"Day after day I see, hear and feel revitalized our Latin Jazz in all its infinite
of varied rhythms; 'Como Suena' is a fantastic production where Calixto
Oviedo, one of the best drummers and percussionists of the moment, with
its well qualified Cuban Jazz Train give valuable input" - Luis Raul Montell, Jazz Caribe
1.- A Mi Aire; 2.- Sincopatres; 3.- Como Suena; 4.- Manteca; 5.- Why an I Here?; 6.- School Memories;
7.- I'll Tell You; 8.- Blue South; 9.- Descarga; 10.- Danza Ñañiga
7.- I'll Tell You; 8.- Blue South; 9.- Descarga; 10.- Danza Ñañiga
According to Latin music expert Carlos Quintana, “the foundations of Latin Jazz were consolidated during the 1940s and 1950s and there is evidence about the inclusion of Afro-Cuban sounds into early Jazz. To this regard, Jazz pioneer “Jelly Roll Morton” used the term “Latin tinge” to make a reference to the rhythm that characterized some of the Jazz that was played in New Orleans at the beginning of the 20th century.
This Latin tinge was a direct reference to the influence that the Cuban Habanera, a genre that was popular in the dance halls of Cuba at the end of the 19th century, had in the making of some of the local Jazz expressions that were produced in New Orleans. Along those lines, the proximity between New Orleans and Havana also allowed Cuban musicians to borrow elements from the early American Jazz”.
Whereas Jazz in New Orleans arose from black blues and spiritual traditions, in Cuba their black musical traditions were preserved in a religion, Santeria.
Henceforward, the marriage of both styles became a call and response, improvisational approach where one musician offered a phrase and a second player answered it with a direct commentary or response to the offered phrase. Thus, the musicians build on each other’s offering and work together to move the song along and create a sound that’s inventive and collective. In Cuba, this improvisational approach was –and still is– known as “descarga”.
Based on that well-documented history, the Cuban Jazz Train, under the direction of Calixto Oviedo, was formed by a group of accomplished musicians whose main motivation was to revive those olden times improvising new melodies, harmonies, and danceable Cuban rhythms in order to generate their own new “tinge”.
For the last five decades, most Cd covers involving Cuban music have featured, guaguancó dancers, musical instruments (congas, maracas, etc.), tropical secenery (beaches, palm trees, etc.) and old vintage cars.
Since our tunes are a revival of that old historic mixture of Afro Cuban and the New Orleans original jazz sound, it made sense to name our ensemble the Cuban Jazz Train and display in our cover the most reliable form of transportation at the turn of the XX’s century, a locomotive.
Accordingly, we chose the first electric train to run in Cuba, built and run by the Hershey Chocolate Corporation of Pennsylvania, who in 1916 purchased large tracts of land to build a sugar mill 45 km east of Havana, about halfway between the capital and the Matanzas province.
That train was used to transport its produce to nearby ports as well as most of its workers to adjacent towns.In their heyday, Hershey built a network of 135 km of electric railways with electric passenger service between Matanzas and "Central Hershey" (the sugar mill). It began in January 1922 and was extended to Casablanca, across the bay from Havana, the following October. By 1924 Hershey Cuban had a fleet of 17 electric passenger cars and 7 electric locomotives.
Calixto Oviedo: Direction, Drums, Percussion (All tracks)
Yosmel Montejo, Bass (All tracks)
Joel Núñez, Tenor Sax, EWI (All tracks)
Christian Moraga, Congas (All tracks)
Nathanael Molina, Piano (Tracks 2,3,4,7,9,10)
Alex Rivas, Piano (Track1,5,6,8)
Lily Hernández, Vocals (Trac10)
Rachel López, Flute (Track 1)
Yosiel Pérez, Trumpet (Track 3)
Richard Velzen, Trombone (Track 8)
Musical Production: Calixto Oviedo & Yosmel Montejo
Recorded and Mixed at Maraca Tumba Studios
Engineered by Anthony Shogren
Art by Gitano Mio
Printing: Melcast Litho
Executive Producer: Manny S.Gonzalez
Management: CJT Music, Alhambra, California
Notes of Calixto Oviedo Mulens:
Calixto Oviedo was born on October 14, 1955 in the Havana barrio of La Vibora. His father ran the laundry of the Hotel Nacional, but his passion was playing the tres and improvising décimas. Calixto’s earliest musical memories were at the age of two or three, waiting in front of the television, toy violin in hand, to play along with performances of his favorite band, Orquesta Aragón. It was at the advanced age of four, however, that it became clear to the young prodigy that his true calling was to play the drums. The toy violin was discarded in favor of a plastic bucket, several cans, and a frying pan, all of which he played with drumsticks fashioned from coat hangers.
Recognizing his son’s unusual talent, Eusebio Oviedo began to bring his five‐year‐old son along to the hotel where he was able to sneak backstage at the Cabaret Parisién to hear the house band. Quite a house band it was, featuring the likes of Rubén González and Jorge Varona. Calixto refers to the Cabaret Parisién as “my university”.
At age seven, Calixto fell in love – with a toy drumset he had spotted in the window of a shop. It seemed destined to be an unrequited love, however, as the 55 peso price tag placed it well out of reach for his working class family. But one afternoon, strolling past the Radio Progreso building, Calixto was stunned to find a 50‐peso bill lying on the sidewalk. His incredulous father took the bill to the Hotel to determine if it was counterfeit, but like its discoverer, it was very much the real deal, and Calixto soon acquired his first set of traps. He still has the toy drumset today in the family home in Havana.
Calixto’s development was so fast and furious that at the age of eight, urged on by friends and neighbors, his mother took him to the conservatory to take an aptitude test. Incredibly, the bureaucrat who examined him concluded that he had no aptitude for percussion whatsoever. He was offered admittance to the conservatory, but he would have to play violin or piano. To the horror of his mother, Calixto refused. He was going to be a drummer and no one was going to tell him otherwise. After he told the story to his mentors at the Cabaret Parisién, González and the others sent him, armed with their letter of recommendation, to Gonzalo Roig, the director of the national concert band. Roig placed him behind a set of timpani and asked him to play cáscara and then an improvised solo. Roig was so impressed that he pulled the necessary strings to arrange for Calixto’s entrance to the conservatory – as a percussionist.
Thus Calixto’s formal education began at eight, but by this point his nightclub woodshedding had already turned him into a formidable player. He had memorized the band’s entire show and when they let him sit in (now 9 years old) he played all the way to the end of the set.
Four years later, Calixto had worked his way up to the two best percussion instructors in the country – Fausto García and Domingo Aragú. As always, he listened astutely to all of the current music, quickly identifying the ideal role model, José Luis “Changuito” Quintana, whom he first heard as a conguero with Felipe Dulzaides, and later, of course, on drumset with Los Van Van in 1970.
Calixto’s first major group was formed in 1972 with future Van Van trombonist and arranger Hugo Morejón, future NG La Banda trumpeter José Miguel “El Greco” Crego, bassist Omar Hernández, singer Orestes Roque and conguero Santiago Gainza (pictured here on the left). It was Calixto who came up with the band’s name, Acheré.
In 1977, Calixto began his mandatory stint in the army, but by this time he was in such demand that Pacho Alonso pulled sufficient governmental strings to allow Calixto to be a soldier by day and Pacho’s drummer by night.
Calixto recorded about five albums with Pacho, including El Guayabero, and after the legendary singer’s death in 1982, Calixto stayed on for another year with Pachito Alonso, who had taken over for his father. While at carnaval in Santiago de Cuba, Calixto was reunited with his old schoolmate Adalberto Álvarez who was in the process of leaving Son 14 in order to form his own band in Havana, Adalberto Álvarez y su Son. Joining Calixto in the group was his old compay Hugo Morejón.
Adalberto Álvarez y su Son was one of the leading groups of the 1980s and Calixto’s driving groove and unique sizzling hihat were a big part of their appeal.
I’ve created a special discography page for Adalberto Álvarez in the Timbapedia section of timba.com, including many photos of the original vinyl LPs and full listings of tracks, singers, composers and arrangers. Unfortunately, EGREM, Cuba’s state‐ owned record label has never seen fit to release remastered versions of the original albums, as the Fania label has done so beautifully with the classic Nuyorican music of the 1960‐1990 period. So unless you’re a vinyl collector, the best way to hear Calixto’s work with Adalberto is the double CD pictured here (EGREM CD‐0792). It has most of the bigs hits from Calixto’s tenure with the group (1983‐1990).
Calixto’s Original LP Recordings with Adalberto Álvarez y su Son 1985 Adalberto Álvarez & Omara Portuondo: Canta el son 1985 Adalberto Álvarez y su Son 1986 El regreso de María 1987 Sueño con una gitana 1988 Fin de semana 1990 Dominando la partida Calixto’s first two sons, Yulién and Yarién, were born in 1982 and 1986, respectively, and followed in their father’s child‐prodigy footsteps. On YouTube, you’ll find many amazing and hilarious clips from Cuban television featuring Calixto trading licks with an 11‐year‐old Yulién, so small that he had to stand on boxes to reach the timbales, but so good that he could play back his father’s ferocious timbal licks with ease. Calixto remembers Yulién as a 10‐month‐old toddler in his stroller, watching a music show on television and tapping rumba clave with perfect timing. Calixto’s third son Adrián, born in 2008, is showing similar aptitude and can also be seen in various priceless YouTube clips.
The Roots of NG La Banda Calixto in Japan – 1997 NG La Banda was one of the most important groups in Cuban music history, simultaneously representing a culmination of the best music of the 1980s and a series of bold innovations that helped to define the “timba” style of the 1990s and beyond. While Calixto was with Adalberto, José Luis “El Tosco” Cortés, the future leader of NG La Banda, was in Irakere, along with several other horn players, including José “El Greco” Crego from Calixto’s Acheré days, who would eventually play with NG La Banda. Founding NG singers Issac Delgado and Tony Calá were with Pachito Alonso and Ritmo Oriental, respectively.
The post‐1959 music scene in Cuba is somewhat similar to professional sports before the onset of free agency. The bandleaders and governmental agencies have an extraordinary amount of power over the musicians and with few exceptions, in order to play with one band, you have to play only with that band. This may seem odd to readers from the United States and Europe, where in order to make a living playing music, you usually have to play in at least half a dozen different bands. There’s debate as to which system is better for musicians, but for fans, there’s no contest. When the same talented players rehearse regularly – and exclusively – with one group, the group develops a unique sound, or sello, and the resulting competition among groups results in a much higher level of musicianship and creativity than would otherwise be the case.
|With John Santos in San Jose Jazz Fest 2014|
The clever El Tosco, however, through persistence and political string‐pulling, was able to record a series of experimental albums using top musicians from other bands who were able to retain their main jobs because El Tosco’s group played only in the recording studio. The membership of El Tosco’s group varied, as did its style – from experimental Latin Jazz to dance music that paved the way for NG La Banda and timba. The name of the band was also in constant flux: from Todos Estrellas to “The New Generation All Stars” to Nueva Generación. It was this last name that was shortened to “NG” when Tosco and his crew finally quit their day jobs to launch the historic NG La Banda.
Calixto’s Original LP Recordings with Nueva Generación 1986 Abriendo el ciclo 1987 A través del ciclo 1988 No te compliques The most widely available CD to feature songs from this period is the above‐pictured Toda Cuba baila con NG La Banda (MRX Records – MXD‐2086). Calixto remained with Adalberto in the late 1980s, so it was with drummer Giraldo Piloto, another key figure in Cuban music history, that NG La Banda made their breakthrough LPs, En la calle and No se puede tapar el sol, as well as several rare 1991 classics like Rap de la muerta and Yo soy un hombre.
In 1991, Calixto returned briefly to Pachito Alonso y su Kini‐Kini, but in late 1991, when Piloto left NG La Banda to become the drummer and musical director of Issac Delgado’s new group, Calixto joined NG and found himself touring with them in Perú within two weeks time. After a 3‐month stint at Cancún’s legendary Disco Azúcar nightclub, the group embarked on a tour of Europe and Japan that produced the live double album En cuerpo y alma. In November of 1992, NG La Banda completed a recording session in Japan that produced nine tracks, including several of the most important and celebrated in Cuban music history: Santa palabra, Échale limón, and El trágico. These three tracks, plus another track from the same session, Murakami mambo, will be studied in microscopic detail in Volumes 4 and 5 of the Beyond Salsa Percussion series. This album, shown at the left in one of its many incarnations, is an excellent companion to the material studied in this volume because it covers such a wide range of rhythms. Two additional tracks, Danzón río sumida and Club 4 Cha Cha Chá relate directly to Chapters 1 and 2, respectively, while yet another, Conga negro cansado, like the mozambique rhythm of Chapter 3, a modernized version of the Cuban carnaval conga rhythm.
The nine tracks recorded in Japan were released with multiple titles and multiple covers as Échale limón (shown here: Harmonia mundi 3006 038), Cabaret Panorámico and several other discs. EGREM also released an LP entitled Échale limón, featuring several of the tracks from Japan and several others recorded in Cuba, including Amor entre tres, El jinetero and Vuela paloma. The latter was written by a young singer discovered by El Tosco and destined to be one of the biggest sensations of the 90s, Manolín “El Médico de la Salsa” González. A minor release called Para Curaçao, (AVL93038CD), was made in May of 1993 while the band was on tour in the Dutch Antillean island. The most interesting track on this album is an early version of La bruja, later the title track of one of NG La Banda’s greatest albums. es esto. Later in 1993 came La que manda, (Inspector de la Salsa 9424), a lesser known, but excellent collection of original songs, including the wonderful Hice mi papel, a piece we’ll study in detail in a later volume. All ten tracks are originals and other standouts are Con qué tú cuentas camará, Búscate un congelador, and Qué 1994: NG La Banda: La bruja—Inspector de la Salsa The masterpiece of the mid‐90s period was La bruja, featuring several more songs we’ll study in later volumes: Te pongo mal, Picadillo de soya, and the title track, La bruja. Other timeless classics from this album are Un sueño terrible and La película del sábado. Calixto’s last studio album with NG La Banda was La cachimba, in early 1995, which also included the legendary Picadillo de soya.
Calixto also participated in various other El Tosco‐produced projects, including the Latin jazz albums Nuestro hombre en La Habana and Latin Fever and De allá pa’ acá, an all‐star production reviving the name Orquesta Todos Estrellas and featuring famous Puerto Rican songs performed by top Cuban musicians. October, 1995: NG La Banda: En directo desde el patio de mi casa – Caribe Productions CD 9462 In late 1995, perhaps inspired by Los Van Van’s Lo último en vivo, El Tosco set out to record an entire album of new originals in front of a live audience. The result, recorded in late 1995 from the patio of El Tosco’s house, was En directo del patio de mi casa, which included the big hit La apretadora (studied in a later volume), Papá Changó, and El baile chino. It was Calixto’s last recording with NG La Banda before moving to Sweden. Calixto’s Original Recordings with NG La Banda Simplemente lo mejor de NG La Banda (BIS Music – downloadable at latinpulsemusic.com) 1992 tracks: Amor entre 3, El jinetero, Vuela paloma 1992 En cuerpo y alma (Live in Japan and Italy) 1992‐11 Échale limón (Japan) 1993‐05 Para Curaçao 1993 La que manda 1994 La bruja 1995 La cachimba 1995‐10 En directo desde el patio de mi casa (live) This compilation CD pictured above, Simplemente lo mejor de NG La Banda, lives up to its title, featuring no less than six of the nine tracks we’ll study in depth in our later volumes: Échale limón, Santa palabra, El trágico, Murakami mambo, La bruja, and Picadillo de soya. La apretadora is only on the live album, En directo desde el patio de mi casa, Te pongo mal is only on La bruja and Hice mi papel is only on La que manda.
Calixto’s Recordings Under His Own Name 2000: Calixto Oviedo: La recompensa (EGREM) 2005: Calixto Oviedo: Calixto’s Way (EYS 016) In late 1996, Calixto left NG and moved to Sweden where he still lives today, but he’s continued to travel to Cuba to record. In 2000, under his own name, he recorded La recompensa for EGREM, a great timba album with an all‐star cast, including his two sons Yulién and Yarién and singers Michel Maza, Haila Mompié and Tirso Duarte. In 2005, he released Calixto’s Way, a high energy Latin Jazz album recorded in Europe. As of 2010, Calixto has several groups in Europe, including the timba band La Jugada and the Latin Jazz band Calixto Oviedo and the Latin Train. He also tours regularly with The Afro‐Cuban All‐Stars, a phenomenally successful group led by Juan de Marcos, the mastermind behind the Buena Vista Social Club phenomenon. Most of the recent concert photos in these books are from recent Northern California concerts of the Afro‐Cuban All‐Stars. Recently he was also invited by the drummer and percussionist Nils Fischer for the realization of "Rumberos to Monton" highly recommended.
This video was one of the tracks of this valuable production ... enjoy it !:
¡¡Viva The Latin Jazz!!