo started out as a dancer but self-education which included three trips to Havana in the 1940s made him a bongero (bongo master) and he was in instant demand both with jazz and Latin orchestras.

His first exposure to the instrument came when he was 14 years old at a ballroom dance concert in his home … Read more

Harvard in Cuba

You’ve got to hand it to Harvard. They’ve got money and in this case they knew how to spend it.

This short video is an excellent musical and visual survey of some of the best that the western part of Cuba has to offer music lovers.

Cuban saxophonist, percussionist and composer Yosvany Terry directs the jazz bands at Harvard where … Read more

A Night in Havana Dizzy Gillespie in Cuba

In 1985, on his second trip to Havana, Dizzy Gillespie was accompanied by a documentary film crew.

The resulting film “A Night in Havana: Dizzy Gillespie in Cuba” captures Dizzy’s spirit like few other films.

The film includes beautifully shot concert footage of his performance at Havana’s Fifth International Jazz Festival, his adventures touring Havana and his reflections on Afro-Cuban … Read more