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Afrocubanismo ¡Afrocubanismo! presents a summit of master musicians, a gathering unlike any other in the world. The recording revolves around one group that is the musical center for six of the seven selections: Chucho Valdés and Irakere. "Irakere" means forest or woods. Two centuries ago, the greatest African percussionists lived in a region called Irakere. Their descendants brought this music to Cuba and it formed the rhythmic foundation for Cuban music.

The group Irakere was born twenty-five years ago as a means of self-expression for some extraordinary young musicians. By combining the power of the Cuban rhythms in their blood with the free-flowing expression of the American jazz they loved, they created a force that changed the course of Cuban popular music. This force continues to this day, alive and vibrant, still making musical waves throughout the world.

Many great musicians have been a part of Irakere's history, such as Paquito D'Rivera and Arturo Sandoval, both of whom have gone on to fame in the United States. Many are still in the band, such as the great bassist Carlos del Puerto or the master of the drum set, Enrique Plá. New musicians keep joining, witness to the phenomenal musical abilities of so many young Cubans. At the center of it all is El Maestro, Jesús "Chucho" Valdés, continuing to compose incomparable music and to lead an ensemble that is second to none.

From the Artistic of Afrocbanismo

These recordings form a piece of the history of Cuban music. They were all recorded during the first ¡Afrocubanismo! Festival at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Banff, Alberta from August 26 to September 4, 1994. All were recorded live in concert, with the exception of the Rumba Tonada, recorded in the studios of the Banff Centre during the festival.

The ¡Afrocubanismo! Festival was an artistic milestone, an unforgettable experience for those of us lucky enough to be there. Just before the festival started, knowing that something very special was about to happen, I arranged to make the highest-quality 24-track digital recordings of all the live concerts. I'm very glad we were able to do it. This CD is the result.

It is immensely satisfying to me now to see this music released, knowing that others can enjoy and glimpse the extraordinary talent and artistry of these Cuban musicians and the tremendous excitement of the festival. And perhaps you will join us for the next ¡Afrocubanismo! at Banff...

W. Andrew Schloss, Ph.D.
Artistic Director

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