Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cuba's Sierra Maestra plays Chicago for the first time in a decade

Posted By on 07.14.11 at 10:55 AM

Sierra Maestra
  • Sierra Maestra
The ongoing thaw in U.S.-Cuban cultural relations continues to benefit music lovers, and the latest fruit of this process arrives in Chicago this evening. Sierra Maestra almost single-handedly launched the son revival in Cuba back in 1976—decades before the creation of the Buena Vista Social Club—and they've remained steadfast advocates of the island's most identifiable and durable sound, the taproot of all that we call salsa. The group plays tonight at 6:30 at the Pritzker Pavilion as part of the Music Without Borders series and again on Friday evening at Mayne Stage—its first local performances in ten years.

Sierra Maestra has always sprinkled new material into a repertoire founded on classic songs, but on last year's Sonando Ya (World Village) the band drew upon younger composers exclusively—half a passing of the torch, half an attempt to revitalize its own approach. As usual, the new repertoire isn't purely son—there are related styles like the countrified guaracha and the son antecedent changüí—but the songs all sound of a piece, with acoustic guitar and tres criss-crossing over clave-driven polyrhythms while the clarion trumpet lines of Yelfris Valdés maintain a beautifully lyrical running commentary. Below you can hear one of the best songs from Sonando Ya.

Sierra Maestra, "Perdona Mi Traición":

Today's playlist:

Allison Moorer, Crows (Rykodisc)
Roberta Sá, Braseiro (MP,B/Universal, Brazil)
Henry Threadgill Zooid, This Brings Us To, Volume II (Pi)
Jon Irabagon, Foxy (Hot Cup)
Trembling Bells, Abandoned Love (Honest Jon's)

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