The city of Matanzas has a population of about 140,000 people, about 7% of Havana.

It’s about an hour and a half east of Havana by car along a very well-maintained highway.

It’s one of the most important centers of Afro-Latin music and religion in the world, yet as the subtitle of Miguel Bretos’ excellent book on the city says, it’s “The Cuba Nobody Knows.”

More accurately, it’s the city casual tourists don’t know. Everyone who is knowledgeable about Afro-Cuban music and religion knows all about the city.

Jazz on the Tube took David Amram there (it was his first visit to Cuba outside of Havana) to visit Los Muñequitos de Matanzas.

David Amram jamming with Los Muñequitos de Matanzas in front of their headquarters.

A Los Muñequitos rumba to celebrate the birthday of the young daughter of one it its members.

There are three varieties of rumba: Yambú, Guaguancó and Columbia. You’re looking at Yambú.
Los Muñequitos de Matanzas in concert in Matanzas.

A friend makes us Frituras De Malanga

Alturas de Simpson. It’s a neighborhood in Matanzas, Simpson Heights, and also the title of an iconic danzón (1879) written by Miguel Faílde who was a pioneer of the genre.

This is the view from Ermita de Monserrate. On one side of
the ridge is the city and bay and on the other is this.

Everyday transportation in many parts of Cuba including Matanzas: Self-replicating; runs on locally produced, non-toxic fuel; produces organic fertilizer; and environmentally sound

I judge countries on how well they take care of their children.
In that category – and many others – Cuba is #1

Matanzas: Those who know, know. Those who don’t, don’t.

Great news!

You can now watch this video – and all Spanish-language videos – with English subtitles. It’s free!

Click here for instructions on how to turn on English subtitles.

– Ken McCarthy
Jazz on the Tube

Go to Cuba with Jazz on the Tube as your guide:
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A Night in Havana Dizzy Gillespie in Cuba
David and Gilberto in Havana