Habana Abierta


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Habana Abierta biography

In the early 90s, a new generation of composers, musicians, sculptors, authors, actors, etc. emerged with its own identity in Havana, even though some of their creations had already been well-known for some years in the islands cultural circles. The hopes, outlooks, anxieties of our generation, personified by culture, are gaining ground in Cubas cultural landscape and around the world, through the interest our culture rouses. One member of this creative generation is Habana Abierta, whose music is an integral part of Cuba's cultural heritage. To understand Habana Abierta, we have to talk about Gema y Pável, who undertook something they had been fostering for some years as a personal project: to produce a compilation of everything they and their peers had been doing in Havana clubs with hardly any resources. Initially, Luis Alberto Barbería, Pepe del Valle, Carlos Santos, Boris Larramendi, Superavit, Andy Villalón, Kelvis Ochoa and José Luis Medina, backed by the NUBENEGRA recording label, gave us a first glimpse released under the name Habana Oculta. In July 1996 most of them travelled to Spain (except for Carlos Santos, Raúl Ciro and Alejandro Frómeta: Superávit) to showcase their music at several festivals and clubs, and very soon spurred interest among audiences and the media alike, and even well-known Spanish artists and musicians. Ana Belén and Víctor Manuel, along with Ketama, are the first to show an interest and to take the initiative in a gradual and rich exchange with our Habana Abierta, which whom they made music in Spain. BMG-Ariola asked Gema y Pável to come up with a project bringing a group of highly different singer-songwriters together on the album, based on the individuality of each member yet with combined expression of the diverse unity that Cuban culture in general retains, as does its music in particular. Then Vanito Brown and Alejandro Gutiérrez joined what was to become Habana Abierta, recording a new album under this name. Playing over 80 gigs throughout Spain in 1997, 50 of them in Madrid, gave us an excellent outlook for 1998, recording a new album with our line-up down to 6, as Andy y Barbería had left us to branch out on their own. With 24 Horas, the second album with Habana Abierta, an eclectic line was followed with some tracks from previous recordings, with a more defined fusion between popular Cuban music and funk, reggae and hip-hop airs. Rock and Pop Cuban-style with proud living national roots: Van Van by Juan Fromel, Irakere by Chucho Valdés or NG la Banda by José Luis Cortés, refrains attributed to Matamoros riding on Red Hot Chili Peppers or Rolling Stones riffs. Conga-funk, timba-rock, bolero-hop, chachacha-blues, son and pop.... In January 2003, after six years in Spain, they returned to Cuba for a series of sell-out individual shows, with a magnificent performance by the Habana Abierta full line-up at La Tropical, temple of megastars such as Van Van, NG la Banda, Irakere etc. playing to with over 10,000 people. This gave rise to the Habana Abierta documentary directed by Jorge Perugorría and Arturo Soto, currently being presented at several film festivals. The best way to explain what HABANA ABIERTA is about is to see them live, they are brazen and the excitement is infectious. Yet their recordings are also hot to the touch.

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