Earlier this year an extraordinary week-long recording session took place in Cuba where rich cultural heritage and musical history is unparalleled in its reputation and diversity. Sessions were split between the intimate Scorpio Recording Studios in central Havana and Cuba’s iconic EGREM Studio, which was home to the legendary Buena Vista Social Club and has previously hosted artists such as Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole.
Over the course of a busy week, four phenomenal albums were recorded for SOMOS. Working alongside Latin Grammy Award-winning composer/producer, Juancho Valencia, and renowned composer Efrain Rios, these four distinct albums incorporate several authentic Cuban music styles ranging from emotionally infused bolero to up-tempo and high-energy mambo.
Exceptionally charismatic and uniquely gifted Juancho possesses a magical ability to weave deep emotion and vulnerability into his music. His Bolero Profundo album expresses romance, sadness and bitterness through beautifully heartfelt lyrics, influenced by his own experiences in life.
In contrast, the Bailemos Ballroom album shows off another, more colourful side of Juancho, focusing on the legendary ballroom styles of mambo and cha-cha-chá, giving it a broad flavour of well-loved Cuban sounds.
Cuban composer and tres guitar maestro Efrain Rio’s first album, Antologia de Cuba, pays homage to traditional Cuban music created before the country’s political and economic crisis in the 1990s. This was a time when Cuban music had an air of joyful innocence and playfulness and it was the essence of this positivity that was encapsulated in the recordings. Efrain brings this period back to life with his quirky instrumentation and melodies which complement the tracks’ often comical and mischievous storytelling.
His second album, Percussion Cubana, is a comprehensive study of the Cuban rhythms that underpins much Cuban music. It is a vibrant display of Cuban percussion with an unapologetic sense of joy that is completely infectious.
Felipe Arévalo (Music Producer, SOMOS) on the experience: ‘It was a privilege working with some of the finest Cuban Musicians – a truly awe-inspiring experience that left the team deeply humbled (even speechless) by the talent, enthusiasm and unrelenting passion of everyone involved.
Whilst we were in the studio there were so many emotions; tears, joy, friendship and an overwhelming sense of nostalgic pride, which we have tried to capture in the music. It is like nothing we have ever created before, and we’re delighted to bring all these experiences to life and share them worldwide.’
Check out the behind-the-scenes video below to transport you to Cuba.