News & Reviews

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Felix Baloy Tumi in Cuba
Juan de Marcos Gonzalez Recent releases
Candido Fabre Promoters
Tumi in Cannes 2000 Tumi Music Celebrations

 

Tumi celebrate their 100th recording after two decades dedicated to bringing Latin American music, arts and culture to Europe.

In the late 70s during a long visit to Latin America, I was inspired to create a link between Latin America and Europe and so established Tumi Crafts, an organisation specialising in the commercialisation of handmade objects from Latin America. It�s aim was to work directly with people in a way that was mutually beneficial. Most lived in isolated villages and at times were suffering from wars, revolutions and the brutal dictators of the 70s and 80s. By the mid 80s Tumi had grown so that over 3,000 individuals and families were involved in one way or another. Soon I realised that their objects were not only beautiful but had another important asset, they were symbolic of the cultural link which was badly needed between these two continents. I spent much of my time absorbed in these cultures to such an extent that I was spending a large part of my life researching, writing and making videos, amongst those I considered had become my people. It was during this time I realised that music also played an important part in bringing cultures together.

In Autumn 1983 during one of my regular visits to South America, I was touched and inspired by a Bolivian band called Rumillajta, so much so that I not only went on to record their first CD, but also co-ordinated an extensive tour of Europe and that was how Tumi Music was born. This summer, some 17 years later Tumi music will celebrate its 100th recording in Latin America. It is a coincidence that this record will be a CD by the Cuban legendary figure Juan de Marcos Gonz�lez with his band the Afro Cuban All Stars presenting Felix Baloy. Just like working with craftsmen, the same concept applies. Each musician has contributed and created a new chapter in my life. At times I am aware that I have been criticised by some that either I have produced too many records or that some of the records were not by well-known artists. However, the commercial concept on its own has never played a determining factor in whom I work with to record. Some of these recordings have come from societies and cultures in danger of annihilation, whilst others have been with young people, giving them inspiration and a small breath of fresh air so they can continue to develop their talents.

My Cuban link started almost a decade ago when I was in the Caribbean and Colombia looking for new sources of inspiration. Today, ten years later, I have produced over 30 recordings, learnt about the Cuban way of life, shared their food, rum and cigars, and during this process I have contributed widely towards what we know today as Cuban music around the world. Ironically enough, when I started in Cuba I was one of the few to bring music out of the country. Cuban music was better known among the communist countries, but rarely heard outside that circuit. There are others like me who during that period not only loved the island and its music, but tried hard to bring Cuban music to the West, but without reaching the commercial success of Buena Vista. The irony is that in order for the West to pay any real attention and consume the product, you needed someone like Ry Cooder to give it a stamp of approval first. There is nothing on that production that was played any differently throughout the last century. All those people like Compay Segundo or Omara have been playing the very same tunes over and over again during the last 50 or 60 years. Hence it irritates me to call it a "discovery". During the mid �90s each time I travelled to Cuba I would escape from the early evening heat of the Havana air taking refuge in a little bar � Oloku. There in that little bar which hardly sat more than 10 people, Compay Segundo would stand with his group and play. I don�t remember there ever being more than 2 or 3 people each night. I would share a can of beer or a glass of rum with Compay and his fellow musicians, and at times I would appear on his doorstep in Central Havana and share a modest plate of rice and beans with him and his family. The same applied to Omara. I remember an afternoon during 1995 after seeing her sing in her regular caf� cantante. I knocked at her door and asked her if she could record several songs for us as part of a production with Orquesta Am�rica, which I later called Cuban All Stars. Suddenly all these people have become part of the new Buena Vista discovery. Sadly enough even I had to use the term Buena Vista in a recent production. There are over 50,000 musicians all as good as, and some as old as the Buena Vista participants, but these people hardly ever have the opportunity to share their talents with the outside world. I would feel much happier if the discovery of Buena Vista had been credited to 40 years of the Cuban cultural revolution rather than to an outsider. Only a few months ago I was sitting in Juan de Marcos� house and we were talking about the Afro Cuban All Stars and Buena Vista phenomenon. In the conversation Juan de Marcos took another puff from his cigarette and then said: "You know Mo, this concept of Buena Vista is tremendous. Both you and I know damn well that in one afternoon we can find and organise 25 bands with old musicians such as those in Buena Vista and that is only in central Havana. Imagine how many Buena Vistas there are in the whole of Cuba." Ignoring for a moment the older generation of musicians, I often wonder why talented western personalities don�t give up with the old ones and concentrate a bit more on the younger generation. After all, the older generation have done it all, recorded the same tunes, most of them have travelled the world, and perhaps now is time for them to sit back and take it easy. Is it fair for us to drag some of these old retired people across the Atlantic for a 10 hour flight and put them on stage and a day later put them on another flight home? Recently I was invited to eat with some of them in a restaurant in Paris. As I looked around the table I could see their shattered expressions, waiting for their food to arrive. Eventually our starter of hot soup arrived. By this time, half of them were asleep in their seats and suddenly one of them slumped face first into the hot soup, and it was only then that he opened his eyes and realised what a price he was paying for a plate of soup. - Mo Fini (Founder / Director).


Felix Baloy: "Nacido para cantar"

In 1995, Felix Baloy met up with Tumi Music founder Mo Fini in Cuba, along with other Cuban musicians such as Omara Portuondo and Chucho Valdes. They had got together with Orquesta Am�rica as the Cuban All Stars to record �Las Leyendas de la Musica Cubana, a special box set featuring 4 CDs covering the rhythms of bolero, danzon, cha cha ch� and guaracha-son. This first meeting between Baloy and Mo Fini was the start of a relationship between the artist and Tumi Music that would culminate in Baloy�s first solo project, an album entitled �Baila Mi Son�. Produced by Juan de Marcos and featuring the Afro Cuban All Stars, �Baila Mi Son� is released this summer. For Baloy, the album comes after years dedicated to music, and highlights his unique talent and exceptional voice � a voice that was recognised as special from a very early age. F�lix Baloy Valdes Sautiz was born on 20th November 1944 in Mayari, eastern Cuba, to a very poor family. At 12 he went to live in Havana with his grandmother, whose house was close to the legendary Ali Bar, a venue made famous by Benny More�s nightly appearances.

Each night, Baloy would jump the fence to listen to the music drifting from the bar; he loved to sing, and one of his uncles who played the guitar picked up on his nephew�s musical talent. He recommended Baloy to a musical director friend who instantly recognised the potential in Baloy�s voice. Baloy was surprised. He says, "I swear that until that time I didn�t know I could sing. I thought my uncle was mad, but he convinced me that I could do it and that I should take it seriously.� Towards the end of the fifties he joined the group Mi Amparo, and started to go to parties to see Cuban musicians, but couldn�t find work as a professional singer. Distanced from the musical world, he resorted to working on the railways laying tracks and spent time as a milkman and a shoe repairman. In December 1974, a friend tried once again to find him work as a singer, and tentative offers began to come his way from distinguished groups playing popular Cuban dance music. At the end of the 70s he found work with Elio Reve, and a year later with the group Tropicuba and Ra�l Planas. Baloy�s luck was changing. He counts amongst his greatest triumphs the chance to sing with Son 14 of Santiago de Cuba, under the direction of Adalberto Alvarez. His popularity in Cuba reached a level he could never have expected and he decided to return to the capital to consolidate his success. Back in Havana he was inundated with offers of work and joined up with his friend Elio Reve�s orchestra as lead singer, his voice becoming the stamp of recognition for the band. Elio Reve y su Charang�n toured Cuba and the world, gaining an unprecendented success within Cuban contemporary music. As the 80s approached, local groups became more popular and the quality of their music was of an increasingly higher standard. Many groups from the interior of the country headed for Havana, joined by directors and arrangers who moved there permanently. One of those was Adalberto Alvarez, who had already envisioned a great future with Baloy since their time together in Son 14. In 1983 he formed Adalberto Alvarez y su Son with Baloy as vocalist. The group enjoyed a prolonged period of success, recording 10 CDs up to 1992, with frequent radio play and television appearances. All the songs had a common denominator; the voice of Baloy. In 1993 Baloy began to perform at the Ali Bar; many credit him with lifting the Ali Bar out of anonymity and restoring it to its former glory of the days of Benny Mor�. In 1996, Baloy received a visit from Juan de Marcos Gonzalez who proposed that Baloy join other Cuban vocalists to record an album. Baloy accepted and a new platform was created for his voice: The Afro Cuban All Stars.

Click here to hear some samples from the new album and find out some more info on Felix Baloy.

Juan de Marcos Gonzalez: "El productor musical cubano mas arriesgado del milenio"

This summer, Tumi Music releases a new production by Grammy nominee Juan de Marcos Gonzalez entitled �Baila Mi Son�, featuring Felix Baloy in his first solo project with the Afro Cuban All Stars. Juan de Marcos� success over the last few years has surpassed all his expectations, even after a lifetime devoted to music. He was born in 1954 in Havana, at a time when Cuban music was enjoying a reputation for its excellence and creativity. His father was a professional singer, and he remembers his home being full of musicians playing rumba at their many parties. "I remember we had parties at home every year, and played rumba for our African saints � Yemaya, La Virgen de Regla, Reina de Aguas, Ochun, La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, Shang� and Santa Barbara. Our African saints accept any kind of musical offering if it comes from the hands of Cuban rumba players. We had musicians like Pineiro, T�o Ton, Mario Carballo, Panchito el Nato playing at our parties, yes really, all of them played at one time or another at our house."

Despite being surrounded by traditional popular Cuban music, Juan de Marcos belonged to a new generation influenced by a new wave of music that at the time was banned in Cuba: Rock & Roll. His attention was diverted not only to the new rhythms but to the whole image and lifestyle associated with Rock & Roll, and he was soon expelled for �insubordination� from the musical conservatory, Amadeo Roldan, where he had enrolled in 1964 to study classical guitar. At 13 Juan de Marcos already spoke English, his unique motivation being the ability to sing those songs his English speaking idols had etched on his memory forever. Music, however, was just a hobby; he wasn�t interested in becoming a professional musician like his father. His love affair with Rock & Roll continued through his school years but as his studies came to an end, he found himself drawn back to his musical roots. He began to listen to forgotten records and revive those memories of the times when rumba reigned in his home. Juan de Marcos graduated from university as an agricultural engineer but his passion was still music. He would get out of his job constructing dams across Cuba whenever he could to play music and hang out with his friends. In 1977, a group of friends got together at his house and Sierra Maestra was born. The band started off with the initial aim of reproducing and repeating note for note the repertoire of the legendary group �Septeto Nacional Ignacio Pinero�. "It was an exact copy", says Juan de Marcos, "and we felt so proud because we weren�t professionals." They soon became one of the most popular groups in Cuba and achieved some of the highest album sales in their country during the eighties and early nineties. In 1997, Juan de Marcos left Sierra Maestra with the idea of starting a new project that would bring together many of the musicians from his past, most of whom were now retired. The Afro Cuban All Stars were born, reuniting some of the most important musicians from past decades, many of whom had been forgotten in their old age. It was a project that would offer the world outside the island the purest of Cuban rhythms. And the rest is history. The uniting of the Afro Cuban all Stars marked a new chapter in Cuban musical history and inspired the Buena Vista phenomenon, featuring many of the the same artists. After the huge success of their first album released on World Circuit, Juan de Marcos decided to start his own label and created Ahora in 1999. His second album with the Afro Cuban All Stars, �Distinto, Diferente�, followed the success of the first, and now his third recording, �Baila Mi Son�, is released in the summer of 2000 on Tumi Music.

Click here to hear some samples from the new album and find out some more info on Juan de Marcos.

Candido Fabre: "El improvisador mas grande de Cuba desde Benny More"

Cuban popular traditional music originated and developed in the Eastern region of the country, El Oriente. It is in this region that one of Cuba�s most important soneros and musical arrangers of all time, C�ndido Fabr�, was born on the 20th September 1959. The youngest of eleven children, life was hard for C�ndido�s family, who had lost their father and relied on their mother cutting sugar cane to survive. C�ndido was obsessed by music from a young age and would sit glued to the radio, repeating the songs that he heard over and over. Those who knew him said his voice had always been hoarse but that it had an incomparable depth and emotion. C�ndido says that from the moment he started singing, he vowed he would never stop. His first chance to sing in public came when friends persuaded him to get on stage with a band playing in his village. Word went around about his performance, and suddenly he found he was taken seriously as a singer, receiving his first professional salary at 13. As an adolescent he also began to write songs and in 1978 started singing with El Combo Samurai, trying out his compositions in various Cuban genres such as bolero, son and guaracha.

His talent got him noticed and he was soon asked to join one of the most respected Cuban groups: La Orquesta Original de Manzanillo. His innovative vocals gave the band what they were looking for � a change of melody and rhythm which would revitalise both the group and the popular dance music scene. From 1983 to 1993, La Orquesta Original de Manzanillo recorded 10 CDs, nearly all written and interpreted by C�ndido. The group won many accolades and recognition both nationally and internationally and Candido gained the reputation as an unrivalled improviser on stage. His international travels with the band brought him into contact with other illustrious figures of the salsa world, many of whom have covered Candido�s compositions such as Oscar de Leon, Celia Cruz, Willy Chirino, los Van Van, Los Jovenes Clasicos and Isaac Delgado. Having achieved such a phenomenal success with the Orquesta Original and gained the status of one of Cuba�s most popular soneros, Candido decided to embark on a solo project and in 1993 formed Candido Fabre y su Banda. It was at this time that Candido met up with Mo Fini of Tumi Music, who immediately signed him to the label to record his first solo album �Son de Cuba�. Following a series of sellout European tours, a second album �Poquito Poco� was released, and this year Tumi Music are proud to announce Candido�s third album, �La Habana Quiere Guarachar Contigo�. This new album will coincide with a summer European tour, the dates of which can be found in our touring section.

Click here to listen to selected tracks from Candido Fabres latest album.

Tumi at Midem in Cannes 2000: Tumi artists bring Midem alive

Tumi Music once again participated in the world's biggest music trade fair at Cannes, France, in January 2000. The Midem trade fair is attended by the most influential people in the music industry and this year's show was no exception, with the biggest ever recorded attendence. When Tumi first attended Midem we were just another small label trying to establish decent international distribution. But with our distribution network now secured in all major territories, Midem has become more of an avenue for introducing the forthcoming projects and live shows, featuring the artists that we have spent so much time and energy on. Tumi artist headlining at the official opening party: At the opening evening party, our exclusive artist Elio Reve Jr y su Charang�n, had the honour of closing the show amidst rapturous applause and celebration. The music industry and general public's interest in Cuba and Cuban music is probably at an all time high and the respect that Tumi Music and our musicians command just gets greater and greater. This show was followed by a packed press conference and then a sold out European tour.Elio Rev� Jr will be back in the summer for a follow up European tour. His latest greatly acclaimed album "Changui en la Casa de Nora" is available now through Tumi and all good record stores. Humble beginnings: Tumi Music had its first Midem showcase over two years ago featuring Papi Oviedo y sus Soneros. At the time this was hailed as the highlight of Midem by Bernard Batzen, the head of the Midem organisation. Since then, Tumi has become an integral part of Midem - providing top class Cuban entertainment. On the commercial side of things Tumi continues to grow in strength, closing deals in previously unchartered territories including Poland and South Africa. Since the last Midem, our sales have increased by approximately 500%. In fact, the year 2000 is looking like the best ever for Tumi Music and its a wonderful roster of artists. We hope you will enjoy our music as much as the participants of Midem.


Promoters:

Elio Reve y su Charangon : M�sica 90 Tel: (0039) 011 434 3333

Candido Fabre : Les Alizes Tel: 04.93.21.92.33

Jovenes Clasicos del Son : Danny Rose Tel: (0033) 144 74 7710

David Alvarez : Tumi Music (44) 1225 480470

Quimantu : Musiko Musika Tel: 0171 690 9128

Rumillajta / Kallawaya : Managing agent: Diana Scrafton Tel: 0117 951 2397

Orquesta America: Tumi Music (44) 1225 480470

Afro-Cuban All Stars: Sasa Music, Tel: 0207 359 9232


Please note that you can obtain further information on events in Cuba, tourist information etc directly from the Cuba tourist board in the UK. For other European countries, please contact their offices locally. Cuba Tourist Board London.

Tel: 020 7240 6655, Fax: 020 7836 9265, Email: cubatouristboard.london@virgin.net

 

 

 


Copyright � 2001 Tumi Music Limited, http://www.tumimusic.com