CineSon All Stars present and preserve Cuban music
August 26, 2016
It's always a special event when the CineSon All Stars get together, according to bandleader Andy Garcia.
"We don't tour that much because it's always very difficult to gather all of these musicians because they are very coveted in the business and are on tour with other artists," Garcia told The Park Record during a phone call from Los Angeles. "However, we like to come together because they don't get to play the music of their culture — traditional Cuban music — which is what we focus on. It's always, sort of a refuge to come back to your roots."
Andy Garcia and the CineSon All Stars will perform a St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights concert on Saturday, Aug. 27, at Deer Valley.
Garcia, who is also known as an Academy Award-, Golden Globe- and Emmy Award-nominated actor, became a Grammy- and Latin Grammy Award-winning music producer and performer because of his love of Cuban music-pioneer Cachao and this band, which features many of Cachao's musicians.
"Cachao, whose real name was Israel Lopez, is a personal hero of mine," Garcia said. "While I've been involved in music all my life, I started producing and working with Cachao in the early 1990s. I wanted to bring attention to him, because, like so many of artists like him, have been forgotten or never had the proper attention applied to them.
"Cachao revolutionized Cuban music several times over, and is known for creating the mambo with his brother, Orestes," Garcia said. "He was an extraordinary musician, composer and arranger."
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Garcia filmed a documentary, "Cachao: Como su Ritmo no Hay Dos ("With A Rhythm Like No Other")" in 1993, and followed that up with "Cachao: Uno Más" in 2008.
After releasing the 1993 film, Garcia approached producer Emile Estefan, who started a new label back then with Sony called Crescent Moon.
"He, of course, was a huge fan of Cachao, and he got us the budget and I went off and produced the record," Garcia said. "Cachao went from playing bar mitzvahs to being internationally recognized."
In addition, Garcia became a member of Cachao's orchestra and produced his last four records that won several Grammys and Latin Grammys.
Those albums and awards are as follows:
- "Cachao Master Sessions" Vol. I," 1994 Grammy Winner
- "Volume II," 1995 Grammy Nominee and 1996 DownBeat Critics Poll Album of the Year
- "Cachao – Cuba Linda," 2001 Grammy Award and 2000 Latin Grammy Award nominee
- "Cachao – Ahora Sí," 2005 Grammy and Latin Grammy for best Traditional Tropical Album
"'Ahora Sí' is a CD/DVD set that features a one-hour documentary of how we recorded the record," Garcia said.
While performing percussion and piano in the band, Garcia learned many things from Cachao.
"First of all, his records, especially the jam sessions that he did in the wee hours of the morning, are the Bible for anybody who wants to study percussion and how it integrates into Cuban music," he said. "So for me, having studied percussion as a young man and then being able to participate in his orchestra with my heroes, is like jamming with your masters."
The learning process continues today.
"I picked up the piano later in life, when I was 30 years old, and even though I'm self-taught, it's an instrument that I continue to practice and compose on," Garcia said. "It's an ever-growing process for me, like acting. Your muscles are the art form you practice. As you get older and wiser and more proficient, you get better. You can only get better by exposing yourself to great artists around you."
From the beginning, Cachao and Garcia wanted to preserve the Cuban-music tradition and pass it onto the youth.
"So, when he passed in 2008, the band turned to me and said, 'We got to keep this thing going,'" Garcia said. "Of course, that was the simultaneous statement that I said to them, because this is what motivated me to go see Cachao in the first place and tell him that I wanted to do a concert honoring him."
Today, the CineSon All Stars still features most of the musicians who were on the Garcia-produced recordings.
"Some have also passed since, but the majority of the players are those who have performed with Cachao and myself over the years in recordings or live," Garcia explained.
The bandleader is looking forward to sharing the music with Deer Valley audiences.
"Cuban music, as you know, is a type of music that is much loved and has been around since the turn of the 20th century," he said. "This music has been field tested so many time and people rejoice in it, whether they have followed it or heard of it or are being introduced to it for the first time."
The way the CineSon All Stars approach the music is improvisational.
"There is original music and there will be standards," Garcia said. "There is also a strong element of jazz, so the songs are always thematically free for the soloists to express themselves.
"Not too many people have been able to witness a traditional Cuban orchestra come alive on stage in front of them," he said. "So, that will, I think, be quite an evening. And I would say for everyone to bring their dancing shoes."
The Park City Institute's St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights Summer Concert Series will present Andy Garcia and the CineSon All Stars at Deer Valley on Saturday, Aug. 27, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $40 and can be purchased by calling 435-655-3114 or by visiting http://www.bigstarsbrightnightsconcerts.org.
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