Orquesta CUMBRE de Pinar del Río
Anybody ever fallen in love with the Latin beat knows many magnificent bands from Oriente, Matanzas and La Habana. The musical ambassadors of the most western part of Cuba, Pinar del Río, are fewer. Sometimes it seems like all the creativity, groove and over bursting energy of the West is packed to a one single band - Orquesta Cumbre.
30 years of Cumbre!
Founded in 1978 Cumbre is now an ensemble of 11 conservatory trained professionals. The leader of the band has since the beginning been trombonist Aldo Martínez and the band is 'not only doing well, but very well', says Aldo.
Orquesta Cumbre de Pinar del Río line-up:
Clodvaldo Martínez Castañeda - Trombone, Director
Fernando Pérez Jane - Tenor Sax, musical leader
Rafael Ávila Hernández - Piano, arranger
Orlirio D Jesús Valdez - Bass
Eduardo Martínez O Farrill - Trumpet
Omaní Correa Martínez - Trumpet
Pedro M Álvarez Soler - Congas
Edel Herrera Bojas - Drums
Maykel E Castillo Díaz - Vocals
Júnior Santana Martínez - Vocals, Alto Sax
Orestes Padrón Sánchez - Vocals
During the past decades Cumbre has done tours in France, Spain, Germany, Holland, Sweden, Finland and have for example in 1996 and 1997 lived and worked in Brazil for several months. One of the milestones of their career in Europe were their superb shows at the Heimatklänge festival in 1992. The German newspapers ran out of superlatives acclaiming the band's explosive "salsa" and even "samba"! (Well, the band did record a Brazilian song recently!)
Global Music Centre released Cumbre's debut cd ¡Sí!CD (GMCD 9503) in 1995. The album was recorded at Cumbre's home, Pinar del Rio, with the Global Mobile Studio. The recording engineer was - who else but - Kari "No Problem" Hakala, the man behind many of the celebrated GMC hits.
Year 1996 saw Cumbre conquering Brazil for several months and in 1997 they spent half of the year in the country. Cumbre played at one of the most important clubs of São Paulo, Bar Avenida. They also played at Santos Beach with the Brazilian stars Daniela Mercury and Filo Machado.
In February 1997 Cumbre took part in the longest non stop son concert ever. The event took place in Havana and the aim was - of course - to get mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records. The audience had certainly more fun than - say - watching someone eat a few dozen eggs. The son went on for four days and bands like Los Van Van, Aragon, NG La Banda, Adalberto Alvarez y Su Son and many others appeared on stage one after another!
Cumbre toured Europe in 2003, 2004 and again in 2005/2006! In 2009 it's time to bring them again - for the '30 Cumbre Years' anniversary tour.
For bookings and more information please contact:
Contact in CUBA:
orquestacumbre AT yahoo.es
Contact in EUROPE:Global Music Centre
Hämeentie 34 D
gmc ÄT globalmusic.fi
Cumbre promo pictures:
Like a Pinareño
Not all good things that come from Pinar are bad for your health, though. At least music doesn't give you hangovers or get tested on white mice, does it?
Many outstanding personalities of Cuban music have come from Pinar, like Enrique Jorrín, Miguelito Cuní and Jacobo Rubalcaba, to mention but a few. Although Rubalcaba was not actually born in Pinar, he made his career there and is considered a local. Most musicians from Pinar have done it the other way around, making their careers in La Habana. These days, there seems to be at least one musician from Pinar playing in every band of any significance in the capital: Los Van Van have one, Irakere have one etc.
The music of Pinar del Río has all the variety of Cuban music in general but with some local specialities. There are still a couple of families practicing Yuka, the purely African drumming and dancing tradition found only in Pinar. Of course the people of Pinar are also familiar with the percussion traditions of Rumba and Tumba Francesa, the latter a style brought to Cuba by Haitian refugees.
Punto and Música Campesina are sung and played everywhere in the countryside of Pinar. In the towns lots of professional bands play a vast variety of styles from traditional Son to political songs and from charming Danzóns flavoured with flute and violins to music played with a hilariously huge device called "Organo Pinareño". There are also younger generation dance bands doing the stuff we all know as Salsa.
Then there is Orquesta Cumbre ("Top Orchestra") who do all the styles from rootsy Yoruba beats to the most modern of Cuban grooves. Trombonist Aldo Martínez, the leader of Cumbre, turns out to be a dedicated cultural ambassador of Pinar del Río. He has all the facts and figures including the lowdown on the numerous different snails of the area and a Jurassic period species of palm still growing in Pinar. He speaks proudly about his hometown - like the province, also named Pinar del Río - especially when it comes to the older parts with its beautiful old Spanish architecture and Moorish features. With the greatest warmth, however, Aldo describes the people of Pinar, Los Pinareños.
"A typical Pinareño - like all the Cubans - likes to dance, loves company and is a lively and cheerful person altogether. How to distinguish Pinareños from all the other Cubans? I think it is their noble character! I don't mean that other Cubans don't have nobility of the same kind, but Pinareños have it especially. The reason for that might be that Pinareños are still honest good old country people (campesinos). In fact, it's just the same all over the world. For example, recently in the little town of Vantaa in Finland I met a farmer who spoke only Finnish. I spoke only Spanish, but still we 'talked' for half an hour about tractors and his farming work. I always tell my friends that this episode was a good example of how country people everywhere seem to have open and gentle mind."
Cumbre has been entertaining the noble Pinareños for quite a while. The band was founded on the 4th of February 1979. From the beginning they have played Cuban popular music - their own compositions and classics. Dance music has always been the cornerstone of their repertoire since most Cubans are crazy about dancing. Cumbre is very versatile. With their full line-up they can do everything from old Cha cha chás and Boleros to the hot new generation beat and sometimes even Afro Jazz and Latin Jazz. Within Cumbre there is also a conga quartet playing the indigenous Rumbas and Yoruba rhythms of Cuba and a rootsy Septeto that is always ready to entertain you with all the classics of Cuban Son. Even that is not all: as a bonus they have an instrumental quintet and a vocal trio.
Cumbre play all possible things on the vast field of Cuban music. That is the only limit they set for themselves: it has to be Cuban. They are open to all new influences, but they always want to fuse it with Cuban tradition, bearing in mind the roots of their music, both Cuban and African, too.
"It has to be Cuban and it has to have this thing called Sabor. What is Sabor all about? Well, that is the question that even musicologists can't answer. But it's there and if you've got it, your audience will know it! Sabor is the ability of a musician to put his soul into the music. It's the swing, the feeling that makes the audience react. We have seen it work in Germany, Holland and Finland, in places where people don't necessarily understand the lyrics or know the music. They still react wildly, because there is Sabor. Sabor knows no boundaries!"
"The best thing in playing with Cumbre is that we all know each other so perfectly well. I could play this music with other musicians, too, but it wouldn't be the same. Knowing each other so well, we could do unpredictable things on stage and make it sound like we had rehearsed it. For example our percussionists may play a break they've never done before and we could follow them like it had always been arranged that way. Those kinds of things satisfy our musical ambitions."
In addition to playing all over in Cuba (including radio and TV) and winning prizes at national competitions Cumbre has also toured abroad in Martinique, Spain, Germany, Holland and Finland. Aldo Martínez is optimistic about the band's future, optimistic in quite a realistic way:
"Cumbre has already achieved a lot. The most important thing is that we have won the people's favour in Pinar and attained the appreciation of musicians everywhere in Cuba. In music business you can get two kinds of success. One is the big popularity you get through records, TV and radio, and the other is the following you get among connoisseurs through good concerts and your professional skill. We appreciate both ways to be successful. I think we have the will and the energy to create a lasting success - even if it's a bit smaller or takes longer. We do not want to be a great sensation for a vanishing moment, something that everybody talks about today and forgets tomorrow. We want to be remembered as Cuban musicians who knew how to do their job and could remind everyone to dance, maybe even to live just a little like a Pinareño!"