Team Cuba

Cuba's contemporary popular dance music is driven by a daily experience in the barrios. It's the expression of a whole generation who move timba, sing timba, are timba.

In spring '98 seven of the main timba bandleaders put up a special project to celebrate this moment and to communicate to the world. The result was the Team Cuba - Somos Lo Que Hay - presented for the first time in Varadero, Cuba on february 12th.

Juan Formell, Paulito FG, Adalberto Alvarez, Issac Delgado, David Calzado, Manolín, José Luis Cortez and 28 musicians of their bands were together on stage. This was a major event, not just a kind of Cuban Fania, these musicans have all different labels and their real motivation was to show their music to the world.


An impression of their Havana concert (translation of an article by Carlos Galilea in Diario el Pais, Madrid):

Havana goes crazy with the greatest dance orchestra reunited in years

The leaders of the seven most popular orchestras in Cuba put old quarrels aside to offer, together, a free concert to the public of Havana. Organized by the General Society of Authors and Editors (SGAE) and enthusiastically watched by Ralph Mercado, the strong man of New York salsa, more than 70,000 Cubans danced and enjoyed like crazy.

Juan Formell , Jose Luis Cortes, Paulo FG, Adalberto Alvarez, David Calzado, Manolín el Médico de la Salsa and Issac Delgado together on a platform next to the impressive Capitol building: Cuba's seven most popular dance orchestras nowadays.

Around seven p.m. the sun declined and the heat became sticky. The esplanade in front of the Capitol was still empty. Two hours later about 50,000 people were waiting patiently for the beginning of the great celebration with their idols. Many of them danced on the music of amplifiers. They had arrived from the districts of Belén and Jesús Maria, Cerro and Colón, from Coco Solo and Palo Cagao. Prepared "to spend it well", the night. Skin color: dark and darker.

"A dream", said the master of ceremonies, well dressed in loud yellow colours, "to reunite on one scene together with the stars of danceable music". They started without network. The day before, authorities had denied permission for a sound check, alleging, probably with reason, that it would turn into a second concert.

"We are what there is, what Havana dances to, the quickest suppression", they repeated. And they went on: "Here they are, those who put it on strong, those who bat 400". Those were not baseball figures but those of music. Nothing equal had been seen before.

"And as little by little the Spanish and the African began to mix, the Creole was born, the Cuban was born, and this timba which is meant for enjoying", Mayito Rivera, Pedro Calvo, Aramís Galindo sang... adding their voices to those of the seven leaders.

Gone were clamorous fights: that "yes, I'm the king and yes, you're lost" (Manolín), that "if you say you're the king, show me the crown" (Los Van Van), that "if you follow on the ball, I have the bat and I'll hurl it to the street" (Paulo FG).
Although the idea of the project, peculiarly, occurred to a Barcelonian promoter of latin music some years ago, the success of the operation can be attributed to the talent of Formell, the musicality of Cortes and, mainly, to the left hand of Delgado. In the end, reviewing the names of the seven orchestras, they sang in choir: "I like all". "We are what there is".

Tremendous pole, gentlemen. The best, in spite of some absences, of Cuban dance music. Team Cuba or Cuban timba: a rythmical base close to funk with a really aggressive and orquestal mortar. A commitment between traditional son and salsa which is played and danced in a different way.

Links on Team Cuba:

Report of the Hamburg concert at Sals@lemania & at Salsaholic with pictures, 31 may '98
Eurosalsa - Dream Team de la Timba Cubana, Konzertbericht, German magazine
Report of the Paris concert at Hot Salsa with special photo expo, 29/30 may '98 (French)
Report of Madrid concert, 28 may '98 (Spanish)
Announcement of the concerts in Spain (Spanish)
Report of Habana concert
Announcement of the Habana concert, 15 may '98 (Spanish)

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Last modified on 10/12/98