Expreso Ritmico

Cuban album design of the ‘60s, ‘70s, ’80s and ‘90s.

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  • Paquito D'Rivera, Instrumental

    Francisco de Jesús Rivera Figueras or Paquito D’Rivera’s first album titled “Instrumental,” on Areito, was released in 1967 simultaneously with the first Orquesta Cubana De Música Moderna album, a group he helped found. Essentially, it’s an instrumental breezy (at times) latin jazz album with a few killer cuts that stick out among other late ’60s Cuban jazz albums.

    “La Patica” is my favorite track from the album. It dances along nicely in the same vein as Emiliano Salvador’s first few solo albums and fun to hear Cuban jazz featuring organ and flute. “Para tí llevo más” is another favorite, I love the echo-y effect used on Paquito’s sax throughout.

    “Instrumental” is his only solo album released on a Cuban label before going full time with Orquesta Cubana De Música Moderna and later, Irakere, which he helped form as well. He moved to the U.S. in 1981 and released albums there.

    Album drawing and design credits are simply credited to Terry. Who is Terry?

    Paquito D’Rivera, Instrumental [Areito, LD-3583, 1967]
    Design by Terry

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  • Los Papines, s/t

    Los Papines, s/t [Areito, LDS-3468]
    Design by Faustino Pérez

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  • Angola mix

    Angola mix

    This certainly isn’t Cuban music or design-related, but I wanted to share a mix culled from various Angolan 45’s and LP’s of mine I put together for another website. As much as I want to keep Expreso Ritmico strictly Cuba-related, I can’t help myself in sharing other music and album art I’m interested in. Anyhow, this is a mix full of semba’s, merengue’s, etc. and hopefully an okay introduction to Angolan music from the ’70s and ’80s for those unaware. I love this stuff and have a lot to learn and a lot of records to search out.

    I have plenty more Cuban music to share, no worries. I hope to complete a mix sooner than later, but I may once again be on a hiatus over the next few months. But for now, enjoy this mix.

    1. Africa Show 73 – Kazukuta Bia Jofre
    2. David Zé – Kadi Ka Zeca
    3. Tonito – Kuikitukile
    4. Os Astros – Tira Dedinho
    5. Urbano De Castro – Semba Lekalo
    6. Voto Conçlaves – Nza Kumba
    7. Aguias Reais – Bazooka
    8. José M. Junior – La Minuta
    9. José Da Silva – Chacikunda
    10. David Zé – Malalanza
    11. Os Astros – Ali
    12. Fontes Pereira – N’Golo Banza Mama (Penso Na Mãe)
    13. Avozinho – Sakeça Mukongo
    14. Marques Nascimento – Lamento Do Juca
    15. Jovens Do Prenda – Merengue ’73
    16. João Manuel Alberto – Sessa Rumba (Conceição)
    17. Dionísio Rocha – Eu Quero O Mar
    18. Urbano De Castro – Rumba Muxima
    19. Vidal Paka Bambi – Merengue Tira Frio
    20. Carlos Lamartine – Kimbemba
    21. Avozinho – Mamã Mamã Divua Diame


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  • Under the direction of Eduardo Ramos

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  • Grupo FA 5 - Dancing / Te Demonstrare Que No Te Quiero

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  • GUEST MIX: Digging Habana by Matthew Hampshire

    GUEST MIX: Digging Habana by Matthew Hampshire

    It’s 2014 and time to start things off with a new Expreso Ritmico mix. Matt Hampshire contacted me back in November ’13 regarding an upcoming trip to Cuba. He came back with an excellent stack of records and had a mix to share. You’ll notice the track list contains many killer cuts including Emiliano Salvador’s fast-paced jazz-funk “Son 7/4,” a personal favorite of mine. Sonar Kollektiv reissued an alternate version back in 2009 that’s just as heavy. Matt’s all about Argelia Fragoso’s “Un Juego de Amorat,” reissued on Black Pearl Records wonderfully mastered Ritmo Caliente compilation, a super nice track. And let’s not forget Chucho Valdez’s “Invitacion” closing out the mix. That one belongs directly next to any of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters-era tracks. Enjoy Matt’s commentary and excellent selection. Thanks, Matt!

    Before my trip to Havana my knowledge of Cuban music didn’t stretch much further than Irakere and Buena Vista Social Club. I started to do some research and this is how I chanced upon Chris’s excellent blog ‘Expreso Ritmico’.

    The breadth and quality of the music documented on Cuba’s one and only record label, the state run Areito, is amazing. The fact that all these releases were recorded in the same Havana studio is pretty unique too (although the Irakere song ‘Chekere Son’ in this mix is a more recent version of the original released on Japan’s JVC label)_

    My favorite find of the trip has probably got to be the the 7“ep of Argelia Fragoso (see photos). I couldn’t find much info about this release other than that it was produced by Rembert Egues (check his song ‘La diosa de ebanomin’ at 2.10 minutes into the mix) and is featured on the Black Pearl compilation of rare and unreleased Cuban music entitled Ritmo Caliente. Argelia Fragoso’s song ‘Un Juego de Amorat’ at 21.20 minutes in the mix hits all the right spots, and I’m sure had Cuban music been more accessible in years gone by this 45 would be a firm favorite on the deep funk scene with dj’s and collectors.

    Rembert Egues and Argelia Fragoso pictured on the back cover.

    I tried with this mix to give a good representation of the fantastic quality and variety of Cuban music in the 60’s 70’s and 80’s. Whether it’s the funky afro horns of Grupo Monumental or the epic 18 minute long future jazz of Chucho Valdez, the sublime orchestral beats of Rembert Egues or the world class musicianship and synth salsa(!) of Emiliano Salvador, i hope there is something here for everyone. Enjoy!

    Digging Habana by Matthew Hampshire

    1. Merceditas Valdes – Elegua
    2. Rembert Egues – La diosa de ebano
    3. Juan Pablo Torres – Quema
    4. Orquesta los Van Van – Dale Dos
    5. Grupo Monumental – Noche Azul
    6. FA 5 – Casa de Ladrillo
    7. Argelia Fragoso – Un Juego de Amor
    8. Raul Gomez – Decapo
    9. Emiliano Salvador – Son en 7/4
    10. Paquito Da Rivera – Cancion de Palia
    11. Irakere – Chekere Son
    12. Chuco Valdes – Invitacion

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  • Juan Marcos Blanco y Música Electroacústica

    Juan Marcos Blanco, “Caballos” [Areito, LD-4247, 1984]
    Sleeve design by Umberto Peña. Photo by Pedro Pérez

    I’ve been meaning to share an album from the Música Electroacústica genre for some time, but couldn’t decide which. Música Electroacústica is a genre that combines various music styles (avant-garde, classical, electronic) and is created through pre-recorded or synthesized sounds. Tape looping and manipulation is part of the process.

    Juan Marcos Blanco created many electroacoustic pieces in a variety of styles and forms. He participated in national and international festivals celebrating this genre in France, Sweden, Belgium, Iceland, Mexico, Finland and Hungary. He created music for film, theater, ballet, radio, television and art exhibitions. Juan Marcos Blanco’s “Caballos” is essentially a synth album in the vein of various Kraftwerk releases and other MOOG synth pioneers. It is very listenable compared to other Música Electroacústica in my opinion. It doesn’t require the full attention that a typical release in this genre might. That’s not to say other releases of this kind are unlistenable or unremarkable, they simply require more attention as they are quite a bit more avant-garde than “Caballos.” This is a special album to me. It has a very raw sound and was among the first few Cuban records I acquired.

    V/A: Música Electroacústica [Areito, LD-4222, 1984]
    Sleeve design by Umberto Peña.

    His electroacoustic piece “Ritual” was selected for the First International Rostrum of Electroacoustic Music through UNESCO in 1984, a very early Detroit industrial techno sounding track.

    Follow the link here for a deep history into the world of Latin American electroacoustic music.

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  • O.S.P.A.A.A.L.: Organization of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa and Latin America poster art

    My good and longtime friend journeyed to Cuba earlier this summer as part of a college course and person to person visit. He is primarily interested in Middle Eastern studies. However, we both share a love for Cuban music, design and art. While in Havana, he visited the OSPAAAL (Organization of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa and Latin America poster art) headquarters and purchased posters for friends back home. When it comes to Cuban poster art, it is more his tract than mine. Evidently, many posters he’d been after were no longer available at the HQ. Either way, he returned with about 20 posters. Interestingly enough, he remarked that many of the OSPAAAL Middle Eastern posters were still available. These will prove handy for his studies.

    Currently, the OSPAAAL website is under construction. It previously allowed folks to view trove upon trove of posters from many eras dealing with music, film and politics. Below you will find a few of the posters he found and useful links to political poster art and design.

    » Docs Populi: Documents for the public
    » ¡Revolucion! Cuban Poster Art
    » American University Of Beirut Jafet Library Political Poster Collection
    » The Palestine Poster Project
    » Jamaa Al-Yad | جمع اليد


  • Grupo Afro-Cuba - ¡Dile Que Vuelvo!

    Grupo Afro-Cuba – ¡Dile Que Vuelvo! [Areito, LD-3953]
    Sleeve design by José M. Villa.

    In the last year, I’ve had the opportunity to acquire a diverse amount of Cuban music. Psychedelic mod rock, fusion jazz, traditional field recordings and syrupy soul 45’s have graced my turntables and tend shine quite brightly in my record collection all in all. I wish I had more information to share regarding musician and designer background when it comes to Cuban releases. However, that information is hard to come by due to internet restrictions and lack of documentation readily available to listeners outside of Cuba. Well, here’s a special album I’d like to share from Grupo Afro-Cuba. A self-titled release that is most likely from the late 70’s to mid-80’s and doesn’t appear to be a tough one to pull (you can listen to it on YouTube for example). Cuban fusion jazz is something I’ve come to really admire over the years. Jazz has sub-genres upon sub-genres, well, here’s another to add to the bucket. “¡Dile Que Vuelvo!” is a solid release that encompasses the entire spectrum of popular Cuban music while taking major cues from fusion jazz and I highly recommend it. The album art is great and totally fits the warm tropical vibes thanks to designer José M. Villa.

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  • Los Barba y Omara Portuondo

    Los Barba – Viven Muy Felices / Por Que No Estás [Areito, EPA-6221]
    Sleeve design by Noelvis

    Omara Portuondo – Siempre Es 26 / Amanecer De Victoria [Areito, EPA-6874]
    Sleeve design uncredited

    Here are two excellent sides from two different 45’s. Los Barba’s “Por Que No Estás” follows the path of Leonor Zamora’s heavy, psych-beat sound. It’s full of fuzzy, warm guitar and what sounds like an homage to The Beatle’s “Hey Jude” towards the end. This is a great track with excellent bass lines and fuzz guitar solos. Next is a syrupy soul track titled “Siempre Es 26” by Omara Portuondo full of much expected synth and horns being that it’s produced by Juan Pablo Torres. It’s a head-nodder.

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