Tuesday, May 23, 2017

My per-reviewed article "Cubanidad in Between: The Transnational Cuban Alternative Music Scene" is published at the Latin American Music Review Journal.

Happy to share a Link to the new issue of Latin American Music Review journal (Spring-Summer 2017), where I publish a per-reviewed article, entitled: "Cubanidad in between: The Transnational Cuban Alternative Music Scene."

For the PDF full text click here 

The article is part of one chapter of my PhD. dissertation, where I provide my analysis about the network of music collaborations, aesthetic connections and discourses among Cuban singer-songwriters and academically trained musicians who migrated in the last 25 years like Gema Corredera Pavel Urkiza Julio Fowler Habana Abierta  Yosvany Terry Dafnis Prieto Yusa Mar Descemer Bueno Eidel Morales (Mr. Haka), Cubiche, among many others, through cities like Madrid, New York and Miami. Thanks to Manny A. Diaz for the cover art.

Here's the article abstract in English and Spanish

This article examines the music production and discourse of the transnational Cuban alternative music scene (TCAMS), a prolific diasporic network of Cuban singers, songwriters, and academically trained musicians. Through ethnographic research I map this transnational music scene throughout local, nonmainstream, and online music circuits. The TCAMS employs fusion as its main musical language, showcasing a strong musical and educational background. These musicians' transnational identities and discourses are in constant negotiation and assume apparent depoliticized and dystopian discourses in relation to dominant narratives of Cubanness. TCAMS is an "in between" transnational space of music creation, a shifting aesthetic and generational scene in the alternative context of Cuban music. It deconstructs the territoriality of Cuban music production and projects a postnational Cuban soundscape at the turn of the century.

Este artículo examina prácticas de producción musical y de discurso de la escena transnacional cubana de música alternativa (ETCMA), una prolífera red de colaboración entre cantantes, cantautores y músicos entrenados académicamente en Cuba. A través de un trabajo etnográfico, el texto mapea a esta escena en circuitos de música locales, no comerciales y redes sociales. La fusión es el principal lenguaje musical de ETCMA, exhibe un sólido background educacional y musical. Las identidades y discursos transnacionales de estos músicos están en constante negociación y asumen discursos aparentemente despolitizados y distópicos con relación a narrativas dominantes de cubanidad. ETCMA es un espacio "in between" de creación musical transnacional, una escena de cambios estéticos y generacionales en el contexto de la música cubana alternativa. Esta escena de música deconstruye la territorialidad de la producción musical cubana y proyecta un paisaje sonoro cubano posnacional de cambio de siglo.


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Artists invited to my class on Cuban music at the University of Miami, Spring 2017: Yusa, Pavel Urquiza, Vanito Brown and Ariel Fernandez-DJ Asho

During the Spring 2017 semester, I designed and taught the class SPA 322 "Cuban music: Readings and critical auditions on imaginaries about the nation and the diaspora," for undergraduate students at the University of Miami. In this class, students were able to improve their writing, listening and oral skills in Spanish, while learning, developing critical skills and producing knowledge on cultural aspects about Latin-American topics, in this case on Cuban music and negotiations of identity.

The class provided a historical overview throughout some of the most important Cuban music genres since the 19th century, from Rumba to Reggeaton. It explored the influence of music in the process of negotiation of the idea of a Cuban nation, as well as on negotiations of national, diasporic and transnational identities within and outside the island, throughout historical time and geographical spaces.

An important component of the class was to provide students with firsthand interactions with Cuban musicians living in diaspora since the last 25 year, specially singer-songwriters and academically trained musicians. For that purpose, I invited Yusa, Vanito Brown, Pavel Urquiza and Ariel Fernandez-Dj Asho. They are among the protagonists of the important process of transnationalization and renaissance of Cuban music production that is taking place throughout the world since the 1990s crisis.

-Pavel Urquiza

Pavel Urquiza was the first invitee, under the section on Cuban Fusion. He is one of the protagonist of what I call Cuban Fusion, which refers to the music produced between Cuban singer-songwriters and jazz musicians since the 1990s throughout the world. 

Cuban fusion is for the most part underground or alternative (non-mainstream), relies heavily in ad-hoc collaborations and improvisation, and transcends generic borders. It's highly informed by timba, boleros, guaracha, La Nueva Trova and Afrocuban rhythms, in an open-ended dialogue with an array of world music genres like funk, jazz, pop, hip-hop, cumbia, reggae, Argentinian rock, Brazilian songs and others. Cuban fusion is also informed by the generational and individual subjectivities, education, references, frustrations, illusions and aesthetics of these musicians, who massively became migrants and are dispersed throughout the world. 

In his presentation, Pavel expanded on one of his latest and more important projects so far, his double album and documentary La ruta de las almas (2014). The project traces back the ancestral human connections prompted by music from Persia to Patagonia, throughout 30 cities and with the participation of 50 musicians. He also talked about another project on the making, which focuses on the tambor (drum) culture across the world.

-Ariel Fernandez DJ Asho


Ariel was closely involved with the Cuban hip-hop movement in the island since the 1990s. Before the class, the students read an article wrote by Ariel for La Jiribilla, "Poesía urbana o la nueva trova de los noventa" (2001), where he provides his views on the origins and challenges faced by the Cuban rap and hip-hop movement.

Under the class' section about this type of music, Ariel provided a comprehensive presentation about the historical presence of African traditions since the origins of rumba, the emergence of Afrocuban jazz in New York during the 1940s, the filing song movement in the island and the consolidation of Cuban rap and hip-hop as a movement in the late 1990s. He also highlighted the historical influence of American music in Cuba, such as in most of the music genres mentioned before, and specially salient in the appropriation of jazz band sonorities like in the case of legendary Benny More. 

He situated Cuban rap and hip-hop as one of the most important examples of American music' appropriations by Cubans in the island. Beyond that, Ariel also considered the developments of this music genre in the island the result of a local need from the marginal and black populations to have a voice, as the most affected social sectors by the nineties' crisis.

-Vanito Brown

Vanito is one of the founding members of Habana Abierta, a music collective often regarded as the “generational voice” of the 1990s. He indicated he was part of a group of singers, songwriters and bohemians who spontaneously interacted in Havana at the time, in gatherings like La Peña de 13 y 8, and undergrounds bands such as Lucha Almada, Superávit, Cuatro Gatos, Cachivache, Debajo and En Serie. Those gatherings and bands mapped out an alternative music scene in the midst of the most severe post-revolutionary crisis. As a result, most of these musicians eventually migrated and spread out throughout the world.

From diverse and mostly self-trained music backgrounds, these musicians updated the legacy of La Nueva and La Novísima Trova with multiple references common to their generational music universe referred before. Vanito also talked about the origins of Habana Abierta, his career in Spain, and he shared details about H.A. two successful come back presentations in Havana, despite the lack of support from the cultural establishment. 

Vanito provided an overview on his career as a soloist. He showed the class his two latest videos: Chévere (2014), recorded in Havana and featuring a song from his latest album Norte, Sur, Este y Aquel; and the making of Bolero Inaudito (2016), a song he composed twenty years ago in Madrid together with singer songwriter Kelvis Ochoa, and that they recently recorded in Miami.


Yusa is one of the pioneers Afrocuban women from what I call the Transnational Cuban Alternative Music Scene (TCAMS), a network of music production and collaborations across the world established by Cuban diasporic singer-songwriters and academically trained musicians since the 1990s crisis. 

She was a founding member of the music collective Interactivo, together with Robertico Carcasses and others. Yusa has an important discography as a singer-songwriter as well as an skillful performer of guitar, bass and tres. Yusa has been very successful in the World Music and jazz scenes in Europe, Japan and Latin America. She is also a pioneer in the introduction of feminist and LGTB topics in the Cuban song. After a long residency in Argentina, Yusa is currently residing in Miami.

 For the class, Yusa reviewed some of the most important moments of her career,  since her initial incursions performing traditional Cuban music in Europe, until her prolific career as a singer-songwriter and bass player across the world. Yusa recognized that, although she has been greatly surprised by the impact of fortunate coincidences in her life, she believes that her career has been closely related with careful choices and decisions she has made along the road. She performed two songs for the class accompanied by her acoustic guitar: "Waking Heads," from her album Haiku (2008),  and "Tomando el Centro," from Yusa (2002).

Monday, May 1, 2017

International Jazz Day All-Star Global Concert From Havana Cuba

Dialogando con Proust

A propósito del cuestionario de Proust
La cualidad que más aprecio en una mujer

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Eva Silot Bravo

A primera vista esta pareciera una pregunta sencilla, pero, a su vez, me sugiere otras, que se presentan como paradojas cíclicas e infinitas

¿Qué es ser mujer?...

¿Por casualidad se referirá Proust a ese ser humano al que casi siempre asociamos con una naturaleza frágil? 

¿El supuesto sexo “débil”? 

¿La imagen última y acabada del recato y el pudor? 

¿Acaso el epítome de la candidez y la benevolencia? 

O, ¿La suprema belleza?

¿Será quizás el género “escogido” para sustentar una vocación eterna de acomodo y adaptación? 

¿La que puede casi siempre dejar de ser, para ayudar a otros a erigirse? 

¿La que no le cuesta renunciar o posponer el encuentro consigo misma para siempre entregarse, o ponerse a disposición de otros, casi siempre tan ávidos de recibir apoyo extra y colchón? 

Como el que les proporcionan sus madres santas, que dios las tenga en la gloria.

¿Será a la que siempre se le puede pedir un esfuerzo extra? 

¿La que antepone una disculpa aunque no venga al caso? 

¿La incondicional?

¿O la que siempre lo complica todo innecesariamente? 

¿La que no debe pensar tanto, porque con ello amenaza su propia existencia y la de sus semejantes? 

¿O la que no para de hablar, cuando casi nadie está dispuesto a escuchar?

Y, si no fuera el caso...

¿Por qué tantos poetas se han enfrascado en discernir y sugerir coordinadas simbólicas sobre lo femenino en la memoria, tanto ilustrada como vernácula, a través del tiempo y el espacio?

¿Le importará a Proust mis preguntas? ¿Y, si no, a quién?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Yusa como invitada a mi clase sobre música cubana en la Universidad de Miami, brindará una charla el próximo miércoles 19 de abril

Como parte de la clase SPA 322  “Música cubana: Lecturas y audiciones críticas sobre imaginarios de la nación y la diáspora” que estoy enseñando en la Universidad de Miami, hemos tenido invitados como el cantautor Pavel Urquiza, el productor DJ Asho Ariel Fernandez y el cantautor Vanito Brown. De esto se hará un próximo post.

El próximo miércoles 19 de abril, tendremos de invitada a la importante cantautora, bajista y compositora cubana Yusa, que está una temporada en Miami proveniente de Argentina.

Ella es una de las mujeres afrocubanas pioneras de la escena de música alternativa cubana tanto en la isla como transnacionalmente. Ha tenido mucho éxito y reconocimiento en el mundo del World Music en Europa, y también ha sido una pionera en la introducción de temas feministas y LGTB en la canción cubana.

Ella va a brindar una charla en español en nuestra clase y para otros estudiantes de la universidad sobre su vida y trayectoria profesional, bajo el tema de Fusión, que estamos considerando en las últimas semanas. 

Electronic Press Kit de la artista cubana Yusa. Grabado en Café Vinilo Club, Buenos Aires, Junio 2010. Dirigido por Carla Lucarella. Producido por Federic...

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Presentation I made in the panel "Circuits of Knowledge" at the International Academic Forum in honor of Dr. George Yudice. University of Miami

Video of the Panel "Circuits of Knowledge," where I made the presentation "Challenges to Scholars as Public Intellectuals: How to promote relevant and meaningful venues of cultural and civic dialogues in polarizing times." 
I shared the panel with Hugo Achugar (Universidad de la Republica de Uruguay, National Director of Culture) and Tracy D. Guzman (University of Miami). 
"Culture As Resource."An academic forum in honor of Dr. George Yudice. April 7-8, 2017. 
University of Miami

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Presenting on the XI Conference on Cuban and Cuban American Studies at FIU, February 2017

Last February, I had the pleasure of making a presentation at a Panel on Cuban Popular Music on the Island and in the Diaspora, at the Eleventh Conference on Cuban and Cuban American Studies. The conference was organized by the Cuban Research Institute from Florida International University.

The panel was chaired by Nora Gamez (El Nuevo Herald) and the panelists were: Beatriz Calvo Peña (Barry University, Miami), Liliana Casaneva Cue (Instituto Cubano de la Música, Havana) and Hazell Santiso Aguila (Universidad Autónoma de Aguas Calientes, México). We also had the great company of musicologist and author Dr. Cristobal Diaz Ayala.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Cantando como invitada al concierto del cantautor Pavel Urquiza en El Tucan, Miami,


Mi debut cantando, como invitada del cantautor Pavel Urquiza (La ruta de las almas) en un concierto con amigos como las cantantes Yusa y Danay Fuentes; y una excelente banda de músicos formada por Carlos Puig en la trompeta, Rey Ruiz Guerra en el bajo, Norlan Diaz en el saxofón, Michael Font en la percusión e Irving Aday en el piano y teclados. El concierto tuvo lugar en El Tucan, Brickell, Miami, el pasado 22 de noviembre del 2017.

Forthcoming presentation at academic symposium "Culture as Resource," in honor of Dr. George Yudice, University of Miami.

Thankful for the invitation to make a presentation at this forthcoming academic symposium "Culture as Resource", in honor of Dr. George Yudice, together with admired scholars like Garcia Canclini and Hugo Achugar, among others.
Department of Modern Languages and Literatures
University of Miami
April 7-8, 2017
Wesley Foundation Gallery
Additional info in this LINK

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Miami premier, Ivy League Rumba (PBS) documentary, next Thursday, October 13, at Actor's Playhouse Miracle Theater, Coral Gables.7:00 pm

Ivy League Rumba, a PBS documentary by Joe CardonaRalf Gonzalez and Richard Snyder is finally out. The film is about the past Latin Jazz and Pop Festival at Brown University. It features performances and interviews to great musicians like PALO! Pedrito Martinez Group
"helvetica" , "arial" , sans-serif;"> Roman Diaz, Descemer Bueno Leslie Cartaya Philbert Armenteros Sonlokos Steve Roitstein Raymer Olalde Ed Calle, etc. I had the pleasure to be interviewed in this film about my academic research on Cuban music and these musicians. 
There will be a free screening at Actor's Playhouse Miracle Theater, Coral Gables, this comingThursday, October 13, 7:00 pm.

The film premiered recently in Providence, RI as part of the Providence Latin American Film Festival (PLAFF) and in Miami October 13th. Ivy League Rumba is being broadcast nationally in early October by PBS stations across the country as part of Hispanic Heritage month.

link to an article about the event by newspapers Diario de las Américas, El Nuevo Herald  and Brown Daily Herald.