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Friday, February 24, 2023

Musicians in New Orleans and Cuba discover their shared heritage and comparable sounds : NPR

Musicians in New Orleans and Cuba are exploring their shared heritage and comparable sounds. Highschool musicians from New Orleans are discovering frequent floor with college students at a Havana conservatory.


Musicians from New Orleans and Cuba are exploring new collaborations that spotlight comparable seems like this new music from the New Orleans funk band Galactic and Cuban singer Cimafunk.


CIMAFUNK: (Singing in non-English language).

KELLY: On a current cultural change to Havana, highschool musicians from each locations found frequent floor, and NPR’s Debbie Elliott adopted alongside.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, BYLINE: It is a bit chaotic within the band room of the Guillermo Tomas music faculty on the outskirts of Havana. Scores of younger gamers tune up their devices and prepare to study some new music.


ELLIOTT: Troy Andrews, aka Trombone Shorty, the New Orleans musician, sits on the entrance row to soak up the efficiency.

TROY ANDREWS: They are saying – do you communicate Spanish? I say, I’m from the Treme, so I communicate Tremish (ph).

ELLIOTT: Andrews, who grew up within the historic Treme neighborhood, is right here for a cultural change sponsored partly by his Trombone Shorty Basis, a program that nurtures budding, younger artists in his hometown. Eight of them are on this journey, and so they’re spending the day at this conservatory with Cuban college students who’ve ready a particular music.


ELLIOTT: Andrews is moved to listen to them play one thing that he is recorded – the well-known Louis Armstrong music, “St. James Infirmary.”


ELLIOTT: Troy Andrews first got here to Cuba as a younger teenager on an identical cultural change journey.

ANDREWS: I by no means forgot it, and that model of music has all the time stayed with me as a result of I really feel like New Orleans and Havana are like sisters and brothers, you realize? The soul, the resilience of the individuals right here is nearly equivalent to what we expertise in New Orleans. In order that’s why once I come right here, I do not really feel like I am in a international place.

ELLIOTT: He feels these connections within the meals, the structure and in the way in which you would possibly hear exuberant music taking part in within the streets. Now he needs these younger musicians to select up on that. They begin to in a free-for-all, binational jam session. What began as a New Orleans-style, brass band second-line music morphed into one thing with Latin aptitude.

ANDREWS: And so we acquired (vocalizing) ba bum, boo ba dun dun dun da duh (ph).

And that is New Orleans. And you then’ll go like (vocalizing) ba-nuh, ba-nuh, bump bump, ba-nuh ba-duh (ph).

So you bought the (vocalizing).

There was no phrases exchanged. It was all music, so there was only one word that made it really feel very completely different, very salsa-like as a substitute of second line. And now it’s going to be ingrained in our head that we’ll make a association based mostly off of the way in which they performed and convey it again to New Orleans, after which that may create a complete nother factor.


ELLIOTT: The scholars are into it, leaning in with their trumpets and clarinets, every displaying the opposite one thing new but acquainted.

YORDI SANTIAGO-CORTEZ: Simply sooner or later of me being right here – I’ve seen a lot that I’ve by no means heard.

ELLIOTT: Yordi Santiago-Cortez, a clarinet participant and highschool senior from Kenner, La., says he feels an emotional pull. So does John Rhodes, a 16-year-old drummer from New Orleans. He says their sounds actually meshed.

JOHN RHODES: The Latin groove and the massive 4 out of brass band second line – all of it coincides relating to us taking part in collectively – simply the music tradition, ‘trigger they, like – regardless of the place we come from, it doesn’t matter what language you communicate, it doesn’t matter what race, it like – music is only a common language.

ELLIOTT: These college students share greater than only a love for music, says Lilian Lombera Herrera, a cultural producer with Horns to Havana, one of many teams concerned on this cultural change. She’s Cuban however now lives in New Orleans.

LILIAN LOMBERA HERRERA: All of that’s a part of our identical ancestors.

ELLIOTT: Folks of West African descent introduced right here in the course of the Atlantic slave commerce.

LOMBERA HERRERA: A number of the Latin tinge that they stated concerning the taste of the second strains and of the music come from the Caribbean, and it is a proven fact that it was an enormous migration from Haiti that got here by Cuba and continued to New Orleans.

ELLIOTT: These Afro-Cuban roots are what Erik Alejandro Iglesias Rodriguez is all about.

CIMAFUNK: I am Cimafunk. I am a Cuban artist, and I make Afro-Cuban music.

ELLIOTT: The title Cimafunk is a nod to his heritage. Cimarrons had been African captives who escaped slavery. For a number of years, he is been spending time in New Orleans collaborating with artists there, together with Tank and the Bangas, the Soul Rebels, and now Trombone Shorty.

CIMAFUNK: You are feeling that sort of loopy vibe round, and it is the identical in New Orleans. On the identical time, all the issues and all of the conditions – the financial, social, every part – however you are feeling that the individuals hold the soul.

ELLIOTT: The financial state of affairs in Cuba is dire, with shortages of meals and gas and energy blackouts. Document numbers of migrants are fleeing the communist-controlled island. The disaster is a end result of a number of issues, together with the pandemic, U.S. sanctions and a decent grip on the economic system by the one-party authorities that hasn’t adopted by on promised financial reforms. Frustrations boiled up in avenue demonstrations final 12 months that had been met with a extreme authorities crackdown. New, harsher controls on freedom of expression had been put in place. Some artists had been jailed, and others had been compelled into exile. Cimafunk says the crackdown is incorrect, however he would not assume fleeing Cuba is the reply. He is hopeful exchanges like this one can open up risk.

CIMAFUNK: All of the political scenes and all of the governmental scenes – it is all the time onerous to speak about that with out damage or with out being in a single or different facet. This interchange – individuals arriving right here, taking part in for the individuals, collaborating with younger musicians, going to the college to see the youngsters – that is good.


ELLIOTT: Again at Guillermo Tomas faculty, the scholars are engaged on songs they may carry out collectively because the opening act for a Trombone Shorty live performance in Havana. Fourteen-year-old Juan Licor Doreste has a large grin as he weaves across the different musicians, snapping his fingers with the beat, a seeming bandleader within the making.

JUAN LICOR DORESTE: I play trumpet.


ELLIOTT: With the assistance of tour information Frank Gonzales, Juan describes this expertise.

LICOR DORESTE: (Via interpreter) Having the prospect of, you realize, exchanging with musicians from New Orleans…

FRANK GONZALES: He is a jazz lover, so think about.

LICOR DORESTE: (Via interpreter) …And having the ability to do that jam session with them has been wonderful.

ELLIOTT: Juan is certainly one of a number of Cuban college students to get new devices from this contingent from america, which included vacationers who paid to return see live shows placed on by each Cuban and New Orleans bands. Juan goals of sometime having his personal jazz band.

LICOR DORESTE: (Talking Spanish).

GONZALES: Oh, there you go. He want to be a future Wynton Marsalis.

ELLIOTT: And maybe sooner or later be a headliner in New Orleans.

Debbie Elliott, NPR Information, Havana.

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