Playing for Change: Cuban musicians unite to play Guantanamera

Posted: 25-Aug-15 17:45

A group of 75 Cuban musicians have united to play the internationally famous "Guantanamera" song, Cuba' most easily recognised original and they're doing so for a purpose: to unite Cubans all over the world in a project of fellowship and brotherhood; an expression of love that says "we are from that place, and music binds us together".

Playing for Change: Cuban musicians unite to play Guantanamera
Cuba’s most popular song, so much so that it could be called its second national anthem, the famous Guantanamera, now an universal tune recognised everywhere and of which countless versions exists interpreted by a never-ending list of worldwide singers, is to be included in a new DVD by Playing for Change, an audiovisual project created “to inspire and connect the world through music” parting from the thought that music has that unique power to unite people and break down barriers to overcome distances and differences between people.

Guantanamera, a tune that evokes everything quintessentially Cuban, is like an identity icon for the island and to create this new version for the Playing for Change DVD a total of 75 Cuban musicians have united to play it and sing it in a way that reflects the huge diversity of Cuban music today.

Renowned Cuban percussionist, Luis Conte said that the project was an act of brotherhood end explained:

"It is a project of humanity and emotion, of brotherhood among Cubans, of friendship and love for Cuba. We are from that place, and music binds us together."

One of eight tracks that make up the “Playing for Change 3: Songs Around the World”, a piece of work and love produced by U.S. composer and singer Jackson Browne, for this special recording of the Guantanamera, PFC went to Tokyo, Havana, Los Angeles, Miami, Santiago de Cuba and Barcelona in order to bring all 75 Cuban musicians together. They all embarked on a trip back home and on a personal journey back to basics, back to their roots.

As Papa Orbes Ortiz, a musician from Santiago de Cuba who now resided in Barcelona, was quick to point out:

"Not since the Buena Vista Social Club have so many Cuban musicians gotten together. It is an encounter between musicians in Cuba and outside, where there is no room for politics or anything else that isn’t music and love.”

“Guantanamera’ is played here by musicians of various generations, locations, styles and genres — from Havana to Tokyo, from conga bands to a concert orchestra, by young musicians like Gastón Joya and legends of Cuban music like Manuel Galbán."

The first recording of this all-Cuban original Guantanamera version was done with Carlos Varela, a famous Cuban singer and composer and Manuel Galban, a veteran Cuban guitarist that performed with Los Zafiros and the Buena Vista Social Club.

This very first recording with Luis Conte on bongos and Varela on guitar, became the backbone of the project, a base upon which producers would build upon and add more verses with the input of more Cuban artists.

After this initial recording which took place in Havana, the team carried a travelling journey through Cuba and other cities meeting Cuban musicians and adding them to the project.

As one of the producers, Enzo Bueno explains:

"Guantanamera’ was assembled “between cigars and mojitos."

Other renowned Cuban musicians invited to participated on the project include: Ernan Lopez-Nussa, Equis Alfonso, Diana Fuentes and the group Sintesis while local bands from Santiago like Conga San Agustin and La Pasion were also instantly recruited.


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